Thursday, September 04, 2008

Evil Sunflowers

Poor sunflowers. They have been demonized by the lawn chemical industry. The public has been tricked into believing sunflowers are WEEDS. Some species, I agree, can look a little leggy. But there are plentiful varieties loaded with ornamental value. Oversized blooms. Silver-foliage. Compact. One of my favorites native to the Gulf Coast is Dune Sunflower, or Helianthus debilis. The town of Seaside, Florida, has used this low-growing perennial in median plantings as a companion to Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa.) Another terrific co-planting would be Dune Sunflower and Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris.)

On the Blackland Prairie, my favorite sunflower is Maximillian Sunflower, or Helianthus maximiliani. It sprawls, so be sure to contain it (if you live in a suburban residence.) This plant is best used in projects on acreage in restoration areas.

Check with for species of Helianthus native to your region. All are not only beautiful, but excellent plants for conserving water, preserving resources, providing food for wildlife, curbing maintenance tasks, and celebrating local natural beauty. Just ask the state of Kansas (it's their state flower) or the nation of France (their fields of sunflowers attract tourists.)

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