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Look in a field and you'll see a lot of sunflowers. They're big and bold and work hard. So what if they're wrong?Also known as oxeye sunflowers, false sunflowers are easy-growing herbaceous perennial plants that naturalize in grasslands and at the edge of woodlands. They are a native wildflower in a large portion of North America—everywhere except for the western third of the continent. In the garden, they're best started in the spring or fall, and they grow fairly quickly but likely won't bloom in their first year. False sunflowers feature triangular-shaped leaves and branching stems that allow the plants to grow in a bushy habit. The double or single daisy-like, yellow-orange flowers surround a cone-shaped, golden-brown center disk.
You can start false sunflowers by seed in either the spring or fall. For spring, start seeds indoors four to six weeks before your last frost date. In the fall, you can start seeds in flats or direct sow in mid- to late August. As perennials, they tend to begin blooming in their second year, so a spring seedling might not flower the year it's planted. However, seeds started in the fall should provide blooms the following summer.In general, false sunflowers don't have any serious pest or disease issues. But aphids can be a problem for the plants, as can powdery mildew. With aphids, you might notice crumpled or otherwise damaged foliage. And with powdery mildew, you’ll see splotches of white or gray on the leaves and stems. Providing good air circulation for your plants can help to prevent and mitigate both of these issues before you turn to insecticides or fungicides.Although not a true sunflower, this impressively tall plant with brilliant yellow daisy-like flowers adds cheery color to the back of a garden or border. Some smaller varieties are better suited to the middle of the garden.
False sunflower is more compact (so less likely to flop) than the real deal. It also starts blooming earlier so you can enjoy the single, semidouble, or double flowers over the span of many weeks.False sunflower is occasionally bothered by powdery mildew, a foliar fungus that manifests as a white powdery coating on lower leaves. While this condition is unsightly, it will not likely do long-term damage. The best control is prevention. If your plants experienced powdery mildew the previous season, clean up last year's debris in the spring. Planting false sunflower in full sun keeps foliage drier, another option for preventing mildew.This plant looks like true sunflowers, which are in the genus Helianthus. Unlike sunflowers, its rays persist on the flower heads; the rays of sunflowers wither and fall away. It is placed in Heliopsis due to its cone-shaped central disk. Oxeye is hardy and easily grown as a showy garden perennial in dry sites and is a good choice for clay soil. (Source: www.wildflower.org)