Sunflowers are an enormously popular plant. They are synonymous with summer, and their bright open-faced flowers are guaranteed to make you smile. They are native to North America, though they have gained widespread popularity around the world since sunflower seeds were introduced to Europe in the 1500s.
Sunflowers are predominantly cultivated for food, with each flower being able to produce around 1,000 seeds. These seeds are edible and used in a variety of ways by people: in salads, smoothies, in bread, snacks, and more. The seeds can also be used to make sunflower oil, which is widely used cooking oil, much cheaper than olive oil. The seeds are also used as bird feed. For these purposes, the common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is most typically used. This sunflower is probably what comes to mind when most people think of sunflowers; it is tall with a coarse and furry stem and a bright wide face.
These sunflowers grow very quickly from seed, and can often have many flower heads per stem. Their leaves bear a resemblance to weeds, and in fact, some people do consider the common sunflower to be a weed as it is so easy to grow that it will often continue to thrive even when you don’t want it to! By comparison, sunflowers are grown as decoration in private gardens usually only have one flower per stem, and there is a wide range of varieties available to choose from.
Sunflowers belong to the Helianthus genus, and this is almost a direct translation of the words ‘sun’ and ‘flower,’ with the Greek for sun flower being ‘helios,’ it is not clear why the sunflower is named as such. Some people believe it is because the flower itself bears a strong resemblance to both the color and shape of the sun, while others suggest the sunflower was named because they are heliotropes, which means that the flowers move in accordance with the movement of the sun, the flower always wanting to face up at the sun.
There are over 70 cultivars of sunflowers, which make up the entire genus. These varieties can be divided into three groups for ease: giant sunflowers, dwarf sunflowers, and colored sunflowers. You can learn more about these types of sunflowers in the sections below.
- Key Points for Caring for Sunflowers
- Giant Sunflowers
- Dwarf Sunflowers
- Colored Sunflowers
- American Giant
- Autumn Beauty
- Big Smile
- Chocolate Cherry
- Giant Sungold
- Hopi Black Dye
- Italian White
- Kong Hybrid
- Lemon Queen
- Little Becka
- Mammoth Russian
- Moulin Rouge
- Ms. Mars
- Royal Hybrid
- Schweinitz’s Flower
- Strawberry Blond
- Sundance Kid
- Sunforest Mix
- Sunny Smile
- Super Snack Mix
- Taiyo Sunflowers
- Top Five Reasons to Grow Sunflowers
- Tall Sunflowers
- 8 Most Popular Colored Sunflowers
- Common Sunflower Cultivars – Different Kinds Of Sunflowers For The Garden
- Types of Sunflower Plants
- Gardening Terms
- Growing Conditions
- Traditional Tall Sunflowers
- Dwarf Sunflower Varieties
- My Final Thoughts
- Related Questions
- Main Sunflower Types for your Garden
- 1. Not All Sunflowers Are Yellow
- 2. Vincent Van Gogh Wasn’t the Only Sunflower Painter
- 3. Sunflowers Are Connected to Apollo
- 4. Sunflowers Can Range in Height
- 5. Young Sunflowers Track the Sun
- 6. Mature Sunflowers Face East
- 7. Sunflower Oil Has an Anti-Inflammatory Effect
- 8. There Are Two Types of Sunflower Seed Production
- 9. Sunflower Oils Can Reduce Cholesterol Levels
- 10. Sunflowers Are Native to the United States
- 11. Sunflowers Can Be Processed Into Sunbutter
- 12. There Are Thousands of Tiny Flowers That Create a Sunflower’s Head
- 13. The Tallest Sunflower is Over 30 Feet
- 14. Sunflowers Started as a Food Source
- 15. Sunflowers Can Self Pollinate
- 16. Sunflowers Can Be Cuddly
- The Tall
- The Small
- Colorful Varieties – Big & Small
- Fun in the Sun!
Key Points for Caring for Sunflowers
Although there are many varieties of sunflower, they tend to all have common care requirements. They are easy-to-care-for plants that need very little help to thrive, and in fact, the preparation you put into your soil and planting position will be the most important care elements of your sunflowers success, more so than anything you can do once the flowers are growing. To get the most out of your sunflowers, you can follow this care guide.
Sunflowers have long extended roots that need plenty of space to spread out, and because of this, they will do best in soil that is not too compacted and allows their roots to reach out easily. Plant your sunflower in loose soil which is not too heavy or waterlogged to meet this need.
If you are wanting your sunflower to truly thrive, you can adjust the pH of your soil. Sunflowers prefer slightly acidic soil, though they are not terribly fussy so do not worry about this too much.
Sunflowers need lots of sun, and ideally should be in a position of full sun for at least eight hours a day. If their requirement for plenty of direct sun is met, they will reward you with long-lasting blooms throughout summer and sometimes in to fall.
Sunflowers like warmth, and are heat tolerant. This means they need to grow in climates where summers are warm and long, and even very hot climates can happily grow sunflowers.
Like many flowering plants, sunflowers feed heavily and so require nutrient-dense soil with plenty of organic matter. If you are concerned that your soil doesn’t contain enough nutrients, you can use organic compost to top dress your soil, or feed your plants with a liquid fertilizer. Using liquid fertilizer over other types is important for sunflowers because it is more quickly absorbed and easy to measure.
Sunflowers are drought tolerant, and though they like to receive moderate waterings, they will respond badly to overwatering. Your first line of defense to reduce the chances of your sunflowers from being overwatered is to ensure your soil is well-draining. If the soil drains well, then excess water from rain or heavy waterings won’t present a problem, as the water will drain away. Poor-draining soil will become waterlogged easily if over watered, and the plant will suffer from root rot. Typically, plants won’t survive this.
Once you have ensured your soil is well draining, the next step to prevent waterlogged soil is to simply not overwater your plant. Supply your sunflower with a reasonable amount of water, but if you are unsure, you can err on the side of caution as this plant is drought tolerant. It would rather have too little water than have too much. There is no hard and fast rule in terms of how much or how often you should water sunflowers, as this will largely be dependent on the light, temperature, and soil type, but as a general rule, you can add more water when the top layer of soil has dried out.
Shelter and Support
Sunflowers are susceptible to damage from winds, so ideally, plant them in a sheltered spot alongside walls or fences. Tall sunflowers will need support as they reach great heights to prevent them from collapsing under the weight of their large flowers.
These types of sunflowers are quite a sight to behold. They can grow to staggering heights, with the tallest ever recorded sunflower measuring in at 30 feet 1 inch. You can typically expect these sunflowers to reach around 10 to 12 feet, while some of the tallest varieties will exceed 16 feet. Some growers of sunflowers become obsessed with wanting to produce the tallest sunflower with the largest face, and there are many fairs and events around the world where growers come together to compete with their most impressive sunflowers.
It is sunflowers selected from this group of ‘Giant Sunflowers’ that people choose to grow competitively. These sunflowers are also popularly used in home gardens to create a striking feature along walls or fences. Due to their height, they do require support in the form of canes or ties to prevent the stems from arching or collapsing under the weight of the flower heads. These types of sunflowers are also a good option to grow with children, as they are easy to sow from seed and typically grow rapidly to a great height with impressive flowers, much to the amazement of small children.
Varieties of giant sunflowers include:
These sunflowers are some of the tallest available, typically growing to between 12 and 14 feet. Their flower heads are equally impressive, spanning 16 inches across in a beautifully dazzling shade of bright yellow with a deep orange center. They can be sown easily from seed around four weeks before the last frost, or directly sown outside once all risk of frost has passed. They take between two and three weeks to germinate, making them an excellent project for children. They require full sun, with plenty of water in nutrient-dense soil.
