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Swamp sunflower can be found in wetland and swampy areas.

Swamp sunflower can be found in wetland and swampy areas. USDA, NRCS. 2012. The PLANTS Database (, 8 October 2012). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Helianthus angustifolius

Swamp sunflower, narrow leaved sunflower

Native to North America


FIRST IMPRESSIONS:  Helianthus angustfolius is an upright clumping perennial wildflower.  The attractive leaves are bright green thick and glossy.  In autumn lovely clouds of golden daisies attract drifts of migrating butterflies.  This late blooming sunflower extends the season of yellow flowers until frost.  Plants reach a stately 6’ or taller in sunny or partly sunny moist sites.

HABITAT & HARDINESS:  Helianthus angustifolius occurs in the eastern United States from New York to Florida and west to Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.  Distribution is greatest in the coastal plain and plants are most common in open or lightly shaded moist sites.

Habitats include floodplains, open bottomland forests, swamps, bogs, wet meadows, savannas, coastal salt marshes, wet flatwoods, pine barrens, roadsides, ditches and disturbed wet areas.

Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 5-9.

PLANT DESCRIPTION:  Helianthus angustifolius is an erect perennial with sturdy green or purplish pubescent stems.

Leaves are lance shaped or linear.  Blades are long and narrow.  They average a 6” length with diameter of about ½”.  They are sessile with no stalks.  The smooth margins are usually revolute or rolled under.  The leaf surface is often glossy but sometimes dull.

Stems terminate in numerous 2-3” flowerheads.   The heads consist of dark globe shaped clusters of disc florets surrounded by 10-20 golden yellow ray florets.  

This is the latest flowering of the sunflowers.  Flowering begins in September or October and continues until frost.  The starry daisies are particularly striking against the intense blue October sky.

Golden brown seed clusters follow and remain into winter to feed the birds.

Plants grow 5-7’ and up to 10’ tall with 4-6’ or greater spread.

CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDSHelianthus angustifolius is easy to grow in sunny sites with acidic moist or wet soil.

Plants thrive in well drained loamy or clay soils.  They tolerate some salt and a bit of drought after establishment.

Avoid fertilization as this leads to stem weakness.  Pruning in early summer encourages stronger stems and denser growth.  In garden situations, staking or other support may be needed.  Or… allow nature to take its course as this gentle giant collapses gracefully under the weight of all those flowers.

Plants are pest resistant and unpalatable to deer and other herbivores. 

LANDSCAPE USES:  This plant injects spectacular late fall color into a Wildlife Garden or Meadow. Plants are also used as Butterfly Nectar Plants, Butterfly Host Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting.   Helianthus angustifolius has Showy Blooms and is a stunning Accent for Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Rain Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings, Perennial Borders and Roadsides.

COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS:  Try pairing Helianthus angustifolius with Aster oblongifolius, Hibiscus moscheutos, Monarda fistulosa, Panicum virgatum and Schizachyrium scoparium.

Helianthus decapetalus could be substituted in situations where some shade is present.  The two have similar flower apprearance and cultural requirements.

TRIVIA:  Native bees, honeybees, wasps, pollinating flies, butterflies and beetles seek the nectar and pollen.  Plants host caterpillars of Silvery Checkerspot, Gorgone Checkerspot, Bordered Patch and Painted Lady butterflies.  Seeds are relished by American goldfinch and many other songbirds.

Sometimes known as Swamp Sunflower due to its habitat preferences.  In the South this species is occasionally called Mountain Daisy because in bloom it looks like a mountain of daisies.


5-7 ft


4-6 ft


3-4 ft

USDA Hardiness Zone:


Bloom Color:


Helianthus angustifolius Characteristics

Attracts Wildlife

  • Butterflies
  • Songbirds
  • Pollinators


  • Drought Tolerant
  • Cut Flower
  • Clay Soil
  • Bog
  • Naturalizing
  • East-Coast Native


  • Full Sun to Partial Shade

Deer Resistant

  • Deer Resistant

Flowering Months

  • November
  • October

Foliage Color

  • Green

Juglans nigra Tolerance (Black Walnut)

  • Yes

Soil Moisture Preference

  • Moist to Wet

Interesting Notes:

For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database:

Plants that work well with Helianthus angustifolius ''

Swamp milkweed Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Swamp milkweed Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet')
Aromatic aster Aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius)
Swamp mallow Swamp mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
Wild bergamot Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
Switch grass Switch grass (Panicum virgatum)
Scarlet rose mallow Scarlet rose mallow (Hibiscus coccineus)
New York ironweed New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)
Disco Belle Red Hardy Hibiscus Disco Belle Red Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos 'Disco Belle Red')
Disco Belle Pink Hardy Hibiscus Disco Belle Pink Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos 'Disco Belle Pink')

Substitutions for Helianthus angustifolius

Cup plant Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum)
Ten petaled sunflower Ten petaled sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus)