Plant of the Month for November, 2013

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Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'


General Information:

Most people are surprised to learn that Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ is a perennial sunflower. This plant is a showstopper when in flower. Imagine a 6 foot shrub like plant that is covered with 2” yellow flowers for 6-8 weeks in late summer and fall and you will understand why this plant is considered by many as one of the very best perennials.

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Helianthus‘Lemon Queen’; photo by Robert Pavlis

Most sources are vague about the parentage of this plant, but a couple of references say that it is a natural hybrid of US natives H. pauciflorus var. subrhomboideus (Stiff Sunflower)  x H. tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke).  Looking at pictures on the net and plant descriptions I suspect that there are at least 2 varieties floating around. Some have quite pale yellow flowers and others have bright yellow flowers. Other features seem to be the same so any plant with the name Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ should be a good addition to your garden.

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Helianthus‘Lemon Queen’; photo by Robert Pavlis

Lemon Queen makes an impressive 6 feet of growth each year. Stems are quite strong and do not need to be staked unless the plant is grown in very rich soil. This plant can grow wet or dry, is not fussy about soil conditions and it seems to have no pests. What makes this plant really special is that it flowers at a time where your garden really needs a boost of colour; late summer and fall. Once it starts to flower it will continue for many weeks with a few flowers opening right up to frost.

When you buy this plant make sure you get the right Lemon Queen. There is also an annual sunflower version called Helianthus annuus ‘Lemon Queen’.

Life Cycle: perennial

Height: 2M (6ft)

Bloom Time: late August to late September

Natural Range: Midwest USA

Habitat: dry open fields



Light: full sun

Soil: not fussy

Water: average moisture to dry

USDA Hardiness Zone: (3?) 4– 9

Propagation: seed, division

Seedex availability (ORG&HPS annual Seed Exchange): rarely

Sow @4°C for 3 weeks, then place @20°C.
Robert Pavlis