Flowers: Yellow daisy like sunflowers with a chocolate brown centre, September/October
Drought tolerance: 5
Full sun, very heat tolerant
Comment on Helianthus maximiliani
Helianthus maximiliani or Maximilian’s sunflower is native to Eastern states of the USA. It makes a spectacular sparkling yellow early autumn show, buzzing with bees and smelling gorgeously of milk chocolate (yes this is true). The plant has erect stems, with multiple 10 cm sunflowers and green pleasant foliage throughout the hottest months, which is quite an asset in itself.
Helianthus maximiliani is robust and easy to grow, requiring only a prune back in winter and in my garden requires no extra water under a permeable membrane and gravel mulch, growing in virtually pure clay.
Easy to propagate too, from seed which germinates quickly (without stratification which strangely is often suggested) and easily or from pieces of its rhizomes. However it is rarely seen or mentioned in books, despite being so very much better as a a garden plant than many of the fussy plants that are available in nurseries. It is not the kind of plant that will suddenly take umbrage when planted out and then fade away. This plant deserves to be much more widely grown in large gardens.
Seeds can be obtained on the internet fairly easily and the plant will flower in its first year from a Spring (or later) sowing.
Leaves are lanceolate (pointed), slightly droopy and covered in hairs It spreads gently at first and then more robustly from rhizomes and will self seed in the garden; bring it on! Don’t imagine it is going to stay small however, it is a large plant and will form quite a mass over time, in the wrong place it could definitely be described as invasive.
Helianthus maximilani at south of France hotel