Perennial Sunflowers

Sunflower Varieties You Plant Just Once

Various types of perennial sunflowers. Beautiful sunflower varieties: Helianthus debilis, angustifolius and decapetalus. Heliomeris and Helenium.

Also, discover a perpetual sunflower you may not want to plant.

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Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers

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Like many of their annual relatives, perennial sunflower varieties display sunny yellow blossoms. Their flowers are generally a little smaller than those of most annual sunflowers and they tend to bloom later in the season (July through October).

If you live in an area with a long growing season, you could plant the perennials to take over the color show after Helianthus annuus fades. This is what some Florida gardeners do.

There are a few different types of perennial sunflowers. All are hardy from zone 4 through zone 9.


Helianthus angustifolius

Perennial sunflower, H. angustifolius growing in the butterfly garden at Leu Gardens, Orlando.

H. angustifolius growing in the butterfly garden at Leu Gardens Orlando in Central Florida.

The common name of Helianthus angustifolius is swamp sunflower. This plant likes a damp, rich soil. Fertilize it once a year in the spring.

Swamp sunflower looks splendid planted in drifts at the back of the flower border or set into the gaps between shrubs.


Grows 8-10 feet tall with 6 inch long by half inch wide lance-shaped leaves.

Helianthus decapetalus

H. decapetalus grows from 2-5 feet tall and prefers dry soil and less sun than most other types of sunflowers.


A Cautionary Tale About Helianthus debilis

Helianthus debilis growing with Sea Grapes in Ormond Beach.

A deceptively innocent-looking plant.

There is a perennial sunflower I want to warn you about. It's Beach sunflower, Helianthus debilis.

Beach sunflower is a spreader. It forms a dense ground cover.

I planted it in the hottest, driest part of my yard beneath an 'Old Blush' rose bush.

At first it was glorious. Its prolific golden blooms contrasted nicely with the pink roses.

Then it began to spread into the lawn. Then it began to climb up through the rose. Then it tried to swallow the Cracker rose planted beside 'Old Blush'.

Something had to be done.

I donned my gardening gear and went out with the intention of cutting it back.

When I got up close to it, I changed my mind. It was buzzing with bees. Not the friendly bumble bees, but the little ones that sting. I beat a hasty retreat to the safety of my living room to rethink my plan of attack.

The beach sunflower was threatening to swallow my east border whole. But no way was I messing with those bees. I've been stung by them before and it's not pleasant.

I decided to wait until frost top killed the plant. I could remove it safely then as there wouldn't be any flowers to attract the bees.

This is what I did. Victory was mine. Or so I thought.

As soon as the rains began the following June, little beach sunflowers began sprouting up all over the place!

Not just around where I had planted it but in other parts of the yard as well. That's when I found out just how aggressive this plant is. It spreads by underground runners and by seed. It's shallow rooted and easy to pull up, but any piece that remains in the ground will sprout the next year.

You can imagine the fun I had hunting down each sprout and yanking it out.

My advice: don't plant this perennial sunflower unless you're really sure you want it--lots of it.


Maximilian Sunflower

Maximillion sunflower photo.

Helianthus maximiliani can grow to 12 feet tall in rich soil. It's a terrific plant to use as a summer screen to give your yard privacy or to block an unpleasant view.

Finches love the seed of this variety.


Helianthus mollis

Helianthus mollis growing on Ormond Beach in Florida.

H. mollis is called downy sunflower because its main stem is covered in fine hairs. The 4 foot stems branch only at the top.

Downy sunflower's 3-4 inch blooms are orange-yellow.


Giant Sunflower

Helianthus giganteus prefers rich, moist soil in sun. It will not tolerate shade.

Giant sunflower tubers can be cooked and eaten. They taste similar to Jerusalem artichokes.


Helianthus tuberosus

Artichoke, Jerusalem

Buy Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers Here

The Jerusalem artichoke or Sun choke is mainly grown for its edible tubers but it is also a beautiful perennial sunflower.

It is very vigorous and can be weedy if the tubers are not harvested each fall. Dig them after the first frost for the sweetest flavor.


Buy Perennial Sunflower Plants

Helenium 'Dakota Gold' 1 Pkt. (10 seeds)

Helenium Pinwheel Collection, 3 Plants icon

Sneezeweed , is not a true sunflower but it is a family member. It can reach a height of 5 feet in moist soil. On drier land it may only stretch to 3 feet.

Discover an easy way to grow your own food and save!

Related Pages:

Growing Annual Sunflowers

No matter how large or tiny your space, there is a sunflower to fit it. From the 28 inch dwarf 'Music Box' to the 14 foot giant 'Kong' and everything in between.

How to Grow Sunflowers Every Year Without Replanting Them

How to grow sunflowers that reseed. The best common sunflower varieties to plant. Types of sunflowers that reseed the most.

Harvesting Sunflowers for Arrangements

Cutting and drying sunflowers. Harvesting sunflower seeds. Growing sunflower petals for use in salads.

The Purple Coneflower Echinacea Plant

Perennial Border Plants to Brighten Your Garden

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