I’m continuing to mark Texas Native Plant Week which I began on with this post on Sunday. This week, I’ve written about Rock Rose, Pavonia lasiopetala and Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus. Today, we visit Sunflower Goldeneye or Plateau Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata. Also, today is Wildflower Wednesday, so I’m joining with Gail at clay and limestone for our monthly tribute to all flowers wild.
Wildflower double prizes!
There are lots of lovely fall bloomers here in Central Texas, but none which brighten the garden more than the Sunflower Goldeneye–which I usually shorten to just plain old Goldeneye.
There’s nothing plain about this eye-catching ray of sunshine!
I love this blindingly cheery perennial sunflower! Native to Central Texas, west to Arizona and southward through Mexico and Central America, this plant packs a powerhouse of wildlife goodness. Goldeneye is the host plant for two butterflies, the Cassius Blue and the Bordered Patch (neither of which I’ve ever observed around my Goldeneye), but is also favored by bees and other butterflies. In my gardens, my hived honeybees are so all over the Goldeneye that often the plants look like they’re moving.
And once the flowers are spent and seed production begins? It’s a finch feeding fest!
Specifically, the Lesser Finch really love the seeds of Goldeneye. They’ve entertained me well this past week.
After the first hard freeze, the Goldeneye die to the ground. They’ll reappear though in late spring, growing fully and rapidly. During the course of summer, there will be a smattering of blooms, but mostly this perennial is all about its foliage in the summer, which are typical of sunflower leaves, large and rough textured. As Goldeneye fills out, it’s lush and neat in appearance. But after the first late August-September rains, Goldeneye burst forward in height and width and blossoms with masses of sunny, yellow blooms.
Like all wildflowers, there’s always some variability and difference between individual plants. Some Goldeneye flowers are larger, some smaller; some Goldeneye have very narrow petals,
…and some have wider petals.
I appreciate that each plant has its own “personality”–just a little different from its neighbor.
Goldeneye pair nicely with other fall bloomers.
These sunflowers grow and bloom in shade, but they get tall and lanky and tend to flop over once they are bloom heavy,
…which they will become in the fall. In mostly sunny spots though, they tend to remain more compact and stable.
As with other wildflowers, you should tolerate the rangy growth habit toward the end of Goldeneye’s growing season.
As lovely as most native plants and wildflowers are to us, they didn’t evolve to look pretty for people, but to provide food and cover for wildlife. Wildflowers are beautiful in our cultivated gardens for most of their growing season, but there’s almost always a short period of time after blooming and seeding, that wildflowers look spent from their wildflower production activities. Be patient with your native wild plants during that period of time.
You’ll be glad you did!
Gorgeous shots! Nothing is quite as cheerful as a sunflower. You’ve provided a wise reminder not to be too quick to run for the pruning shears the moment the flowers fade on our native perennials. I force myself to ignore the appearance of bluebonnets each spring past flowering for a few weeks to allow them to develop mature seed pods. With just a little patience on my end, the need to buy additional bluebonnet seed is mostly avoided.
I’d also point out if folks are hoping for their wildflowers to reseed in place, it is best not to spread a thick layer of mulch around these plants. Those seeds need to directly contact the soil to get their best start.
Sunflowers are happy flowers, aren’t they! So cheery…and yellow. It’s hard for many people to refrain from snipping and pruning as natives follow through their cycle, which includes a period of time where they don’t look “garden appropriate.” We’re so accustomed to wanting everything green and controlled in a garden–that’s a thought process that probably needs some reform. And to your point about not mulching too thickly–that is spot on! Natives don’t need the thick mulch and they will seed out more successfully for coming seasons without it. Thanks for that reminder!
Very pretty. I sometimes have trouble distinguishing all the yellow daisy-like flowers from each other but from your description I think I would be able to identify this one now. Just one question: in some of those photos it looks like it has reached the top of the fence. How tall do they usually get? I chuckled a bit at the picture of the flying bee with her super packed saddle bags. And the mulch thing. To mulch or not to mulch — that is the real question. To sacrifice an opportunity to improve tilth over the potential of plants seeding out. Every season I agonize over this.
I have the same problems with the yellow flowers. I’ve had people asked, “So what is that yellow flower?” My standard response is, “I dunno. Some yellow, daisy-thing. We have a million of ‘m here in Texas.” The goldeneye can get quite large. There is a section in my garden which is a work area–compost, storage, etc. I’ve let various plants just seed out there–including a mass of goldeneye. Actually, it’s a bit of a mess, but I love it. Those in that section are fairly tall, but they also grow taller in shade.
I also get a kick out of the pollen-laden bees. I love to watch them waddle–and they do waddle–into the hive after foraging. Sometimes I wonder how they manage to take off in flight, given how much pollen they’re carrying.
Mulching. Mostly, I’m a believer and practitioner of mulching. The work area I mentioned above, has no mulch–thus the proliferation of seeds. I use it as my seed bed. For my gardens though, except for yuccas and the like, I mulch.
Very pretty! Love that it serves a dual purpose for bees and birds. Great picture of the Finch feeding fest. The finches were all over my sunflowers seeds, however I never saw as many as you have in your garden at one time. The bees and birds in your garden must be happy, happy:)
The finch just love this plant! The were on my larger sunflowers too, earlier in the summer. I didn’t even realize how many finches were in the photos until I downloaded it. I hope the critters are happy–I am to please!
Great advice Tina about being patient with your native wildflowers once done blooming…and your goldeneye reminds me of native helianthus in flower and seedhead…beautiful wildflower!!
Thanks, Donna. I think it’s hard to change the idea of “beauty” in the garden, from the tidy, coifed look to a look that is more in keeping with what happen happens in nature. It takes some education and understanding of growing natives.
The goldeneye is lovely–such a favorite of mine and very photogenic! Those in the aster family–they’re such winners!
Yes, these blooms are photogenic. I love them! I don’t think I’ve heard of this kind of sunflower, since I am in Nebraska. I do have lots of yellow bloomers, though, and some that get a bit scraggly. Any kind of sunflowers that I try to grow get eaten by squirrels.
Hi Sue–thanks for stopping by! I love those little sunny things too! Yellow blooms, especially those in autumn, are gratifying. Mine also get scraggly–that’s coming soon, as the blooms are beginning to fade and seed development happens. Darn squirrels. I’ve never had them eat sunflowers, but they’re bad, bad little rodents about digging up my transplants.
What a beautiful wildflower! We don’t have it here in the Midwest, I’m pretty sure, but it reminds me of one the volunteer Rudbeckias I have, which the goldfinches love, too. Certainly a cheery flower!
Hi Rose! Well, those little finches seem to love anything in the aster family, so I’m not surprised that they like your rudbeckias. And I agree–the goldeneye are cheery!
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I found a few of these supposedly fall-blooming plants flowering in my neighborhood three weeks ago.
Yes, I have some blooming now, not quite what they do in October, but enough for me and the bees to notice.