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Smooth Oxeye
by Barrett Wilson - posted 07/05/13


The daisy-like flowers of ‘Sommersonne’ are 2 to 3 inches across.

The cultivar ‘Summer Nights’ forms a heavily flowering clump.

Smooth oxeye, also called false sunflower or early sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra) is an herbaceous, clumping perennial native to much of Eastern North America. Found naturally in dry to moist open woods, smooth oxeye is especially known for its long-flowering duration (June through September). The cheery, daisy-like flowers are comprised of yellow to orange-yellow rays surrounding a cone-shaped central disk. Flowers reach 2 to 3 inches across and are set atop stiff, upright stems 3 to 5 feet tall. Individual clumps eventually achieve a width of 2 to 4 feet.

Smooth oxeye thrives with minimal maintenance. Plant it in full sun and remove spent flowers to prolong peak bloom and divide clumps every few years to maintain vigorous plants. If given too much shade, stems can flop and will require staking. Use smooth oxeye in native plant gardens, meadows or in the back of the perennial border. Many cultivars are available with improved flowering characteristics. ‘Sommersonne’ is more compact (2 to 3 feet) and has orange-yellow centers on occasionally double flowers. The flowers of ‘Summer Nights’ have brown centers and bloom profusely upon tall, dark red stems.

Common Name: Smooth oxeye, false sunflower, early sunflower

Botanical Name: Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra

Flowers: Daisy-like, yellow to orange-yellow

Foliage: Dark green, roughly serrate

Size: 3 to 5 feet tall, 2 to 4 feet wide

Exposure: Full sun

Soil: Dry to moist, well-drained

Watering: Does better with supplemental water.

Pruning: Cut back spent flowers to prolong flowering.

In Your Landscape: Native plant gardens,  perennial borders, meadows

From Pennsylvania Gardener Volume III Issue I. Photos by Barrett Wilson.

 


Barrett Wilson is a research specialist in horticulture for Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square.