2. American Giant Hybrid
This variety is the beast of all sunflowers. It is the most popularly used sunflower in growing competitions, as it grows to be the tallest, typically between 10 and 16 feet, though it is not uncommon for them to grow even taller than this. The stems are chunky and sturdy, specifically developed to withstand the weight of the sunflower head, which is surprisingly not the largest flower available, measuring a humble 10 inches across. The flower face is dark brown in color, with the surrounding petals being bright yellow. They germinate in just one or two weeks during spring and bloom in summer. If grown in a row, they make an ideal screen or shade, or can simply be grown to impress your friends and family. They prefer well-draining soil, full sun, and plenty of water.
3. Russian Mammoth
This giant sunflower grows between 9 and 12 feet tall, with flowers growing up to 14 inches across. Though it likes full sun, it will need to be grown in a location that is sheltered from the wind to prevent its large flowers from being caught in a storm. This sunflower is especially popular with pollinators, including bees and butterflies, as well as birds and squirrels who feast on the edible seeds, while being resistant to deer. It is a great low-maintenance option, growing well in moderately fertile well-draining soil and requiring little attention after the plant has germinated. It blooms in mid to late summer with glorious blooms; the flower petals are a deep yellow, while the face is an orange-brown.
4. Giant Sungold
You can mistaken the Helianthus annuus ‘Giant Sungold’ for the Teddy Bear sunflower by the first look at its flower. They both have very dense layers of petals, but in fact, the Giant Sungold has deeper fluffy golden heads. It has a much bigger size and can grow to over 6 ft in height. This is such a beautiful, low-maintenance sunflower that fit any gardens or perennial borders.
These sunflowers look like miniature versions of full-sized sunflowers and look cute in children’s gardens or in flower beds and container gardens. Their care is much the same as larger sunflowers, except for the fact that due to their smaller stature, they do not require support to stand erect. They make excellent cut flowers and tend to last a long time. Just like other types of sunflowers, there are many cultivars available with different advantages to suit any sunflower lover’s garden.
Credit to chipmunk_1
This variety of sunflower looks like a miniature version of the common sunflower, with an almost identical look to it at a fraction of the size. Growing to a height of just 14 inches, the Elf sunflower looks cute when grown in groups in containers or flower beds. It is one of the most popular dwarf varieties, ideal for children’s gardens and for attracting butterflies. The flower heads grow to four inches across and look great in cut flower arrangements. Sow them around three weeks before the final frost to ensure they are flowering between mid to late summer.
6. Suntastic Yellow
This dwarf sunflower can grow to 20 inches in height and is a perfect sunflower grown in the garden, pots, containers or window boxes. Very charming with its small sizes, dark gold petals and black center, Suntastic Yellow sunflower is able to produce as many as 20 flowers each plant. It enjoys full sun, and well-drained soils and can bloom after 2 months of sowing.
Another dwarf or semi-dwarf variety sunflower type. Firecracker sunflower is a common sunflower that can grow up to 90 cm in height, and 20-30 cm in width, making it perfectly great to grow in pots or containers. When blooming, its flower has orange-golden hue tones and dark chocolate brown centers.
8. Dwarf Incredible
These impressive plants have full-sized sunflower heads on short stems. The sunflower face measures between 12 and 18 inches atop a stem measuring between one and two feet. Their compact size makes them ideal for growing in containers, and interestingly, these can also be grown indoors, but this can be much trickier than growing outside. When kept as houseplants, the seeds can be sown at any time of year, though sunflowers intended for use outside will need to be sown around three weeks before the last frost. Indoor sunflowers should be kept in continually moist but not wet soil. Pinch off new branch tips as they appear, as this will encourage more bushy growth and will also result in several flowers blooming on each stem.
9. Teddy Bear
Credit to Mike Peel
With fully double flowers at the height of just 16 to 24 inches, this is an adorable annual. Looking like a much smaller version of the ‘Golden Bear,’ the flowers of the ‘Teddy Bear’ have a fluffy appeal to them. As well as the seeds, the petals of this flower are edible and can be sprinkled on top of salads to add a shock of rich orange-yellow color, or used on top of cakes for a pretty decoration. This plant makes beautiful cut flowers in floral arrangements, as well as an ornamental grown in containers or flower beds in the garden. The flowers bloom for a good length of time, from mid-summer to early fall. Due to these many fantastic characteristics, this variety of sunflower was the recipient of the coveted Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 2015.
This dwarf variety is unusual in that it produces a mass of flowers per individual plant. The numerous striking yellow blooms appear thanks to the plants branching habit. These plants perform well in borders, as well as in containers, or in pots within the home. Heightwise, these flowers will grow to a maximum of two feet tall, making them a manageable plant for almost anyone to grow. Their flowers are medium in size, in a bright shade of yellow.
11. Little Becka
At two to three feet tall, this plant is not the most compact of the dwarf varieties, but it is considerably shorter than the giant varieties and features some of the most beautiful blooms of any sunflower. The flowers measure six inches across and have red-brown faces. The petals start out like a burnt orange color near the center of the flower, fading into a deep red, and back to orange again at the tips. This plant matures early and has a branching habit that results in numerous flowers. These stunning pollen-free flowers look fabulous contrasting with other dwarf varieties. Plant the alongside yellow dwarf sunflowers to give the best impact.
Colored sunflowers truly stand out from the crowd, with their clear sunflower style in an array of unexpected different colors. They come in various sizes and look particularly striking when growing amidst regular yellow sunflowers. For contrast, select two different colored sunflower cultivars, one in a pale color and one in a dark red.
12. Italian White
This demure-looking sunflower is a heavy pollinator. Growing to around five feet in height, this variety produces flowers with dark chocolate brown faces and creamy colored petals. The petals are more slender and less crowded than those on your typical sunflower, giving these blooms a look that is similar to a daisy. They look good planted with red sunflower varieties and make brilliant cut flowers. Sow these sunflowers from seed in early spring. They can be sown inside or planted directly outside in their final positions. Ensure they have access to full sun and well-draining soil.
13. Moulin Rouge
This popular-colored sunflower has deep red petals surrounding a dark flower face. It grows to around four feet in height, with blooms of around five inches across. It remains one of the most sought-after of the red sunflowers thanks to its branching habit and its pollen-free flowers. It also has the advantage of its intense red petals being resistant to fading caused by strong sunlight.
14. Strawberry Blonde
These sunflowers are a particularly unusual color, with the outermost edge of the petals being a soft cream that fades into a color which is somewhere between red and pink with a mild hint of orange. The subtle coloring gives a dreamy feel to these beautiful flowers and is a strong contrast to the dark chocolate brown center. These sunflowers grow to a maximum of five feet tall and have a branching habit. Plant them between one and two feet apart to allow for them to branch freely and have space to produce multiple flowers on each plant.
Credit to timothyfenn
With a variety of the earth color tones in its flower, Earthwalker is an easy-to-grow sunflower, growing up to 6-9 feet tall, and can produce many charming heads. Children love this flower in the garden for its summer color tones (a mix of oranges, reds, mahogany, and brown), incredible height, and daisy-like flowers. Earthwalker can bloom after 10-12 weeks of sowing and can last from mid-summer through the first frost period.
16. Sunrich Lime
This pollen-less sunflower grows vibrant blooms on single stems. The central disc is a lime color, which is what sets it apart from most sunflowers which have darker discs and is surrounded by lemon-yellow petals. This reliable hybrid will produce flowers every year measuring six inches across, with a plant height of six feet. It grows quickly, reaching maturity in around 60 days.
Credit to audreyjm529
This is one of the darkest sunflowers available, in a deep, highly pigmented red wine color. It has a branching habit that produces plenty of flowers on purple-colored stems. Growing to between 4 feet and 6 feet tall, this is a medium-height sunflower and looks fabulous contrasting against paler sunflowers. It is also a pollen-free sunflower, with an intense dark center.
Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
North Carolina State University Extension
Get to know more of this amazing flower and find even more reasons why they should be planted in your garden.
The sunflower is the only flower with a “flower” in its name and is aptly named after the sun. These flowers follow the sun’s movement by facing the east in the morning and the west at dusk, a behavior called heliotropism. Another of their amazing trait is that they can easily grow eight to 12 feet within only six months. The Guinness world record for the tallest sunflower reached 30 feet and 1 inch, grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer in Karst, Nordrhein Westfalen, Germany.
