Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Swamp Sunflower, Narrow-Leaved Sunflower
Helianthus angustifolius

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Helianthus (hee-lee-AN-thus) (Info)
Species: angustifolius (an-gus-tee-FOH-lee-us) (Info)

Synonym:Helianthus angustifolia

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

21 members have or want this plant for trade.

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6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

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)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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5 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral Fires_in_motion On Jul 25, 2013, Fires_in_motion from Vacherie, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

From one tiny "stick" given to me by a guy at Crosby Arboretum in Oct. 2011, it grew to a massive (8 ft. tall) behemoth clump in under 2 years. I had to tear it out because it looked so ugly and raggedy. What I mean by this is that as each stalk grows to ridiculous heights, they end up collapsing outward since the roots are so tiny (about 8" deep & wide under each 8' stalk). It's a catch-22 because if you water it more, it'll have less of a withered, raggedy look, but it will grow larger and topple outward more. (I planted it in the lowest part of my backyard here in south Louisiana. In other words, paradise for this species.) The plant is covered in tiny sharp hairs that slice your skin up like razors, so wear long sleeves and gloves when tending to it. In fact, wear cheapo cotton gloves, because they will end up being stained green by the plant's juices, and the green does not come out or clothing, nor from your hands. I want to give this species a negative, but I'll settle for a neutral. Grow it for one year then go medeival on it to keep it very small; or just remove it altogether. I'm waiting until someone develops a dwarf variety.

Update, summer 2014: Well, I had cut it down, but it grew back! And I must say I'm glad it did, because I've had a change of heart about it and have been giving away pups from it like candy. I now make sure to keep my main bush trimmed to about 4-5 feet tall and wide, and it's easy to simply yank up some pups after a rain since the roots are so shallow. So I guess I'll be giving them away in perpetuity, and I also plan to do some guerrilla gardening in some nearby swamps. (Meaning: Planting some to establish local populations and hopefully watch them spread.) I also planted one near the front entrance of Grow Dat in New Orleans' City Park, if anyone wants to go check it out.

Positive guzelle On Sep 23, 2010, guzelle from Knoxville, TN wrote:

I started with 4 plants given to me by a neighbor 4 years ago and I now have hundreds of stalks of the swamp sunflower. I love them when they're blooming and the bees and birds are stopping by, but man, are they invasive! I do absolutely nothing by the way of caring for them: no extra watering, fertalizing them, nothing except cutting them down in the winter and trying to get rid of the ones that have spread into the yard. And that doesn't work very well. They get the full morning sun, are in open yard, and have lived through drought and super rains. Until I got this month's Southern Living I had no idea even of the name. Found this site and have read all comments, etc. I'd like to know if anyone has them under the eaves of the house where they'd get practically not water. I'm a lazy gardener and like things that bloom, smell, and take minumium care. Any suggestions, anyone?

Positive Got2btuf On Oct 15, 2009, Got2btuf from Heber Springs, AR wrote:

This is a nice late season bloomer that brings color to the fall. My Mother has a single plant that is taller than the eves of her house and is in full bloom this year (2009) in the middle of October. It is facing the south sun and came up voluntarily a couple of years ago. I am posting a picture of it.
Thanks, Barbara

Positive IslandJim On Oct 16, 2004, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I know this plant only as a blaze of early autumn color along I-75 in Sarasota County, Florida. It is so spectacular. Today, I finally pulled off the road and photographed it. If anything, it's prettier up close than from the middle lane. It's quite rangy in the wild but I have seen nursery catalogs that offer a dwarf cultivar [apparently developed in New Zealand] with very dense, compact growth behavior, but also with the same relatively short 2-month blooming season.

Positive henryr10 On Sep 24, 2004, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

From the posted Zip Codes I appear to be the farthest North reporting on this plant.
I've had it for at least 6 years so it's hardy to at least -15F.
While may be a bog plant it is also very happy here w/ just regular soil, partial sun and natural watering.
I top-dress w/ manure every Spring and forget about it.

Ours gets about 6-7' tall w/ a spread of about 2 1/2'.
It starts blooming in Late Aug/early Sept and is at it's peak right about the first day of Fall.

Positive ButterflyGardnr On Jan 17, 2003, ButterflyGardnr from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I planted this against the foundation of the house. Most of the year this plant is a rosette of leaves. In mid- summer it sends up a bloom spike, which can be pruned back until about the end of August or early September to reduce its height. I have not ever trimmed mine. The canes of this plant have grown to about 10-12 feet high in my yard and are blown over fairly easily in the wind. One advantage of this is that the plant produces more blooms along the stems. The yellow blooms are quite showy when planted in mass. The blooms will draw some bees and butterflies, but the bigger draw is the birds who perch on the stems and feed on the relatively large seeds as they ripen. Yellow-throated vireos got a lot of my seeds this year (2002).

Neutral Floridian On Nov 27, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is a member of the huge plant family, the Asteraceae (formerly called Compositae). Included in this group are all of the plants that are referred to as "Daisies", and "Sunflowers", among others. This plant can be grown in moist soil and in shallow, slow moving water that is no more than a few inches deep. It will also adapt well to dry roadside areas.

It does get tall with plenty of water but is limited in height in dry areas. One way to control its height and to increase the bloom is to pinch it back as it grows. Stop pruning it when it begins to produce flower buds. In the South it begins to bloom in September or October and continues into December. When it is done blooming, cut it back fairly short. Clumps of plants grow back in the following season. Propagation is by rootstock division.

Neutral Amaryllisgal On Oct 15, 2001, Amaryllisgal from High Springs, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

SOILS: Fairly adaptable. Grows most vigorously in moist soils, but does fine in average garden soils. Drier soils will help keep the plant smaller and more contained.

HEIGHT: From 4 to 8 feet, depending on soils.


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

Auburn, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Heber Springs, Arkansas
Knights Landing, California
Sacramento, California
San Jose, California
Keystone Heights, Florida
Newberry, Florida
Ocklawaha, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Riverview, Florida
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Venice, Florida
Augusta, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Gainesville, Georgia
Hinesville, Georgia
Hull, Georgia
Lagrange, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Winterville, Georgia
Covington, Louisiana
Greenwood, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Clinton, Mississippi
Florence, Mississippi
Madison, Mississippi
Mathiston, Mississippi
Croton On Hudson, New York
Asheboro, North Carolina
Belmont, North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Selma, North Carolina
Wake Forest, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Aloha, Oregon
Columbia, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Newberry, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Knoxville, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Castroville, Texas
Chesapeake, Virginia

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