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Native Garden

​​​​​Elliott's Aster

Helianthus debilis

  • Common name: Cucumberleaf sunflower, beach sunflower, weak sunflower, East Coast dune sunflower
  • Scientific name: Helianthus debilis
  • Family name: Asteraceae
  • Origin: United States Atlantic and Gulf coasts
  • Height: 1 to 2.5 ft
  • Width: 2 to 8 ft
  • Growth: Fast
  • Zone: USDA zones 8 through 11
  • Light needs: Full sun
  • Salt tolerance: Very tolerant of salt spray, but not tolerant of saltwater inundation
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Prefers a sandy, well drained soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5.2 and 7.2.
  • Moisture: Water until established. Once established, this plant will not need regular watering.
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Pests/Diseases: Overwatering may cause sunflower rust.
  • Growing conditions: This plant should grow in a warm, sunny, and dry area. Sandy soil is the recommended substrate for it, although it can be planted in other types of soil if it is well-drained and not too moist. Because of its drought tolerance and low water needs, this plant is suitable for coastal areas and other dry environments.
  • Characteristics: This plant grows quickly and forms a low, dense thicket. The stems are thin and light green. Leaves are spade-shaped, alternately arranged, and toothed along the edges. Flowers are bright yellow with 10 to 20 petals surrounding a dark brown center. Fruits and seeds are dark brown and inconspicuous. This plant is an annual that will die back in winter, but it readily self-seeds and will grow back the next year.
  • Propagation: By seeds
  • Wildlife: Small animals often live in the thicket that this plant forms and will eat the seeds. The flowers attract butterflies and bees.
  • Facts: There are several subspecies, many of which are endemic to different areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
  • Designer considerations: This plant is a common choice for coastal gardens, where it is very low-maintenance and adds pops of color. It is also a good choice for butterfly gardens and native plant gardens. Since it grows low to the ground, it should be paired with taller plants, especially other colorful wildflowers.​​

Elliott's Aster