In the midst of your September strolls through natural Florida, you may come across this native beauty, the narrowleaf sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius. Another common name is swamp sunflower. I found this gorgeous patch in the photo close to the shore of Apalachicola Bay. It occurs throughout Florida and north throughout much of the eastern United States. Florida is fortunate to be home to over 20 native species of sunflower.
This perennial starts blooming in late summer and dazzles admirers throughout autumn. The 2 to 3 inch flowers with bright yellow petals and brown centers are attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. What a great addition to your butterfly garden!
Plants generally grow to about 2 foot tall but they can grow a bit leggy to 6 foot. If desired, keep them more compact through pruning in late spring. Clumps can be divided every few years to spread them out or to share with friends and neighbors.
Like all sunflowers, it loves full sun but can tolerate some light shade. Narrowleaf sunflower is salt and flood tolerant and will do well in most soil types, however it does best in consistently moist conditions.
Narrowleaf sunflower plants may be difficult to find in the nursery trade but they can be readily started from seed.
For more information and seed sources: