The sunflower, aptly named after the sun, stands alone in having “flower” in its name. It follows the sun’s path, exhibiting heliotropism by facing east in the morning and west at dusk. Within a mere six months, these incredible flowers can grow to impressive heights of eight to 12 feet. The tallest sunflower on record, grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer in Karst, Nordrhein Westfalen, Germany, reached a staggering 30 feet and 1 inch, earning a place in the Guinness World Records.
Comprising 1,000-2,000 smaller flowers, sunflowers boast up to 2,000 seeds, which typically adhere to the Fibonacci sequence. These seeds come in black or striped varieties, with black seeds being used for oil production and striped seeds favored for snacks.
Discover more about these remarkable flowers and explore the multitude of reasons why they should grace your garden.
To cultivate American Giant sunflowers, it is advisable to separate them from other flowers as they can grow as tall as 15 feet. With heads reaching up to 12 inches in width, it’s no surprise that the word “giant” is part of their name.
Displaying petals in shades of red, bronze, and yellow, Autumn Beauty sunflowers grow to a height of five feet. Their blooms can span up to five inches, while the stems come in various colors and designs.
The Bashful sunflower features salmon and pastel yellow, pollen-free petals measuring four inches. This stunning flower reaches a height of three feet, and its captivating color combination is truly remarkable.
Although smaller in size compared to other sunflowers, Big Smile’s bright yellow flowers with yellow-gold centers and pointed tips can expand up to six inches wide and reach a height of two feet. Their cheerful appearance makes them highly popular among flower enthusiasts.
With a dark center and burgundy-red petals, Chianti sunflowers might initially be mistaken for something other than sunflowers due to their distinctive appearance. The flower’s dark color adds an exquisite touch and offers an elegant contrast to the lighter blooms already present in your garden.
True to its name, the Chocolate Cherry sunflower exhibits chocolate-burgundy petals and a dark center. This medium-sized plant stands out with its unique and captivating colors.
Earthwalker sunflowers feature striking petals in darker hues such as burgundy, gold, and brown. With a large center and slightly pointed petals, this variety can reach an impressive height of six to nine feet. These sunflowers are bound to catch everyone’s attention due to their extraordinary colors and towering presence.
Butterflies find Elf sunflowers particularly appealing. Growing to a height of 16 inches, these sunflowers boast four-inch-wide blooms, making them a perfect choice for small spaces or any area where you desire a splash of color.
Characterized by abundant gold and russet blooms, Firecracker sunflowers reach a height of two to three feet. Alongside Chocolate Cherry and Chocolate Gold, Firecracker is an ideal addition to fall arrangements due to its rich and dark color palette.
Giant Sungold sunflowers, also known as Teddy Bears, are double-blooming beauties with a thick, bushy appearance and a diminutive center. These sunflowers can produce blooms as wide as eight inches and tower over six feet in height. Their lovely yellow-gold shade adds a touch of radiance, captivating anyone who gazes upon them.
Perfect for county fairs, the Giganteus sunflower boasts heads that can grow up to one foot or more in width, accompanied by a towering height of 12 feet. It generously yields copious amounts of seeds and doesn’t require staking. Birds and humans alike will relish its bountiful harvest.
Hopi Black Dye
Once utilized by Native Americans for food and dyeing purposes, the Hopi Black Dye sunflower reaches a height of approximately nine feet. Its golden yellow petals surround a dark blue-black center, creating a striking and unforgettable sight.
Italian White sunflowers feature whitish-yellow petals and a sizable chocolate center. One of their notable attributes is their ability to produce an abundance of blooms throughout the growing season. These sunflowers can grow to a height of five to seven feet and are reliable light bloomers.
A dwarf branching sunflower, Junior stands at a modest two feet in height. Its bright yellow, four-inch-wide blooms add a vibrant touch wherever they are planted.
The Kong Hybrid sunflower is a robust plant, reaching a towering height of 14 feet. It boasts large centers and bright yellow petals that can expand up to 10 inches wide, offering a perfect color combination.
Loved by pollinators, Lemon Queen sunflowers feature wide, bright yellow petals and a broad center. With its short petals, this variety reaches a height of four feet and is highly cherished by bees.
Perfect for limited spaces, Little Becka sunflowers grow to a height of three feet. Their six-inch petals transition from gold to crimson and back to gold, creating a striking contrast of colors. For an even smaller version, consider the Sunny Smile, which stands at a compact height of 12-15 inches and is perfect for patios and containers.
For those seeking sunflowers for competitions, the Mammoth Russian variety is an excellent choice. These sunflowers feature bright gold petals with pointed tips and can grow as tall as nine to 12 feet. Their large striped seeds are a notable characteristic and make them a common sight at county fairs.
Among the most captivating dark bloomers, the Moulin Rouge sunflower exhibits bold burgundy-dark red petals and a wide, dark center. Standing at approximately four feet tall, it also comes in a chocolate variety, featuring dark brown petals.