Sunflowers are made up of 1,000-2,000 smaller flowers and can have up to 2,000 seeds which almost always follow the Fibonacci sequence. These seeds are either black or striped — the black ones used for making oil and the striped ones used for making snacks.
Get to know more of this amazing flower and find even more reasons why they should be planted in your garden.
If you choose these types of sunflowers, it is best to plant them separately from other flowers because they can grow as high as 15 feet. Because of its height and the fact that the head can be as wide as 12 inches, there’s no wonder this variety has the word “giant” added to its name.
The Autumn Beauty has petals colored red, bronze, and yellow and it grows up to five feet tall. The blooms can be as wide as five inches and the stems come in many colors and designs.
A pollen-free flower, the Bashful has four-inch petals that are salmon and pastel yellow in color. The flower grows up to three feet in height and the color combination makes it absolutely stunning.
Although considered small by sunflower standards, these bright yellow flowers with yellow-gold centers and pointed tips can grow as wide as six inches and as high as two feet high. Their cheery look makes them stand out and very popular with flower lovers.
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With a dark center and similar-looking burgundy-red petals, many people will consider this flower to be something other than a sunflower but it truly is in that category. Its dark color is exquisite and it has a high-class look that is sure to attract anyone looking at your garden. It is also a perfect contrast to the light-colored flowers you already have there.
As the name suggests, this sunflower has chocolate-burgundy petals and a very dark center. It is a mid-sized plant whose colors are very unique and eye-catching.
A striking plant, this flower has petals that come in darker colors such as burgundy and various golds and browns. It has a large center and petals that are slightly pointed at the end. It can grow up to six to nine feet tall. Between their unique colors and their height, this is one sunflower everyone will notice.
Attractive to butterflies, these sunflowers look great in containers and grow only 16 inches high. Their four-inch-wide blooms make them perfect for small spaces and just about anywhere else you want to plant a little color.
This flower produces massive amounts of gold and russet blooms and grows two to three feet in height. Just as the Chocolate Cherry and Chocolate Gold, it is a perfect flower to add to your fall arrangements because of its many dark colors.
A double-blooming sunflower with a thick, bushy look and a very small center, the blooms can be as wide as eight inches and the plant itself can grow to over six feet in height. A beautiful shade of yellow-gold, this sunflower is also called the Teddy Bear and has a dense, full look that everyone loves.
Perfect for county fairs, the Giganteus has blooms up to one foot or more in width and grows to be up to 12 feet tall. It also produces massive amounts of seeds and doesn’t need to be staked. Both you and the birds will love it.
Hopi Black Dye
The Native Americans once used this plant for both food and to dye things and it grows to approximately nine feet in height. The petals are golden yellow and the center is a dark blue-black color. It is striking and memorable.
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With whitish-yellow petals and a large chocolate center, one of its many advantages is the capability to produce massive amounts of blooms over the course of the growing season. The Italian White sunflowers can reach five to seven feet in height and they are one of the most reliable light bloomers available.
This dwarf branching sunflower is also the very first pollen-free sunflower. The plants grow to two feet in height and their blooms can be as wide as five inches and are bright-yellow in color, giving them a fantastic appeal.
The Kong Hybrid is a sturdy, 14-foot-high sunflower with large centers and bright yellow petals. The blooms can be 10 inches wide and the color mixture is just perfect.
Best known for being popular with pollinators, this type of sunflower has a very wide center, displays petals that are short and bright yellow in color, and is loved by bees.
Since these grow to just three feet tall, they are the perfect sunflower to choose if you only have a small amount of space to grow flowers. Their six-inch petals go from gold to crimson and back to gold again and their contrasting colors pack a mighty big punch. If you’d like an even smaller version, try the Sunny Smile, which is similar to Little Becka but grows only 12-15 inches tall, making it perfect to place on patios and in containers.
If you’re looking for the perfect sunflower to enter in a contest, this is it. With bright gold petals that are pointed at the tips and a height of nine to 12 feet, this sunflower is indeed commanding and their large striped seeds are just one of the many advantages of choosing this flower. It propagates in early April and is commonly found in county fairs.
One of the most attractive dark bloomers, the Moulin Rouge is dark and bold with rich burgundy-dark red petals and a dark, wide center. They grow to about four feet tall and also come in a variety called chocolate, which has dark brown petals.
Somewhat different than the traditional-looking sunflowers, this plant has dark-red to purple petals with a white or cream-colored tip, perfectly highlighted with its large, dark center. They grow to two feet in height and look great as borders or when placed in a vase.
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Another dwarf sunflower, the Pacino grows to only two feet or less and it is bright yellow in color with a beautiful yellow-copper center. It can produce several heads on each plant and it is perfect for planters or large pots.
This sunflower yields massive amounts of seeds and consists of eight-inch heads. Used mostly for feed and snacks for birds and humans, it grows up to seven feet high and produces enough seeds to make it worth growing for the seeds alone.
This is a very rare species and only grows to about six and a half feet tall even though it occasionally grows much taller. It has been around since the 1800s and has long, bright yellow petals and a small center that is usually orange or yellow-orange in color.
One of the tallest sunflowers, they can reach heights of up to 12 feet and they have bright yellow petals and a yellow center. Their stalks are very durable and their blooms can get as wide as 14 inches, making them truly noticeable.
The winner of several international flower awards, the Soraya sunflower has short, bright yellow petals and a dark center and its stems are very sturdy. They grow up to six feet in height and look beautiful in vases or containers. If you want a smaller version, try the Suntastic, which can have as many as 20 blooms on a single plant.
With rose-pink petals that have yellow-gold tips, you’ll do a double take when you first notice these sunflowers. They have wide, beautiful, dark centers and grow to over six feet tall, making them exceptional-looking in every sense.
One of the dwarf sunflowers, this type grows one to two feet in height and has striking petals that are bright yellow and pointed and a large seed-filled center that is bi-colored in red and yellow. It is also one of the first dwarf sunflowers to be domesticated.
These sunflowers have blooms that can be as wide as 40 inches and the plant usually grows 10-15 feet in height. If you plant these types of sunflowers, make sure that you leave three to four feet between them because they need this space to grow properly.
The Sunny Smile grows to 12-15 inches in height and does best in early to late summer. They are easy to grow, thanks in part to their small size, and have sturdy stems so if you have pets or children in your home, there’s no need to worry about how long they will last.
Super Snack Mix
A great plant for eating, it has some of the largest seeds around and they are easy to crack and eat, both for birds and for humans! Attractive to both butterflies and bees, the Super Snack Mix grows to over six feet tall and has petals that are loose and pointed at the tip.
These sunflowers are great if you want flowers to cut and place in vases. They are Japanese heirlooms that grow to five to six feet and have large flower heads. Their unusually large centers are dark and can come in multiple colors and the bright gold leaves are eye-catchers as well. These sunflowers are commonly found in flower shops and grocery stores, thanks in part to their beauty and their typical “sunflower” look.
Perfect for fall displays, this sunflower produces a brown petal with cream-colored tips. It has a large brown center and a striking appearance.
This sunflower is an heirloom and has blooms that grow up to 24 inches across, making them truly eye-catching and noticeable.
Top Five Reasons to Grow Sunflowers
Great for pollinators.
Sunflowers have petals that are large and very showy and they attract the attention of many pollinators, including bumblebees and honey bees. The sunflowers’ centers consist of dozens of small florets, each containing a good bit of pollen and nectar. Both of these options are a great food source for bees of all types. Due to this fact, it is important to buy organic whenever possible so that it is healthier for the bees. If the seeds have been raised organically and grown without chemicals, they are much safer so look for organic or non-GMO seeds whenever possible.
Sunflowers make beautiful cut flowers.
