Zone: 3 to 9
Soil: Sand to clay
Light: Full sun to part sun
Bloom colour: Yellow
Bloom period: Early to late summer
Height: 3 to 6 feet
Moisture: Dry to medium
Attracts: Bees, butterflies and goldfinches
Notes: Heliopsis helianthoides is both a fantastic garden plant and an attractive plant for wildlife. It is native to Ontario, New England and much of the mid-west. It is a fairly tough plant that blooms for most of the summer, producing a good cover of large yellow flowers.
Heliopsis looks like a sunflower, but it does not behave like one. It does not spread aggressively. It is easy to identify this plant as it starts blooming in June while a typical sunflower does not get going till August. In sunflowers, the lowest vein pair runs parallel to the midrib.
While the double flowers still attract a good share of bees such as the Megachile sp. shown, I would still plant the single flower cultivars. In this case, the cultivars are just as good as the native species in attracting pollinators and they look better with larger flowers. This plant may sometimes be plagued with red aphids (Uroleucon sp.). In these years most flowers will not form unless the aphids are mechanically removed.
Heliopsis 'Loraine Sunshine" is a short cultivar with rather unusual variegated leaves that curl up. Its flowers are smaller than other cultivars, but it works well in rock gardens or low island beds where it can take the heat. It has single flowers, a long bloom time and it is attractive to bees just like the native species.
The species grows in a range of soils and is quite adaptable. It even tolerates dry sandy soils, but it may do better with some shade.If you are looking to use a native plant in an ornamental bed, then Heliopsis is an outstanding choice.