Distinguished from traditional-looking sunflowers, Ms. Mars displays dark-red to purple petals with a cream-colored tip, accentuated by its large, dark center. Reaching a height of two feet, these sunflowers make excellent borders or stunning additions to a vase.
Pacino sunflowers are dwarf varieties, growing to a height of two feet or less. They feature bright yellow petals and a beautiful yellow-copper center. Each plant can produce multiple heads, making them suitable for planters or large pots.
The Royal Hybrid sunflower yields a plentiful supply of eight-inch heads, primarily used for bird and human feed and snacks. With a height exceeding seven feet, it produces an abundant seed harvest that justifies its cultivation.
A rare species, Schweinitz’s Flower typically reaches a height of approximately six and a half feet, occasionally exceeding this mark. Originating from the 1800s, it showcases long, bright yellow petals and a small center usually tinged with orange or yellow-orange hues.
As its name suggests, Skyscraper sunflowers tower to impressive heights, reaching up to 12 feet. With bright yellow petals and a yellow center, their durable stalks support blooms that can span a remarkable 14 inches in width, ensuring their prominence in any landscape.
Having won several international flower awards, the Soraya sunflower flaunts short, bright yellow petals surrounding a
dark center. Sturdy stems support its six-foot-tall stature, making it an exquisite addition to vases or containers. For a smaller version, consider the Suntastic, boasting up to 20 blooms per plant.
Strawberry Blond sunflowers captivate with their rose-pink petals featuring yellow-gold tips. These sunflowers grow to a height exceeding six feet, emanating exceptional beauty in every aspect.
As one of the dwarf sunflowers, Sundance Kid stands one to two feet tall. Its striking bright yellow, pointed petals enclose a large, seed-filled center exhibiting a bi-colored blend of red and yellow. It is also among the first domesticated dwarf sunflowers.
Sunforest Mix sunflowers present blooms that can stretch up to an impressive 40 inches in width. These plants generally reach a height of 10-15 feet. When planting this variety, ensure a three to four feet spacing between each sunflower to facilitate proper growth.
Sunny Smile sunflowers grow to a compact height of 12-15 inches, thriving best in early to late summer. Their small size makes them easy to grow, while sturdy stems ensure durability. Thus, whether placed in a garden or a container, they are sure to brighten up any space.
Super Snack Mix
As the name suggests, Super Snack Mix sunflowers are excellent for consumption, boasting some of the largest and easily crackable seeds. These seeds offer a delectable treat for both birds and humans. Attracting butterflies and bees, Super Snack Mix sunflowers grow to over six feet in height. Their loose petals end in pointed tips, enhancing their visual appeal.
Taiyo Sunflowers are ideal for cutting and arranging in vases. Originating from Japan, these heirloom sunflowers grow to a height of five to six feet and feature large flower heads. Their unusually large, dark centers come in various colors, complementing the bright golden leaves. Taiyo Sunflowers are frequently found in flower shops and grocery stores due to their classic “sunflower” appearance and overall beauty.
Terracotta sunflowers offer a perfect addition to fall displays. These sunflowers produce brown petals with cream-colored tips, accompanied by a large brown center, resulting in a striking appearance.
As an heirloom sunflower, Titan boasts blooms that can expand up to an astounding 24 inches in width, capturing attention with their undeniable charm.
Top Five Reasons to Grow Sunflowers:
1. Great for pollinators:
Sunflowers’ large, showy petals attract various pollinators, including bumblebees and honey bees. The sunflower’s center consists of numerous small florets, each abundant in pollen and nectar, serving as a valuable food source for bees. Opting for organic or non-GMO seeds is crucial to ensure the bees’ health and well-being.
2. Beautiful cut flowers:
Sunflowers make exceptional cut flowers, their vibrant colors and long stems adding visual appeal to any vase. When cutting sunflowers, do so in the morning to avoid heat retention and interference with bees searching for food sources. After cutting, immerse the stems in cool water for approximately 10 minutes to prevent re-sealing.
3. Abundance of free sunflower seeds:
Sunflower seeds come in a variety of colors, with black seeds being ideal for oil production due to their high oil content. These seeds offer numerous health benefits, containing selenium, Vitamin E, magnesium, and more. Enjoy them as a snack or as an addition to salads and other dishes, imparting a fresh, nutty flavor.
4. Attract birds to your garden:
Birds play a vital role in eliminating insects and pests. Sunflowers’ appeal to birds ensures their regular visits to your garden, creating a natural defense against pests. Consider adding a bird bath to provide a refreshing spot for birds after their feast. Chickens also adore sunflowers, so feeding them the spent flower heads serves as an additional treat.
5. Soil remediation:
Sunflowers possess the remarkable ability to draw out toxins and heavy metals from contaminated soil. As such, the larger your sunflower garden, the healthier your soil becomes. Sunflowers absorb toxic substances such as zinc, chromium, lead, arsenic, and copper, resulting in cleaner and more fertile soil, conducive to the growth of neighboring plants.