For cut flowers and late-season blooms, it’s hard to beat sunflowers.
Sunflowers attract and feed birds and bees. Helianthus is a diverse genus of both annuals and perennials. Sunflowers provide a late-summer display to a plant border or background. Thanks to cultivation, the daisy-shaped flowers come in a profuse range of colors: yellow, orange, red, purple and bronze. Variations in height also offer many possibilities for use in the garden.
For a small space or in the front of a bed, use a dwarf cultivar such as ‘Teddy Bear’ (3 feet). For larger gardens, choose a tall cultivar with vigorous stems that won’t fall over such as ‘Mammoth’ (over 15 feet). Taller varieties should be sited where they will be protected from strong winds.
Problems: Scout for downy mildew, powdery mildew and fungal leaf spots. Over-watering and close-planting are generally the origins of these diseases.