What is Heliopsis?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Heliopsis is a genus of perennial flowering plants known and prized for being very hardy. Members of this genus can be cultivated almost anywhere in the world and should thrive under a variety of conditions. Nurseries may make seeds and seedlings available for people interested in growing these plants, and it is also possible to make arrangements for trades with other gardeners to access cultivars of interest. Divisions and stem cuttings can sometimes be used for propagation as well.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

These members of the daisy family have dark green simple leaves with lightly serrated edges that tend to grow in a clustered mound near the ground. Bright yellow flowers are produced on branching stems and will bloom for an extended period of time through the spring and summer. Sometimes known as false sunflowers, Heliopsis species are very bright and bold and tend to stand out in the garden thanks to the dark foliage and long blooming period.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones three through 10 are usually suitable for growing Heliopsis. The plants can be cultivated in full sun or partial shade and are tolerant of a variety of soil conditions. In addition, they can withstand drought very well and will flourish in a low-water garden. While the foliage may dull after a prolonged period without water, the plant itself should survive. Cold temperatures in the fall and winter usually do not cause lasting damage.

Members of the Heliopsis genus are ideal for cultivation as bedding plants, where they have some room to spread and tumble. They can also be grown in containers and used as borders and edging. Some pruning and pinching back may be required to keep a plant looking neat and tidy and to prevent the plant from taking over the garden. Invasiveness is a concern in gardens with fragile plants or gardens in areas with vulnerable native species.

Periodically, clumps of Heliopsis should be dug up and divided to make room around the stems and roots. This will help prevent rot, as well as insect and mold infestations of the plant. These divisions can also be used to propagate new plants. Seeds can also be collected for propagation, although seeds may not breed true, as many cultivars hybridize vigorously. In the case of patented plants, the plant may also have been genetically modified for sterility so it cannot readily be propagated, a technique used by flower producers to protect their patents.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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