If you’re looking for the perfect cut flowers to place in a vase, you can’t do any better than sunflowers. Their bright colors and long stems make them eye-catching regardless of where you place the vase. When cutting the flowers, it is best to keep two things in mind. First, cut the stems early in the morning because the flower hasn’t had time to hold the heat from the sun and because you won’t want to compete with the bees that are already out looking for a food source. Second, immediately after cutting the stems, bring them inside and place them in cool water for roughly 10 minutes. This prevents them from re-sealing themselves but if they do that anyway, simply re-cut and place them in the water and you should be fine.
Lots of free sunflower seeds!
Sunflower seeds come in many different colors and the black ones are perfect for making sunflower oil due to their high oil content. Sunflower seeds in general are very healthy for you, containing ingredients such as selenium, Vitamin E, and magnesium, to name a few. You can eat them as a snack or tossed in a salad or other food, giving each food item a fresh, nutty flavor that you are certain to enjoy.
Sunflowers attract birds to your garden.
Birds get rid of insects and other pests so it is natural for you to want to attract them to your garden. Birds love sunflowers and the flowers will make them visit you on a regular basis, which means that your pests are all but guaranteed to stay away from your garden, thanks to these birds. Be sure to add a bird bath for the birds to enjoy after they have their snack and remember that chickens love sunflowers too. This means that once you are done with the flower heads, you can toss them in the chicken coop for them to have a snack to enjoy.
Sunflowers can help contaminated soil become healthier.
Sunflowers can actually draw out toxins and heavy metals from your contaminated soil so the larger your garden area is, the healthier that soil will be. Sunflowers absorb toxic materials such as zinc, chromium, lead, arsenic, and copper, to name a few, which means that your soil will be much cleaner and healthier and allow other plants nearby to grow better.
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Tags: Flowers Categories: Gardens and Landscaping
Summer is finally here and nothing says summer quite like the sunflower! With petals to match the sun’s glowing rays, it is no wonder these flowers are one of the most popular. Sunflowers make up the genus Helianthus which contains almost 70 different species. The meaning of sunflower is rooted in it’s genus Helianthus- helios meaning sun and anthos meaning flower.
Grown year round, sunflowers have large flower faces and bright petals. Relatively easy to cultivate, sunflowers love direct sunlight and flourish best in hot summer months. Because of their large roots and long stems, sunflowers are heavy feeders and grow best in nutrient-rich soil. The most common sunflower is that of the species Annuus and is known for its ordinary height and yellow color.
However, despite popular belief, not all sunflowers grow to be the same size and color. Because of the several different species that occupy the Helianthus genus, we are going to break it down into three groups for you:
- Tall Sunflowers
- Dwarf Sunflowers
- Colored Sunflowers
With the diversity of sunflower types and many different colors, we have also included a visual guide at the bottom featuring the eight most popular types of colored sunflowers for home decor!
Because of their tall and rough stems, sunflowers can grow to be several feet high. Soaring to as high as 16 feet tall, these giant beauties are always trying to get their vibrant petals closer to the sun. The sunflowers that grow the tallest usually have big single stalks with large brown centers that connect to golden yellow petals.
Birds love tall sunflowers, because of their height and ability to produce a plethora of seeds in their centers. However, the bigger the sunflower, the bigger the responsibility, so be prepared to spend a lot of time and care on your flower if you want it to reach its maximum height.
Here is a list of the most popular sunflowers of the tall variety:
- True to its name, the Skyscraper sunflower rises high above the ground and can reach heights of up to 12 feet.
- These plants are held up by durable stalks and can produce 14 inch flower petals.
- This sunflower’s height can get anywhere from 10-15 feet high and 40 inches across.
- When planting these it is important to leave three to four feet between them so they have room to grow.
- We recommend sectioning off a corner of your garden for this one because this sunflower can grow up to 15 feet!
- With the long length off the stem and a face that grows to be about one foot in width, it is no wonder they call this sunflower the American Giant.
- This sunflower’s height ranges from 9 to 12 feet high and is used in a lot of county fairs and flower shows because of its size and effortless ability to grow.
- The Russian Mammoth lives best in Mediterranean climate and can propagate as early as April.
- This sunflower is one of the rarest species in America and is named after Lewis David von Schweintz a botanist who discovered the species in the early 1800s.
- It’s average height is about 6.5 feet, but has been seen to grow up to 16 feet tall!
Most people like to think of sunflowers as tall beams not really suited for gardens. However, because of increased hybridizing of these plant types, there are now a number of sunflowers that grow to heights of only three feet or smaller! Scientifically known as dwarf sunflowers, these plants love to grow in bunches and occupy small spaces such as gardens and planters.
Dwarf sunflowers have the same low maintenance care requirements as their taller family members and grow best when in full sunlight. Because of their smaller stalks, seeds only need to be placed three to six inches away.
Here is a list of the most popular sunflowers of the dwarf variety:
- One of the very first dwarf sunflowers to ever be domesticated, this flower grows anywhere between one to two feet tall.
- Reaching about knee high with bicolor red and yellow petals, this dwarf sunflower is truly one of a kind.
- The average height of this pollenless sunflower is around one to two feet tall and can also be classified as a bi-colored sunflower because of it’s bright orange and red petals.
- The Little Becka looks great in gardens when wanting to add a little splash of color.
- The Pacino sunflower, also known as the “dwarf pacino gold,” usually grows to be about 12 to 16 inches with a maximum height of two feet.
- These sunflowers produce multiple heads on each plant and look great in large pots or planters.
- Only getting to be about 20 inches tall, what these sunflowers don’t have in height they makeup for in bold golden petals.
- The Suntastic Yellow likes to grow in packs of about five or eight and are perfect for gardens or bouquets.
- Ranging from 12 to 15 inches tall, these miniature sunflowers bloom best in early to late summer.
- The Sunny Smile’s small size makes them extremely easy to grow, and their sturdy stalks are perfect when gardening with children or pets.
Just when you thought sunflowers couldn’t get anymore beautiful, they now come in a assortment of colors thanks to hybridizing. You can now mix and match your favorite types and add splashes of color to your garden, patio or dining room table.
From creamy custard to deep red wine, here is a list of the most popular sunflowers of the colored variety:
- The Terracotta is different from other colored sunflowers because instead of orange and red hues, it produces a more brown color on its petals.
- The brown clay color it possesses makes it ideal for fall displays.
- This flower is known for its dark earthy hues that can range between browns, reds and golds.
- The Earthwalker can grow anywhere between six to nine feet tall and is perfect for making a statement in the garden.
- This striking flower has gorgeous red-to-purple hues that transform to a subtle yellow on the tips.
- They grow to be about two feet tall and look great in flower beds and borders.
- Without knowing this type of sunflower beforehand, one might not even recognize it.
- Arguably one of the darkest sunflowers in the species Helianthus, the deep red wine petals of the Chianti make it perfect for a dramatic contrast in any garden.
- No other sunflower quite matches the consistent, unique color the the Moulin Rouge.
- Like its exotic name, this sunflower develops an extravagance of burgundy red petals that look fantastic in bouquets.
8 Most Popular Colored Sunflowers
Because there are so many different types of colored sunflowers, they are easy to work into home decor. To help you choose which sunflowers work best for your home decor, here is a visual guide to the eight most popular colored sunflowers.
sunflowerselections.com | northcreeknurseries.com | almanac.com | homeguides.sfgate.com | theflowerexpert.com
Common Sunflower Cultivars – Different Kinds Of Sunflowers For The Garden
Whether growing sunflowers as a means to attract pollinators or simply to add some vibrant color to the summer vegetable garden, there is no denying that these plants are a long-time favorite of many gardeners. Coming in a wide range of sizes and in subtle shades of yellow and reds, it is sometimes difficult to choose which varieties to plant. Luckily for growers, there are open pollinated and hybrid cultivars of sunflowers that will fit perfectly into most landscapes.
