Love Them and Hate Them : Swamp Sunflowers

These happy, yellow flowers can catch my eye from across the yard. I love to see their sunny petals. I believe these are Helianthus angustifolius and were given to me, as the way most unruly plants get to my garden, by another generous gardener. Or in other words, from someone who had too many of them and I can’t refuse a free plant.

But, I hate the fact that they grow  over six feet tall and eventually fall over, landing in the middle of my beds.

The Swamp Sunflowers lean against the trees and the fence.  And yet, every year I enjoy them so much that I can’t bring myself to remove all the plants that come up. I collect their seeds to hopefully pass along to someone else that likes free plants.


Good Morning

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The Swamp Sunflower begins blooming in the Fall and greets each morning with even more sunny flowers.  A perfect way to start the day.


Autumn Yellows

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Autumn seems to bring out the yellows in the Automatic Garden.  The native Swamp Sunflower keeps its blooms for weeks.  This started out as one plant, but has reseeded and multiplied over a few years to the point that some had to be removed.

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The Esperanza or Yellow Bells (tecoma stans, Texas native) took a very hard hit during last winter’s freeze.  It struggled all summer and was finally able to put out some flowers before next winter arrives.

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Mexican or Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is a favorite of the Monarch Butterfly.  This is a yellow variety.  The Monarchs fly over the Gulf Coast on their migrations to and from Mexico.  This Tropical Milkweed should be cut back in the fall as it harbors a parasite that is fatal to the Monarchs.

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And of course, a favorite of the autumn garden is the yellow Oenothera grandiflora or Evening Primrose.  It seeded itself all over the garden naturally creating succession germination and has had a plant blooming since August.   It is a native of Alabama where William Bartram first collected it.

 


Reseeding

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In the Automatic Garden the plants are allowed to reseed for the next season.  William Bartram’s Evening Primrose (Oenothera grandiflora) prolifically reseeded this year and the plants need to be thinned, transplanted and shared.  It is important not to disturb the soil once plants have dropped their seeds.

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The Swamp Sunflower has reseeded outside the wire fencing, but enough are in the bed so these can be removed.

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Rocks are a favorite germination site for seeds.  These Salvias will be returned to their bed.

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Some plants seem to be able to reseed in just the right places as these Johnny- Jump-Ups did.   Allowing plants to reseed on their own is an easy way to have a continuous supple of annuals for the garden.  A few are pictured here, but the Automatic Garden reseeds zinnias, mealy blue sage, black-eyed Susans, wishbone plants, blanket flowers, ornamental peppers, dancing lady gingers, columbine, and cleome just to name a few.


Fall Bloomers

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Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius).  This bright bloomer started right at the beginning of fall to the delight of the bees.  As its name implies, it likes a moist area.  It grows up to 6 feet tall and is a prolific reseeder.

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This Pam’s Pink Turks Cap desperately needed a trimming, but thankfully it was too hot to do the job and now it is loaded with flowers and buds.

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White Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes candida) pop up every year around this time and each year there are more of them.  They are in the amaryllis  family and can be separated and moved to new beds or shared with gardening friends.  Wild ones grow around this area and they have a scent.

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This Blue Salvia, the name has been lost, is always a reliable bloomer just when the butterflies and hummingbirds stop by on their journeys south.

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This Red Salvia is just super, blooming in the spring and fall.  It takes a break during summer.

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Coleus Flowers are not very exciting, but the bees sure do like them.  All of the Coleus were started by cuttings.  It is just about time to start some for the winter.  They do well in a sunny window and can be returned to the outdoors when the weather warms up.

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Torenias (Torenia fournieri) has many names.  Wishbone because of its stamens form a wishbone shape.  It is also called Clown Flower, Summer pansy (we grow pansies in the winter here) and Bluewing.  What ever you call it, it is a great little plant that takes partial shade and reseeds in the Automatic Garden.