Maximillian Sunflower

A perennial wildflower that attracts birds & butterflies

Maximillian Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani) is a native perennial wildflower. It grows from 3 - 10 feet tall depending on conditions and blooms in late summer.

In my Virginia gardens, it easily gets 9 or 10 feet tall and blooms in late August and well into September.

About 4 or 5 years ago I planted 2 teeny, tiny Maximillian Sunflower plants. They grew easily and the plants doubled (or tripled or quadrupled) quickly. They also reseeded themselves all over the place. I now have what seems like hundreds of plants. Too many, really -- but I'm always glad to see them flower in late summer, when most other plants have stopped flowering. They are cheery, bright flowers!!

Growing Maximillian Sunflowers

Maximillian Sunflower is a native wildflower and grows in meadows and prairies throughout much of the United States. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the plant was named for Prince Maximillian of Germany, who discovered the wild flower during an expedition into the American West in the 1830's.

It works well in formal gardens too, as long as you keep it under control. The flowers are about 4 or 5 inches across and each stalk gets a ton of flowers on the top of it which can make the taller plants flop over because they become so top heavy.

Helianthus maximiliani

If you plant Maximillian Sunflower in a formal flower bed, you'll want to not only put them in the back (they can get super tall!), but you also might consider staking them in late summer when they start to bloom. Otherwise, the taller ones might flop over onto everything else and pretty much make a big mess (well, that is if you don't like a big mess in your gardens!).

One thing I've discovered is that if you cut them back really hard early in the summer, they won't get as tall, but they will still flower profusely in late summer. When they aren't allowed to get really tall, they won't be as likely to flop over and make a mess. In moments of desperation, I've even used a lawnmower on them in June and they come right back, but on a shorter scale.

Maximillian Sunflower

Over the years, I've worked to move my Maximillian Sunflower out of my formal beds and into my wildflower areas. That way, I can just let them go and don't have to worry about them flopping over and creating a mess where I don't want one. They create a ton of seed and the birds really, really love them (especially Gold Finches). So, if you are looking for a tall, late blooming wild flower that attracts and feeds birds & butterflies, Maximillian Sunflower could be a good choice!

Maximillian Sunflower is hardy in zones 3-9.

Sep 12 2013
Posted in: Flowers

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September 12, 2013



September 12, 2013

I do too -- they are so sunny and cheery

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