Types of Sunflower Plants
Different varieties of sunflowers can vary greatly in size and color. In general, however, they can easily be divided into several different kinds of sunflowers. Here are just a few types of sunflower plants:
As the name would imply, these sunflower varieties are capable of reaching amazing heights, some as tall as 16 feet (4.8 m.)! Giant varieties of sunflower are sure to make a statement when grown in the home garden, as they often grow taller than nearby fences (and sometimes houses). Though beautiful, these large plants will sometimes require staking in regions prone to high winds and strong summer storms.
Some popular giant sunflower cultivars include:
- ‘American Giant’
- ‘Russian Mammoth’
Medium sunflowers are those which grow tall; however, their height is nowhere near comparable to that of the giant sunflower cultivars. Medium sized sunflower varieties can generally be divided into single stem and branching types. While single stems will produce only one flower per plant, branching varieties offer growers more flowers and longer bloom times. Branching varieties offer more color and visual impact for growers who garden in small spaces.
Medium varieties of sunflower to try are:
- ‘Italian White’
- ‘Moulin Rouge’
- ‘Lemon Queen’
Dwarf sunflower varieties are a great choice for gardeners with little space. Often reaching only a few feet in height, many dwarf sunflower cultivars can also be planted in containers or in flower borders. The compact size of dwarf sunflowers allows for a bright pop of color without interfering with vertical growing space.
Here are some dwarf sunflower varieties:
- ‘Little Becka’
- ‘Sunny Smile’
- ‘Teddy Bear’
Pollenless sunflowers are a unique option. These pollen-free varieties of sunflower are most commonly grown by those wishing to use their sunflowers in cut flower arrangements. This makes them an exceptionally good choice for growers who want to sell bouquets at farmers’ markets. These sunflower cultivars are extremely uniform and quick to bloom.
Pollenless Varieties to grow may include:
- ‘Pro Cut Gold’
- ‘Strawberry Blonde’
Think about a sunflower. Is it tall? With one large brightly, petaled yellow bloom bobbing about in the summer’s breeze? A larger than life flower that dominates the garden – that your eyes are drawn to? That’s what I think of too.
But if I were to tell you there are red, purple orange and pink sunflowers too. Not just tall, but bushy, small, multi-headed and perennials. Would that interest you.
If your answer is yes, then I’d like to share with you some of my favorite sunflowers, and the reasons why I’ve enjoyed growing them over the years. Hopefully, I’ll be able to give you some ideas of the sunflowers best for your needs.
You don’t need a garden to grow sunflowers. There are varieties that are happy in containers.
Below is my guide from the giant tall varieties, we all love to grow, and many more that will make you want to sow nothing but sunflowers, and one that will take your breath away.
Types of Sunflowers. There are more than 70 varieties of sunflower seeds and plants. Annuals, perennials, tall ones, red, orange, purple and dwarf. I’ve put together for you the best guide and description of all the sunflower seeds to plant and enjoy in your garden, in pots on your balcony, or in a field. And a height chart.
a selection of my sunflower seeds
Table of Contents
Before choosing the variety of sunflowers you’d like to grow, I hope to debaffle a few common gardening terms. Here’s a quick guide to what you might find on your seed packets and plant labels and what they basically mean. Such as Annual, Hardy Annual, Perennial, Biennial, F1 and such like.
Please don’t be put off if this sounds too sciency. There are no hard and fast rule or laws to growing sunflowers. Whether you have one plant pot or a field, If there are sunflowers you like the look of, just have a go at growing them. And enjoy.
Annual Plant (A)
Annual plants have one season of growth then die off. Their whole life cycle starts with a seed and ends by producing seeds to be harvested. After harvesting the plant dies. Annual plants have this one purpose in mind, to grow big and strong as possible so it can produce a big healthy yield of seeds in one season.
Hardy Annuals (HA)
Hardy annual is an annual plant that can withstand a touch of frost. If my winter has been mild, some of my hardy plants will rest and come back the following year. They will bloom and give another lovely display for the next season, before eventually dying off.
Half Hardy Annual (HHA)
Half Hardy Annuals are seeds that are sensitive to the cold. They need to be sown in pots in a protected place, such as a greenhouse. After all fear of frost and low temperatures have gone, then my young plants can be planted outside at the beginning of summer. They will last until the first frosts of autumn.
Perennial means to grow back every year. At the end of their season, my perennial sunflowers need pruning care to get the full potential for their following years’ growth. If you like the idea of having sunflowers that come back every year I’ve written about perennial sunflower care here
Half Hardy Perennials (HHP)
Half Hardy Perennials are plants that given some protection from frost and harsh winter weather can live for two or more years. Give them Free draining soil, so the plant isn’t sitting in a water log throughout winter helps to prolong its life too.
Biennial means a plant can take two years (hence Bi) to grow to its full potential. The first year will mostly be stem and leaf growth. Then the plant will rest through the winter. The second year the plant will flower and produce seeds then die to leave their scattered seeds to sprout for the following year and the plant life cycle begins again.
F1 Seeds (F1)
F1 Seeds are basically a form of selective breeding. Two parent plants are chosen for their special qualities, maybe their height and color. They are then cross pollinated to produce a unique seed to grow for one season only. F1 is an abbreviation of Filial 1 which in Latin means First Children or first generation.
Dwarf Sunflowers are smaller in plant size, and flower sizes vary from small to medium. Wonderful for ground cover, a great variety if you only have pots to place on patios or balconies. See the best varieties of dwarf sunflowers below. Dwarf varieties have lower levels of the growth hormone called axin and this is why they’re smaller. That’s not to say you can’t grow a giant sunflower in a pot, it may be slightly restricted, but it’s still doable.
I could quite happily fill my garden with sunflowers of all varieties and nothing else.
And Although I’m writing about sunflower varieties here, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that after deciding what sunflowers you’d like to grow there are a variety of vegetables, salads, herbs and other flowers that happily grow alongside them. And a few plants that do not grow well with sunflowers. I’ve written all about companion planting with sunflowers. I hope it helps.
Generally, sunflowers are quite easy to grow. That’s why they’re a big hit with most gardeners, novice gardeners, and children alike.
But depending on your climate, and what watering and growing conditions you have available, your final results could vary from what’s on the seed packet. My sunflowers are a law unto themselves sometimes and surprise me every year with hits and misses.
Pick the seeds for your needs,
Have a go and sow and sow,
See what happens as they grow,
And share all your results below.
Quick reference key chart of terms used below…
(A) = Annual
(HA) = Hardy Annual
(H) = Hardy
(HH) =Half Hardy
(B) = Biennial
(P) = Perennial
When you find the one that you like, click on the name, and it’ll take you to the seeds on Amazon, in case you can’t find them locally. It will open in a separate window, so you won’t lose the list either!
So, here we go. Here are my Favorite Sunflower seeds to plant and that I’ve grown. The chart for each, followed by information for each one…
The below chart illustrates the color and size of the sunflower bloom, for the most popular colored sunflower varieties, alongside the expected height of the sunflower if the most optimum growing conditions are met. I hope this illustration helps. You can also find these illustrated height graphs in my sunflower resource section for downloading.
colored sunflower height illustrated guide chart
Evening Sun sunflower (A)
|Evening Sun (A)||Ht 6ft (1.8m)||Bloom Size||Suitable for|
|Reds, bronze, yellow||One stem, multi blooms||8” (20cm)||bedding||pots||cutting|
These burgundy red, Bright yellow, bronzed, crimson and rusty colored blooms are a gorgeous sunflower to behold. I found them easy to grow, they can reach 7 feet or taller with multiple blooms on each stem. Seeds can be sown in the ground in their growing site or in large pots for the patio or balcony. The flower heads grew large and produced lots of flowers that made lovely bouquets for my friends and neighbors. Ok, so I had to use a step to pick some of the blooms and left the rest for nature. Here’s the seeds on Amazon if you can’t find them locally.
