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Helianthus

Common Name: Perennial Sunflower.

As featured in Garden News - click here for Martin's expert tips.

These are the perennial relatives of the well-loved, towering sunflowers of our childhoods. They make great  long flowering, trouble free subjects for the back of a sunny border. They will also grow well in dappled shade.

Most are great in dry soils.

Helianthus Capenoch Star with Helenium Konigstiger © 2010 SpecialPerennials.com All rights reserved

Great for bees.

Most spread slowly - some do run a lot (e.g. laetiflorus). Cut down the stems in early winter. Lift and divide every 2 or 3 years otherwise the plants can be very difficult to break up. Some are said to be less hardy than others. In very cold winters the new buds at the soil surface can be damaged, but in my experience the plants recover well but may be a little later to flower.

Some species have chocolate scented flowers. This is only really noticeable if you get your nose right into the bloom.

Some species have chocolate scented flowers. This is only really noticeable if you get your nose right into the bloom.

A member of the Asteraceae family.

Photo: Helianthus Capenoch Star with Helenium Königstiger in our garden 12 Aug 2010

Helianthus atrorubens

The species from which Miss Melish and Monarch were selected. Reddish stems and rolled petals. A runner that's great for dry, poor soil where it is strong enough to make a show. Put it in rich, moist soil and be prepared for a large clump.

Price £5.00 (9cm pot)

Helianthus Bitter Chocolate

Leaves and habit reminiscent of Helianthus salicifolius except the darker green and a bit broader. It also stands up for itself a bit better. The flowers have a whiff of milk chocolate scent. In sun and dry soil they grow to about 5ft - 6ft 6in tall in our garden.

Price £5.00 (9cm pot)

Helianthus Capenoch Star © 2010 SpecialPerennials.com  All rights reserved

Helianthus Capenoch Star

Large anemone-centred yellow flowers on 5ft, self-supporting plants. The outward facing flowers clothe the plants from July until autumn.

One of the most admired flowers at our garden open days.

Capenoch is a grand estate in Dumfries. I'm (quite forcefully) told by a Scotsman that the pronunciation is "cape-nck"

Introduced in 1938.

RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Price £5.00 (9cm pot)

Helianthus Happy Days

Flowers much like Capenoch Star but with larger centres. The main attraction is that the plants are quite short - 2ft 6in to 3ft tall - and remain compact. 

In bloom from late July - this photo taken on 20th July in our garden.

Price £6.00 (9cm pot)

 

See a bold planting combination featuring Happy Days in our garden diary for July 2012.

Helianthus Lemon Queen

 

Masses of pale yellow rayed flowers each 2-3in across. The upright plants are 4-5ft tall and self supporting. In flower from August to October.  Spreads to form a 2ft wide clump in two years. 

RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Price £5.00 (9cm pot) Available to order for spring delivery. A few larger plants available from garden open days

 

Read more about Lemon Queen in our garden diary for September 2011.

In the pale sunlight of early October Helianthus Lemon Queen glows gently crowned by a faint halo of spider's web.

Helianthus Lodden Gold © 2009 SpecialPerennials.com  All rights reserved

Helianthus Lodden Gold

Double golden yellow flowers from July onwards.  About 3 - 4ft tall depending on soil and position. Flowers well in sun or part sun. 

RHS Award of Garden Merit. 

Probably raised by Thomas Carlisle in the 1930's

Price £5.00 (9cm pot) Available to order for spring delivery. Larger plants available from our garden open days

Helianthus Miss Melish 

 

At first glance very similar to H. Monarch but with glossy, wavy leaves and more wavy-petaled flowers. Like Monarch she can run. 

RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Price £5.00 (9cm pot) available to order for spring delivery

 

Helianthis Monarch is great for a sunny, well-drained spot and bery attractive to bees

Helianthus Monarch

Large single golden yellow flowers from July onwards.  About 4-5ft tall. Flowers well in sun or part sun. If you want really large flowers you can remove some of the side-buds to concentrate energy into the central flower. Personally I don't have time!. 

RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Price £5.00 (9cm pot)

Perfect Partners: Helianthus Monarch is highlighted by the paler background of Bidens aurea.

Helianthus salicifolius

 

The "Willow Leafed Sunflower" is an architectural plant looking good in leaf before the flowers appear very late in October. Brought to prominence by Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter. About 6ft tall by the end of the season. For sun or very light shade.

Price £5.00 (9cm pot) available to order for spring delivery