Monday, 15 July 2013


My favourite sunflowers, and very unfairly neglected in the UK. The flowers are not bad - just a few, fresh yellow, on rigid upright stems, but the main thing is that they produce among the biggest, most luxuriant leaves of any hardy perennial - phenomenal at the front of the border emerging from lower growing types. These plants form a hefty root stock, but don't spread at all. Easy going but excellent on heavy fertile soils in sun.

Silphium laciniatum
Silphium laciniatum leavesSilphium laciniatum
Like some huge tropical fern - those leaves are 2ft tall. The stiff upright flower stem is a bonus, but cut it off if you don't like sunflowers. Easy in any fertile, retentive soil, and best at the front of the border where its stature can be appreciated. Perfect for prairie-style plantings, but best grown with plenty of space around it, or at the front to show the leaves off.
4L pots ~ £10

Silphium terebinthinaceum
Silphium terebinthinaceum
With huge aroid-like foliage (like a Colocasia or Anthurium?) to 12ins across - a stunning border plant, best grown among low foliage or in gravel to get the full effect.
Silphium terebinthinaceum
The flowers rise high above the leaves - to 10ft or more, and are smaller and on more slender stems than laciniatum, but still very tall.
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