Heliopsis helianthoides 'Prairie Sunset'

Perennial of the Month-- December 2006 

(heal-ee-OP-siss  heal-ee-an-THOY-dees)(pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)

Common name: Prairie Sunset false sunflower, oxeye

Family: Asteraceae, Aster/Composite

Height x width: 5-7ft x 3-4ft

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: ovate, serrate edges, dark green to 5in. long; purplish veins

Flowers: daisy-like with yellow outer ray flowers having dark red tinting at base to form a ring around the inner golden brown disc flowers; 2-3in. across; blooms over long period in late summer and early fall (Vermont), early summer to early fall in warmer climates

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-9

Soil: well-drained, tolerates dry once established; tolerates low fertility and poor soils

Light: full sun

Pests and problems: none serious, red aphids occasionally

Landscape habit, uses: massed, specimen, backs of borders, natural plantings, cut flower; combines well with asters, boltonia, tall garden phlox, goldenrods, peonies, tall ornamental grasses such as moor grass and blue switchgrass.

Other interest: similar in appearance, and closely related to, sunflower hence the common name; noteworthy for its purplish stems, purple-veined foliage, maroon ring at base of petals; drought tolerance, sturdiness with no need to stake the stiff stems under average culture; discovered by nurseryman Neil Diboll in a production field in Wisconsin in 1994.

Other culture: with excess fertility, shade, and moisture plants may need staking; cut stems back by half in late May (south) or late June (north) to reduce overall height and promote more branching; a great low maintenance, hardy perennial

Propagation: division (spring); commercially by licensed propagators as patented in 2003 (PP13,779)

Sources: online and local specialty perennial nurseries, Plant Delights,

Return to Perry's Perennial Pages