Ashy Sunflower, Downy Sunflower

Helianthus mollis

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Helianthus (hee-lee-AN-thus) (Info)
Species: mollis (MAW-liss) (Info)
Synonym:Helianthus mollis var. cordata



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Richmond, California

Saint Paul, Minnesota (2 reports)

Clarksburg, New Jersey

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Patchogue, New York

Seaford, New York

Loveland, Ohio

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Menasha, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 14, 2011, KittyWittyKat from Saint Paul, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

Mine has been growing up a foot taller every year, now 8ft? Branching. I rarely water or maintain it. It has not spread much, just vertical height increase. It does have the gray down foliage and it is not 'Hairy Sunflower' Helianthus hirsutus. My seeds were said to be all non-viable.


On Mar 5, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Offered by SSE with the following description: "This robust sunflower spreads slowly by rhizomes. An abundance of butter-yellow flowers are borne on soft, hairy stems. A favorite with many kinds of birds, so hurry to save seeds. Plants often grow 6' tall and thrive even on poor, dry soils. Hardy to zone 4."


On Dec 7, 2005, bigcityal from Menasha, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

Plant is touted as a native prairie plant. Looks more fragile than it is. It does spread with some runners - so give it room.