Sunflowers Made for the Shade

Are you one of those people who like summer? Who enjoy the heat and humidity? Do you have your limits? Are we reaching them? Today it is supposed to be 98 degrees with a real-feel of 103.

Any one out there saying they enjoy this? It is not fun inside a greenhouse, that’s for sure.

Please tell us what you have found to be delightful about it, so we can try that type of positive thinking!

If any of us are venturing out from the air conditioned comfort of the indoors, it is likely to a shaded location. If you take a walk through the summer forest here are some natives you may encounter blooming right now.

Think sunflowers are just for wide open sunny fields and that if you or your client live in the shade you are out of luck for growing sunflowers? Think again! These native perennial sunflowers bloom mid-summer through fall, brightening shady forest spots.

Helianthus decapetalus

Helianthus decapetalus – Ten-Petaled Sunflower

Though called the ten-petaled sunflower the flower heads may have 8-15 petals atop the 5′ stems. More accurately called thin-leaved sunflower, this perennial spreads underground through rhizomes in damp open woods while the bright yellow flowers call out to pollinators.

Helianthus divaricatus

Helianthus divaricatus – Woodland Sunflower

More suited to dry soils than the ten-petaled sunflower, this rhizomatous perennial blooms from mid-summer though the fall (when the cooler temps come back – yay!) They will pick the open areas of the woods, edges and places where trees fell taking advantage of the more sunny locations, so think of that when you are planning where to plant them. They will also spread (naturalize) so give them room to roam. They tolerate drought and dry soils, are a great plant for pollinators and hosts a number of species of butterfly larvae.

Helianthus microcephalus

Helianthus microcephalus – Small Woodland Sunflower

Though the plant will get as tall as the other two above, the flowers are smaller on this woodland perennial. The 6′ tall stems will be covered with golden 1″ daisy-like flowers with 5-8 petals mid-summer through fall. This one is found in sunny areas as well as open woodlands as well as creek margins, and shady roadsides.

See, even some sunflowers prefer the cool shady spots.

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