Native Plant Focus: Oxeye Sunflower
[By Ann Hall, Environmental Education Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org]
With showy yellow daisy-like flowers attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, beneficial wasps, flies and native bees, the oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) blooms all summer and into fall. Since this plant is not a true sunflower, it is known by several common names including ‘false sunflower’, ‘oxeye daisy’ and ‘smooth oxeye’. This upright clump-forming Texas native perennial is very effective when used in a garden border, native plant garden, or as an addition to a pollinator garden.
Oxeye sunflower is easy to grow and maintain
It thrives in full sun but will tolerate part shade. The low watering requirement and tolerance to all soil types make it a perfect plant for our hot Texas climate. At maturity, oxeye sunflower will reach a height of 3-6 feet and spreads into 2-4 foot clumps. Dead head (remove spent flowers) to keep this long-blooming perennial covered with blooms. No known pests or diseases affect this extremely resistant plant.
Nature is enhanced by the oxeye sunflower since it is pollinated by a specific ground-nesting bee. Birds use the seeds as a winter food source while the plant’s stems provide cover for beneficial insects. Starting the oxeye sunflower from seed is easily accomplished in the cooler fall and winter months. Although it is possible to divide the mature clumps, this strategy is less successful than growing from seed.
Seeds of oxeye sunflower are readily available from online retailers who focus on seeds of Texas native plants. Watch for local plants sales offering starts of oxeye sunflower or check local native plant retailers. Enjoy not only the summer to fall color this plant provides, but also the hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other fascinating pollinators it will attract to your garden.