Add some Florida sunshine to your garden with a planting of Beach Sunflowers. Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis) is a native perennial that grows naturally along our shoreline on sand dunes. They flower nearly year round on the Treasure Coast and are a snap to grow and maintain.
I have welcomed Beach Sunflowers in my garden for several years. When supplied with sunshine and well drained soil (sandy like the beach is best) they are very easy to grow from seed or plants. The Sunflowers will reward you with flowers and will reseed a bit so seedlings can be shared with friends or moved around in the garden. The trick to moving the seedlings is to dig and move them when they are less than 3 inches tall and fully hydrated (right after a good rain)
These are good plants for growing by the mailbox (blistering hot sun doesn’t bother them). They will grow to about 24″ tall. This also makes them a good choice for the front of landscape beds or perennial garden or lining a walkway. I have planted them in all three places, the area around my mailbox is not irrigated and much to my surprise the Beach Sunflowers thrived and flowered until they were shaded out by a neighboring tree.
The seedlings are currently coming up in my front garden so I think the best time of year for planting seeds is during the cool season. Last year I moved the seedlings around in January, planting them about 18″ apart directly in the unamended sugar sand and in a few short months the bed was full of Sunflowers- by May I was cutting them back. They take well to shearing or cutting back with hand pruners if a more natural look is desired.
Where to find Beach Sunflowers
Plants can be found in nurseries in our area, but it is hit or miss and best to call around to check availability.
Online check http://www.plantrealflorida.org/ for sources of plants.
Seeds are available online from http://www.floridawildflowers.com.