Not many plants flower their first year from seed. If sown early enough in spring, however, Heliopsis scabra (Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra) will be blooming like crazy by late summer. The scabra variety of this plant differs from the species in that it bears furry leaves that are thicker and have a rougher texture. Its blooms are similar, though, producing daisy-like yellow flowers with a deeper, sometimes orange, center, growing on a somewhat weedy-looking plant. Also known as ox eye, Heliopsis scabra is perennial when grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9.
Begin the ox eye germination process six to eight weeks before the last predicted frost date in your area.
Choose a germination pot that has holes in the bottom for drainage. If you’ll be reusing an old pot, clean it in hot water to which you’ve added a tablespoon of dishwashing soap. Use a scrubbing sponge or steel wool to scrub away stubborn dirt. Rinse the pot in clear water, then soak it for 15 minutes in a solution of 10 parts of water and 1 part of household bleach. Rinse the pot with clear water again, and allow it to air dry.
Fill the planting pot with a sterile seed starting potting mix. Seeds and tender seedlings are susceptible to various pathogens, so ensure that the mix is also well-draining so that they don’t sit in soggy soil.
Pour water over the planting mix, stirring, until it is uniformly moist. Set the mixture aside to drain. Wait until it is slightly moist throughout to plant the ox eye seeds.
Push the ox eye seed into the soil until it is buried to a depth that is four times its diameter.
Place a heat mat in an area that receives filtered sunlight, and set the thermostat to between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the germination pot on the mat. Check the planting mix periodically, and add enough water to keep it slightly moist. The ox eye seed should germinate within 15 days.
Gradually reduce the temperature of the heat mat over the course of one week until it is turned off when the seedlings have their third set of leaves.