Red Sun (A)
|Red Sun||Ht 6ft (1.8m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Dark Red||Single Stem, Multi Blooms||4” (10cm)||Bedding||Pots||Cutting|
Another easy to grow sunflower that can grow several feet tall. This makes it a beautiful sunflower for placing on your back borders. The big, dark red flowers sit on top of sturdy stems. The abundant stately blooms are ideal for cutting and displaying in a vase. They have a real wow factor. They flower throughout the summer and when they do go to seed the birds and wildlife will love you for them. If you, like me, would like these stunning flowers for your garden and in a vase, please find the seeds here on Amazon.
Ruby Sunset (A)
|Ruby Red (A)||Ht 3-5ft (1-1.5m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Red, Orange Hues||One stem, multi blooms||8” (20cm)||bedding||Pots||Cutting|
I found these sunflowers to be a bit of a beautiful puzzle. Why you might ask? Well. The 5 to 15 blooms on each stem produce a different color flower. Brown centers with dark red, orange through to yellow petals. They are easy to grow and reach 5 feet tall making them ideal for middle or back borders. The flowers are like large red daisies and look fantastic in cut arrangements. So I’m not against having these beautiful puzzles on my site shesaidsunflower.com. And the vibrant color makes them very attractive to butterflies. I love using the petals and seeds in my cakes and salads. Find this sunflowers seeds, with its many uses, on Amazon here.
Velvet Queen (HA)
|Velvet Queen (HA)||Ht 6ft (1.8m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Claret, Coppery, Bronze||Multi Stems and Blooms||5” (12cm)||Bedding||Pots||Cutting|
Dark claret to red and coppery bronze petals with a chocolate, almost black colored center. These sunflowers looked lovely growing in a large clump, as a backdrop and borders to my other plants. They can grow to 6 feet tall and have multi flower heads on each stem. Great for cutting and making a dramatic statement, all by themselves in a large vase. If you’d like to have a go at growing these dramatic looking sunflowers then I’m pleased to say I’ve found the seeds here on Amazon
Black Magic F1 (A)
|Black Magic F1 (A)||Ht 4ft (1.2m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Dark Maroon||Multi Stem and blooms||8” (20cm)||Bedding||Pots||Cutting|
Black magic sunflowers grow Nearly 4 feet in height and have one of the largest dark maroon multi-headed sunflower blooms there is. The centers are almost black. They are brilliant for borders and butterflies and bees love them. they are stunning as cut flowers. Cut them just before they are fully opened. I love the beautiful velvety rich colored petals of these sunflowers. And I’ve found them here for you on Amazon.
Mexican Sunflower Bright Orange (A)
Growing to 5 feet tall with long stalk-like stems and multi orange small like daisy heads. These sunflowers are sometimes mistaken for dahlias. Their vibrant orange petals and bright yellow centers are a magnet to pollinators and hummingbirds. Yes, hummingbirds love the sweet nectar that the Mexican sunflower produces, it’s such a treasured jewel to have in any garden. It adds height to any flower border and can be easily companioned with vegetables and salads too.
Mexican Sunflower Bright Red (A)
|Mexican Sunflower (A)||Ht 3-5ft (1-1.5m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Bright Red||Multi Stems and Blooms||2,3” (5,8cm)||Bedding||Pots||Cutting|
This bright red variety of the Mexican Sunflower grows up to 5 feet tall and also have multi stalklike stems with a glorious red daisy-like flower atop each branch. The nectar is a treat for butterflies, especially the monarch. And a focal point for a variety of other pollinators too. This stunning red variety of the Mexican sunflower attracts just as much attention in my garden as my traditional orange petaled ones. They are easy to grow and are bloom throughout the summer and early autumn until the first frosts. I found a very good quality of these seeds here on Amazon
Italian White (A)
|Italian White (A)||Ht 5ft (1.5m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Creamy White||Multi Stems and Blooms||4” (10cm)||Bedding||Pots||Cutting|
Creamy white petals with a dark nut brown center, a pale yellow circle divides the center disc from the petals. This delicate sunflower grows up to 5 feet tall and has multi stems and many blooms flowering throughout the summer. This is great for a perpetual supply of delightful cut sunflowers for displaying. I love to mix them up with other colors of sunflowers too, makes for a nice talking point.
Pink Landum Adorable Pink (A)
|Pink Adorable (A)||Ht 3-5ft (1-1.5m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Pink||One Stem and Bloom||4,6” (10,15cm)||Bedding||Pots||Cutting|
I managed to grow these enchanting pink sunflowers for a friends wedding bouquet. They were breathtaking. I’ve Never been so nervous about keeping a plant safe and sound. Depending on your soil type and climate you might have a variant on the color shown here, but please have a go at growing them, even if it’s just a challenge to yourself. You’ll find the seeds here on Amazon, and I’d love to hear what sort of results you get in the comments below. Looking forward to hearing from you about this wonder of nature.
Pale Purple Berkheya (HP)
|Berkheya Purpurea (A)||Ht. 1ft (60cm)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Pale Purple||Multi Stems and Blooms||4” (10cm)||Bedding||Pots||Cutting|
These dwarf pale purple sunflowers are in a league of their own. They grow only 12 inches tall and are great for a neat ground covering plants in big clusters. I love these as a bushy border plant too. Multiple gentle, pale soft violet blooms on thin, but sturdy stems. Their leaves are silvery grey, very thistle like and spikey. They flower in the late summer and are always a treat for me when their blooms start popping open.
Ms Mars Purple (A)
|Ms. Mars (A)||Ht. 1-2ft (30-60cm)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Purple, Pink Hues||Multi Blooms one Stem||4” (10cm)||Bedding||Pots||Cutting|
A fetching dwarf sunflower growing up to 2 feet tall. The leaves are dark green. The buds are dark purple and the flowers are dark red to purple hues and pale pinkish tipped petals. Wow, there is so much going on with having these in my garden. They are multi-headed and great for cutting. The bees and butterflies love them and they grow vigorously throughout the summer and early autumn.if you struggle to Find these seeds at your local garden supplier they’re here on Amazon for you
Traditional Tall Sunflowers
The below chart illustrates the size of the sunflower bloom for the popular tall (giant) sunflower varieties, alongside the expected height of the sunflower if the best growing conditions are met. I hope this illustration helps. You can also find these illustrated height graphs in my sunflower resource section for downloading.
tall (giant) sunflower height illustrated guide chart
|Giraffe (A)||Ht 17ft (5.2m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow||Single Stem and Bloom||17” (44cm)||Bedding||Very large pots|
This could be the tallest breed sunflower that was specially created for the climate in the UK. But happily, it’s available all over the world and with it being grown to the colossal size it does in the UK means there’s a good chance that it will be successful anywhere. Again a typical single headed sunflower, yellow petals, and dark brown center disc. The flower heads are 17 inches (44cm) across and give many seeds in return to plant for the following year, but if not these seeds are readily available here on Amazon
Pikes Peak (A)
|Pikes Peak (A)||Ht 15ft (4.5m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|yellow||Single Stem and Bloom||15” (38cm)||Bedding||Very Large Pots|
This single headed sunflower doesn’t grow as tall as the giraffe, but it’s still tall and can grow up to 15 feet. They have long yellow petals and a mustard yellow center. The blooms are the size of dinner plates. The stems are thicker and stronger than the Giraffe. The seed production is massive and the actual seeds are huge, almost an inch long. great for culinary uses. Collect the seeds to plant the following year, use them in cooking and Feed the wildlife. I found There’s enough to do it all. And with all the uses the seeds have you might need some more to grow for next year find a link here to replenish your stock from Amazon.
American Giant F1 (A)
|American Giant F1 (A)||Ht 14ft (4.2m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow||Single Stem, Bloom||12” (30cm)||Bedding||V Large Pots|
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this whopper of a giant sunflower. They can grow above 14 feet tall and have such strong stems that I didn’t need to support them. The single flower is huge. Growing up to 1 ft wide, with bright yellow petals and a nut brown center. They grow fast and are an iconic sunflower. Great to get the kids involved in gardening, to see who can grow the tallest one. And my neighbors couldn’t help but stop, stare and comment on the size of these giants.
