Every September the Swamp Sunflowers finally begin opening their flower buds and by mid-October they are in full bloom! I use the word “finally” because it is a long journey from seedling to bloom for this flora species!

Swamp sunflowers, Helianthus angustifolius, is a native herbaceous perennial that will die back every winter, and re-sprout in the spring. Unlike many herbaceous perennial flowering plants that sprout and then quickly bloom in the spring, H. angustifolius simply grows tons of foliage, so much so that it must regularly be pruned to not get out of hand. Spring and summer will come and go, still with no signs of flowers. Then in September, suddenly buds begin to develop.

The flowers bloom into bright, vibrant yellow blooms that attract all sorts of pollinators! Don’t be surprised if you see more than five bee species at once in your clump of swamp sunflowers, each with their small hind legs caked with pollen!

Though H. angustifolius native habitats are normally moist, wet-soil areas, they have been found to thrive in well-drained landscapes. This plant will produce dark green leaves with tall succulent stems that can be pruned to easily promote branching, allowing your plants to appear shrub-like.

Since the plant stalks naturally grow tall, this perennial works great as a back border to any flowering perennial beds, or it be used centrally in the bed, depending on how often you want to prune it. The dense foliage of H. angustifolius provides a unique, welcoming habitat for wildlife.

I prune my swamp flowers about three times per season, with the last pruning taking place in mid-July. I have found that if I prune them to about knee height, they are then easily mistaken for a fall chrysanthemum when they bloom, except this plant is much easier to maintain and attracts far more pollinators to the landscape!

Take advantage of H. angustifolius ability to grow prolifically! You can easily divide their root masses in early spring or fall and transplant them with high success rates! If you have no where to put them, consider giving them to neighbors, friends, or family. It’s an easy, native plant to grow that provides habitat for wildlife and a great food source for our pollinators!

Photo of Swamp Sunflower, which goes into full bloom in October and attract many pollinators. Photo by Jeremy Rhoden, UF/IFAS Extension, Marion County
Swamp Sunflower, go into full bloom in October and attract many pollinators. Photo by Jeremy Rhoden, UF/IFAS Extension, Marion County

For more information on the Florida Swamp Sunflower, or H. angustifolius, please visit: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/swamp-sunflower.html

by jeremyrhoden
Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert

Note: All images and contents are the property of UF/IFAS.

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