top of page

Willow Leaf Sunflower (Helianthus salicifolius 'First Light')

Common Name: willow-leaved sunflower

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Family: Asteraceae

Zone: 6 to 9

Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet

Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet

Bloom Time: September to October

Bloom Description: Yellow rays with brown center disk

Sun: Full sun

Water: Medium

Maintenance: Low

Flower: Showy

Attracts: Birds, Butterflies

Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil

Garden locations


Easily grown in medium moisture, well-drained, average garden soils in full sun. Needs full sun for best flowering. Tolerates somewhat poorer soils that are on the dry side. Best planted in a sheltered location in the St. Louis area where it may not be reliably winter hardy. Any seeds produced by this cultivar will reportedly be sterile.

Noteworthy Characteristics

‘First Light’ is a perennial sunflower cultivar that produces a clump of foliage to 44” tall. Foliage is covered in fall (September–October) with a profuse bloom of 2.5-3” diameter sunflowers with golden yellow rays and brown center disks. Narrow, hairy, linear leaves (to 4” long). Parents of this patented cultivar are unpatented H. salicifolia (willow-leaved sunflower) cultivars ‘Golden Pyramid’ and ‘Autumn Glory’. An introduction of Blooms of Bressingham who have given it the common name of willow-leaved sunflower. U. S. Plant Patent #13,150 issued October 29, 2002.


No serious insect or disease problems. Sunflowers are generally susceptible to rust, leaf fungal spots and powdery mildew. Caterpillars and beetles may chew on the foliage.

Garden Uses

Specimen or mass. Borders, cottage gardens or bird gardens.

bottom of page