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Sunflower Heliopsis, False Sunflower


Ox-eyes, also known as heliopsis and false sunflower, is a native American plant found from New York to Michigan and south to Georgia. Member of the daisy family, they are similar to true sunflowers (Helianthus) but Heliopsis blooms earlier in the season and is shorter.

Description of heliopsis: Heliopsis sports yellow or orange daisies, often 3 inches in diameter, on stout stems that grow between 3 and 5 feet tall. The leaves are simple and toothed. Flowers bloom from summer to frost.

How to grow heliopsis: These plants will bloom the first year from seed. Although they want full sun, ox-eyes will tolerate partial shade. They need a good, well-drained garden soil and require extra water during periods of drought. Plants are moderate self-seeders and unwanted seedlings are easily removed by hoeing. Plants grown in rich soil may need to be divided every three years or so to increase vigor. Plants grown in less fertile soil probably won't need division until they've been in the ground five years.

Propagating heliopsis: By seed or division in spring.

Uses forheliopsis: Since their cheerful flowers bloom over such a long period, ox-eyes are valuable in a bed, a border, or in a wild garden. The flowers are excellent for cutting.

Heliopsis related varieties: 'Ballerina' (syn. 'Ballet Dancer') is 3 feet tall with bright yellow semi-double flowers. 'Gold Greenheart' has double, yellow-green flowers with a green center when newly opened. 'Golden Plume' is a good double-flowered variety with yellow blooms about 21/2 inches across.

Heliopsis related species: Heliopsis helianthoides 'Summer Sun' has soft yellow flowers and grows 3 feet tall.

Scientific name for heliopsis: Heliopsis helianthoides

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