King Kong F1 (HA)
|King Kong F1 (HA)||Ht 14ft (4.2m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow||Multi Stems & Blooms||6” (15cm)||Bedding||V Large Pots||Cut|
Tall multi-branching and a mass of blooms on every plant. The flowers are medium sized and lovely for cutting. Vibrant yellow petals and a dark brown disc, these are ideal for bouquets and wedding table displays. The actual plant grows up to 15 feet tall with all the gorgeous blooms bouncing about on top of the plant. A special sight to see in anyone’s garden.
|Titan (HA)||Ht 10ft (3m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow||Single Stem and Bloom||24” (60cm)||Bedding||V Large Pots|
These single headed sunflowers have one of the biggest flowers that yield an abundance of seeds that are huge. The bloom can grow to a colossal 24 inches in diameter. Thick sunshine yellow petals with a rusty colored center disc that can last for approximately 2 weeks in full bloom. Quick growing plants that can reach up to 10 feet tall. The seeds store well to sow the following year. Bees and butterflies love it. The seeds I got on Amazon, linked here, gave me fantastic blooms.
Russian Giant (HA)
|Russian Giant (HA)||Ht 6ft (1.8m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow, pale orange disc||One stem and bloom||12” (30cm)||beds||pots|
Another sunflower that belongs to this giant list of sunflowers, but like all the others it has its own uniqueness. These sunflowers can grow up to 10 feet tall and are probably that iconic sunflower look that we all think of when we imagine them. Single big yellow flowers 12 inches in diameter, pale orange disc turning brown as it matures. Dense green foliage that will create a fantastic backdrop or yearly summer tall border.
Giant Single (A)
|Giant Single||Ht 6ft (1.6m)||Bloom Size||Suitable for|
|Yellow||One Stem and Bloom||8” (20cm)||Bedding||V Large Pots||Cutting|
Fast growing, single-headed traditional sunflower. Beautiful blooms that have long thick yellow petals and a dark brown disc. Very easy to nurture and can grow 6 feet tall. They last a few weeks in full bloom and I’ve cut these single large blooms (just as they’re opening) for a striking single centerpiece on my table.
Maximilian Prairie (P)
|Maximilian (HP)||Ht 5-8ft (1.5-2.5m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow||Multi Stems & blooms||5 “ (13cm)||bedding||Big Pots||Cutting|
If you have or would like to have, a wild part of your garden, then you’ve come to the right place. Depending on your growing conditions These perennial sunflowers can grow from 3 to 10 feet tall every year. Each stalk has from 15 to 19 yellow petaled with orange centered discs. The flowers are up to 5 inches across. These sunflowers are native to south america and can be found growing wild in the tall grass of the prairie. Maximilian attracts, among others, monarch butterflies and a variety of bees. They are often grown for livestock to munch on and have a large yield of seeds for wildlife to enjoy too. If you pinch off the growing tip, at the height you desire, you should get a neater and smaller plant with more flowers.
|Alchemy (HA)||Ht 5ft (1.5m)||Bloom size||Suitable For|
|Yellow||Multi Stems & blooms||6” (15cm)||Bedding||V Large Pots||Cutting|
A mass of bright yellow blooms on a branching bush of silver foliage. These lovely sunflowers can be cut for display or left to fill a middle to back border for buzzy bees and beautiful butterflies to dance on all day, there’s plenty of medium sized blooms to satisfy them all. They are half hardy so I sow the seeds outdoors at the end of spring in the part of the garden I want them to grow.
|Hallo (HA)||Ht 4ft (1.5m)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow||Multi Stems and Blooms||8” (20cm)||Bedding||Large Pots||Cutting|
Branching Multi-headed Large blooms with Layers of striking yellow petals and velvety brown centers. rich green, large leaf foliage. Such an all-rounder. Suitable for attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Suitable for growing in pots, borders and for cutting. If I’ve got a large part of my garden I can give to these sunflowers or just a few pots to fill I will. They look fantastic. The flowers are quite long lasting too. They give quite an abundance of seeds at harvest time, which my visiting wildlife love. These seeds are now readily available here.
Dwarf Sunflower Varieties
The below chart illustrates the size of the sunflower bloom for the popular yellow dwarf sunflower varieties, alongside the expected height of the sunflower if optimum growing conditions are met. I hope this illustration helps. You can also find these illustrated height charts and other illustrations in my sunflower resource section for downloading.
dwarf sunflower height illustrated guide chart
|Sunbright||Ht 3-5ft (1-1.5m)||Bloom Size||Suitable for|
|Yellow||One Stem & Bloom||4-6” (10-15cm)||Bedding||V Large Pots||Cutting|
Single Golden yellow petaled bloom, dark brown center discs and pollen free. I like to cut and gather these sunflowers as bouquet gifts for my friends who have trouble with pollen allergies. They are quick growing and have flowers up to 4 to 6 inches in size. If you’re looking for the iconic sunflower, but don’t want the height, this is the one for you. I found this to be everything a giant sunflower is but smaller and perfectly formed. I originally found the seeds here on amazon.
I have these vibrantly colored sunflowers in pots and at the front of my flower borders. The daisy-like blooms flower throughout the summer. The vivid yellow-tipped petals go orange towards the rusty red colored centered disc. I have cut some of these small flowers for cute table arrangements, and by doing this more blooms will appear. With care and attention at the end of its growing season, the perennial gaillardia comes back for me the following year. I’ve written all about how to care for this cute and dazzling sunflower here.
Mezzulah F1 (HA)
|Mezzulah F1 (HA)||Ht 3ft (90cm)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow, Orange Hues||Single Stem and Bloom||8” (20cm)||bedding||Pots||Cutting|
This sunflower is pollen free. Singled headed bloom on top of a sturdy stem. Growing to a magnificent 3ft small. The flower is medium to large, yellowed petaled with striking orange inner petals going into a deep brown center disc. As its a semi-dwarf it can be grown in pots or in the middle of a border. Also, another good cutting flower that I like to gift. You can try these here on Amazon
Teddy Bear (HA)
|Teddy Bear (HA)||Ht 2ft (60cm)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|yellow-Orange||Multi stems & Blooms||4-5” (10-12cm)||Bedding||Pots||Cutting|
Bright yellow-orange cuddly, fluffy looking 4-5 inch multi-headed blooms on 1 to 2 feet stem. They are unusual and don’t look like other sunflowers in my garden. There are so many layers of petals that create a pom-pom of petals. I love them in the middle of my borders. The 4-5 inch multi-heads sit upon sturdy stems. ideal for cutting, in large pots and the petals can also be used to garnish salads. Hopefully, these fluffy sunflowers are readily available near you, but if not, here’s a to Amazon for you.
Little Dorrit F1 (HA)
|Little Dorrit F1 (HA)||Ht 2ft (60cm)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow||Multi stems & Blooms||4” (10cm)||Bedding||Pots||Cutting|
These are cute, easy to grow, multi-headed sunflowers that can grow up to 2 feet tall. The long yellow petals surround a large dark brown disc that all the pollinators love to share. When harvest time comes, the large yield of small-sized seeds feeds birds and wildlife for weeks after the plant has finished its summer blooming. Here’s an Amazon to this little darling of a sunflower.
Pacino Gold (A)
|Pacino Gold (A)||Ht 2ft (60cm)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow||One Stem, Multi-Blooms||5” (12cm)||Bedding Pots Cutting|
Multi-branching, multi-headed attractive yellow blooms that are 5 inches wide with a dark brown center disc that covers each growing stem. These sunflowers were actually bred for pots and containers, but they look gorgeous in the middle of my plant borders. The flowers keep on coming throughout the summer and last till autumn. If you only have pots or containers to fill this could be the sunflower for you. Traditional looking and long lasting. And here they are on Amazon.
|Sunspot (A)||Ht 2ft (60cm)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow, Gold||One Stem and Bloom||10” (24cm)||Bedding Pots Cutting|
Yellow-gold petaled beauties that are small plants and can get as tall as only 2 feet, with a whopping bloom that can grow up to 10 inches in diameter. Grow these wonders from spring, and 2 or 3 weeks apart to get blooms continuing throughout the summer. I can’t get over how big the blooms to plant ratio is. They are great in pots too. I get these locally, if you can’t they’re here on Amazon.
|Waooh (A)||Ht 3ft (90cm)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Yellow||Multi Stems and Blooms||4” (20cm)||Bedding Pots Cutting|
The name says it all. Waooh! Masses of yellow blooms for weeks and weeks, with chocolate brown discs on top of very bushy healthy stems. Growing 2 feet tall in the middle of my borders, they were like fireworks throughout the summer months popping out pollen free 4-inch bloom after bloom. I use these in cut arrangements for when pollen allergy friends come to stay.
