Thursday, September 27, 2018

Fall Plant Sale Preview: Willow-leaf Sunflower 'Low Down'

Willow-leaf sunflower. Photo courtesy of USDA-NRCS Plants Database.
By Katherine Hale

Who doesn’t love sunflowers? Bright, cheerful, and adored by pollinators, the perennial willow-leaf sunflower (Helianthus salicifolius) dots Midwestern watercourses with its iconic yellow flowers every fall without fail. But its vigorous growth—rising 8 feet or more under ideal conditions—makes it too tall and unwieldy for the average garden in its wild form, flopping over in heavy rains or overshadowing its neighbors.

Fortunately, horticulturists came to the rescue and transformed the willow-leaf sunflower through selective breeding. Enter ‘Low Down’, a compact and well-behaved dwarf cultivar with all the charisma of its bigger brothers. Why bother with pruning or staking when you could have a plant appropriately sized for a garden and save yourself the effort? Topping out at 18 inches, ‘Low Down’ is an excellent choice for a perennial border, container garden, wildflower meadow or anywhere in full sun where a colorful look is desired.

Like all sunflowers, ‘Low Down’ attracts wildlife, but only the kind you want to see in your garden—bumblebees, goldfinches and migrating birds, as opposed to deer and insect pests. A hardy perennial, ‘Low Down’ offers more blooms for your buck without the need for constant replanting. Willow-leaf sunflowers look great in a vase or in a field with ornamental grasses and traditional autumn stalwarts like asters and chrysanthemums.

Good things come in all shapes and sizes. For gardeners, sunflower cultivars like ‘Low Down’ prove that sometimes less really is more.

Date: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018
Time: 9 a.m.-noon
Member benefits: Duke Gardens members get 10% off all purchases, plus access to the members-only previews sale from 8-9 a.m., and a full list of plants in advance! Join online or on site beginning at 7:30 a.m.
Parking: Free.
Pets not permitted. Please see Duke Gardens' pets policy here.
Wagons + boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Your support helps Duke Gardens to provide summer internships to aspiring horticulturists from across the nation.
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word by sharing the event on Facebook and inviting your friends.
Thank you!

No comments:

Post a Comment