A Native Fall Winner: Swamp Sunflower
by: Norma Kisida, Master Gardener Volunteer
As summer flowers fade, we still have many later blooming native plants to bring us color and provide food for wildlife. One that may not be as common in the home landscape – unless you are a native plant enthusiast – is the swamp or narrow leaf sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius). Swamp sunflower is a tallish open-structured perennial with narrow, rough textured leaves and numerous large 2-3-inch yellow flowers in the late summer and fall. It pairs well with other fall blooming native plants such as purple blooming blazing star (Liatris spicata).
Although it is generally found in wet areas it will also do well in residential or public gardens with well-drained soil if irrigated during drought. It is root hardy in our area and spreads by underground rhizomes; it does best in full sun and acidic soil. It generally grows to about 2 feet tall but can reach up to 6 feet in ideal conditions and may need staking. However, it can be cut back in early June to keep it lower and fuller, and dead stalks can be cut low after flowering.
A benefit of this plant is that it is a great pollinator plant, attracting bees, butterflies, and other insects when as it is available in the fall versus other plants with spring and summer blossoms. There are no common pest problems reported with this plant.
Swamp sunflower can be propagated from seeds or by plants available at native plant nurseries. The rhizomes can also be divided once they become large enough.
This article comes from the UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County Master Gardener Volunteers. Find more articles from ‘The Garden Bench’ here.