Every garden needs a few easy going, bulky, self-reliant plants that give a lot of colour for a little work. If they live through winters without fail, stand tall all summer without support and show their bright blossoms later in the season so much the better.
After the tide of early-season blooms, gardeners are faced with the hot, dry days of late summer and the flower-sparse weeks of autumn. This is the time when daisies of all kinds come to the fore, with bloom times that stretch from mid July right through to October. First to bloom, usually by the middle of July, are Heliopsis, the False Sunflowers.
Heliopsis are stalwarts of the garden, they are hardy, long-lived, low maintenance and not fussy about their surroundings. The long stiff stems seldom need staking, and in tame flower beds, they practically raise themselves.
The plants grow best in a sunny location but will grow and flower in part shade. They grow best in any reasonably fertile, typical loamy garden soil. they thrive in moist, heavy soils but are tolerant of dry soils and are an excellent plant for problem areas, including clay soil.
A perennial relative of the sunflower, Heliopsis helianthoides produce an expanding ring of bright yellow, ray petals around a central disc. Up early in spring, pushing strongly to one metre tall or more, their stout stems covered with dark green, heart-shaped leaves. The flowers 5 to 7cm (2 to 3in) wide, open in succession over a span of six weeks or longer.
They are at their best when situated in the middle to the back of the border, used to accent lower growing, brightly coloured perennials. They are also suitable for wildlife and cutting gardens and are perfect for pollinating insects. The blooms make good cut flowers that last a long time in a vase. Heliopsis look as much at home planted en masse with ornamental grasses as they would in a meadow.
Heliopsis ‘Summer Nights' is a special selection made by Dale Hendricks of North Creek Nurseries, USA. Introduced in 2004 it produces a profusion of single blooms in early to mid-summer, with rich, deep golden-yellow petals and deep mahogany centres. The foliage in spring emerges from the ground burgundy red, during blooming the foliage is red-tinted and the stems are tinted dark burgundy. The plants grow to a height of around 90 to 120cm (36 to 48in) tall. They will bloom the first year from an early sowing, even with a late spring early summer sowing, the plants will flower the later in the year.
This is a great plant for the busy home gardener who expects his plants to give him more than he deserves. It will produce arm loads of flowers all summer long and never once ask for decent soil or proper care. It will even thrive where other flowers refuse to grow. Bees, wasps, hoverflies, and butterflies will feed on the nectar and enjoy it while the ‘gardener’ is away doing some real work.
Sowing: Sow late winter to late spring - February to July or in late summer to autumn - August to October
Seeds are best sown indoors in pots or trays containing a good seed compost. Just cover lightly the seed with vermiculite or sieved compost and place in a propagator or warm place maintaining an optimum temperature of 17°C (62°F) Keep the compost moist but not wet at all times. Germination should occur between 10 to 15 days.
Thin to 7.5cm (3in) pots when seedlings have developed two proper leaves and are large enough to handle. Remember to handle the seedling by the leaves only, supporting the weight of the seedling under the roots as you transplant.
Harden off by gradually acclimating to outdoor conditions for 10 to15 days before planting out into their permanent positions in spring. Plants transplant well and should be spaced at a distance of 45cm (18in) apart in full sun in fertile, reliably moist, but well drained soil.
Plant in a position with moist well drained soil. They grow best in sunny locations, although they will flower in some shade, in too much shade the plants will flop and may need staking.
To extend flowering and prevent self-sowing, deadhead the spent flowers, this also makes for a tidier-looking plant. However, there are advantages if the old flowers are left alone, they have ornamental appeal after the petals have dropped, birds enjoy the seeds in the winter; and you may enjoy the benefits of seedlings next spring.
Depending on location, Heliopsis plants may self seed and If needed elsewhere, they are easily lifted and shifted. Long lived and clump forming, the clumps can be divided every few years in spring or late summer.
Flowers Borders, Perennial planting schemes, Flower Arranging, Wildlife Gardens.
Heliopsis are native to the eastern side of North America, ranging from Ontario down into New York State, west to Minnesota and points south. In the wild, they appear in woodland clearings and scrubby meadows, on dry hillsides and beside streams.
It is a member of the large the flowering plant family Asteraceae, the daisy family.
The botanical name is an interesting one. Heliopsis stems from the Greek God Helios, the sun, and opsis, a Greek suffix, relating to sight or appearance meaning ‘looks like’. Round, bright and unflinchingly yellow, Heliopsis looks like the sun and looks towards the sun, also the flowers open only in the sun.
The species name helianthoides, is from the word for sunflower Helianthus, and oides, from the Greek suffix oeides indicating resemblance or ‘like something else’ – meaning ‘like a sunflower’. No doubt another reference to the sunflower's supposed tendency to always turn toward the sun. Heliopsis helianthoides means both like the sun and like the sunflower.
Commonly called the False Sunflower, the species are commonly called Ox-eye, Oxeye or Smooth Oxeye.
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 20 Seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Heliopsis Species helianthoides ssp. scabra Cultivar Summer Nights Common Name False Sunflower. Other Common Names The species are commonly called Ox-eye, Oxeye or Smooth Oxeye. Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Deep golden yellow petals with deep mahogany centres. Natural Flower Time July to October Foliage Dark red stems and red-tinged foliage. Height 90 to 120cm (36 to 48in) tall Position Full sun for best performance Soil Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Moist Time to Sow Sow late winter to late spring or in late summer to autumn Germination 10 to 15 days