For your end of summer wedding, get everyone you know to grow them for you. There’ll be masses of iconic sunflower blooms for arrangements, bouquets, and settings. How glorious will that be? If you have any trouble finding them just click here to get them from Amazon
Little Leo (HA)
|Little Leo (HA)||Ht 18” (50cm)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Lemon, Yellow||Multi Stems and Blooms||5” (12cm)||Bedding Pots Cutting|
Growing to just 18 inches tall will lemon, yellow daisy like flowers. The multi-branching stems give bloom after bloom. I love this little button of a sunflower. It’s dainty and loves growing in pots and at the front of my borders. I cut them to have a little display lined up on my window sills. Easily available at your garden store or if you can’t find them locally, they’re here on Amazon.
|Suntastic Yellow F1 (A)||Ht 1ft (30cm)||Bloom Size||Suitable For|
|Bright Yellow||Multi Stems and Blooms||6” (15cm)||Bedding Pots Cutting|
Easy to grow outside in pots, in there growing sites at the front of boarders and even window boxes in springtime. The blooms grow in flourishes of up to 20 flowers per 1 foot high small plant. The pollen free big blooms are 5-6 inches wide. Bright yellow petals surrounding a dark brown, almost black center disc. Very dramatic. They grow quickly and start flowering from early summer and onward. Great for cut arrangements too. These are possibly one of the smallest sunflower plants available. Very cute. If you they’re not in shops near you, use this to Amazon.
My Final Thoughts
Every year I try and grow different varieties and types of sunflowers. It’s both a pleasure and challenge to see what my results will be.
But most of all it really is all about the immense pleasure. I get to spend time amongst one of the most symbolic and iconic flowers on earth, in all its many glorious forms. Now that’s what I call my little bit of paradise.
I hope I’ve given you a good cross section of some of the many sunflower varieties and types that I love to grow, I’ll keep adding to this list. And I’m always on the lookout for new types and varieties of sunflowers, so I’ll keep you updated on those as well.
I loved working on the sunflower height charts too, and hope they’ve given you a visual representation of how and where you can enjoy growing your sunflowers for any location, situation or occasion.
If you’ve had a sunflower that’s given you great pleasure in growing, I’d love to hear from you so I can try them for myself. And if you’ve grown any that have been quirky or interesting I’d love to know about those too. Looking forward to your findings and comments below. Thank you.
Can You Save Seeds from F1 Hybrid? Collecting and growing seeds from an F1 plant might not give you the same flower you had in its first year. This is because they have been hand pollinated to select a special feature from two different sunflowers. This is selective breeding to create a unique plant for one season only.
From my own curiosity, I’ve collected and grown seeds from F1 sunflowers with some surprising results. My sunflowers were cross-pollinated with other sunflowers and produced a variation of the F1 sunflower.
Everyone will get different results, so If you decide to collect and grow seeds from your F1 sunflower I’d love to know what sort of results you get too in the comments below. Thank you.
Main Sunflower Types for your Garden
Grown for their striking and colorful flowers, Helianthus (Sunflowers) can be annuals or perennials, with coarse simple leaves and large, showy daisy blossoms. Native primarily to North and South America, they belong to the aster family (Asteraceae) and count up to 70 species. Some species are cultivated as ornamentals for their spectacular flower heads and their edible seeds. Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke) is cultivated for its edible tubers, rich of an artichoke-like taste.
Annual Sunflowers – Helianthus annuus (Common Sunflower)
- Cherished for their beauty, Common Sunflowers are fast-growing annuals with broad, oval to heart-shaped, roughly hairy leaves. Blooming from summer to fall, they produce brilliant flowers, up to 12 in. across (30 cm), with yellow, red, orange, creamy-white or bicolor petals surrounding a dark chocolate central disk. Borne on stiff upright stalks, the flower heads tend to follow the sun from morning to night.
- These showstoppers make outstanding cut flowers and are valuable additions to beds and borders.
- Extensive hybridizing has resulted in a great number of cultivars providing a wide range of colors, flower shapes (short or long rays, frilled or double), and sizes (dwarf to giant). Some are huge and grow on towering 8-16 ft. stalks (240-480 cm), while others top off at a modest 12 in. (30 cm)
Tall Annual Sunflowers – Over 8 ft. (240 cm)
‘Mammoth Grey Stripe’
Dwarf Annual Sunflowers – Less than 3 ft. (90 cm)
Colorful Annual Sunflowers
- Unlike annual varieties, perennial sunflowers return to the garden year after year. Their bright yellow flowers tend to be smaller than those of the annual sunflowers.
- They bloom for a period of 8-12 weeks with some starting as early as mid-summer and others finishing as late as mid fall – adding cheerful color and interest in the garden at a time when most other plants have finished flowering.
Tall Perennial Sunflowers – Over 6 ft. (180 cm)
Dwarf Perennial Sunflowers – Less than 4 ft. (120 cm)
Helianthus salicifolius ‘Low Down’
- Loved by the artist Van Gogh and generations of children, Sunflowers are fun, easy to grow, and require little care.
- Sunflowers prefer full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day) and are not fussy about soils as long as they are well-drained.
- Most Sunflowers are heat and drought tolerant once established. A sheltered location is preferred, as the wind may catch the heavy heads.
- Sunflowers are of outstanding value to wildlife. Attractive to bees, their central disk gives way to sunflower seeds that provide food for birds in fall and winter.
- Add them to your cutting garden and use them to create extravagant and glamorous bouquets. Select pollen-free varieties which will not shed on tabletops, such as Vincent’s Choice, Firecracker or Strawberry Blonde.
Picture a common sunflower in your mind — what do you see?
Many people may describe sunflowers as tall, yellow and bright, but this classic sunflower imagery simply doesn’t do the plant justice. Sunflowers are dynamic because they grow in various shapes, sizes and colors.
Use the following 16 sunflower facts to inspire the way you view sunflowers. Learn about the sunflower plant itself and some health benefits below. Let’s start with the basics: colors.
1. Not All Sunflowers Are Yellow
A universal fact most people know is sunflowers are yellow. However, a sunflower’s pigment doesn’t stop there. Sunflowers can even be red and purple!
Some examples of yellow sunflowers include American Giant, Zohar and Elegance. These sunflower types are vibrant and sure to make you smile. The American Giant sunflower can grow up to 14 feet tall, so “giant” may be an understatement. This species is one of the tallest sunflowers and their faces can reach 12 inches wide.
As the nursery rhyme taught us, roses are red. In addition to roses, many types of flowers are red, including some sunflowers. Red sunflowers come in different varieties. Some of them have similar daisy-like heads which are often born of the common yellow sunflowers. Additionally, red sunflowers are an excellent way to add a pop of color in a bouquet.
A common “purple sunflower” is the Chianti Hybrid. A Chianti Hybrid’s petals have deep, dark reds which some classify as purple. This sunflower plant can grow to five feet and has no pollen, making it good for cutting. These sunflowers can help balance color in mixed bouquets.
2. Vincent Van Gogh Wasn’t the Only Sunflower Painter
Whether you’ve taken an art class or not, odds are you’re familiar with name Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh is remembered for his sunflower paintings and changing the way people viewed a flower’s beauty. Some artists who were influenced by him include Diego Rivera, Alfred Gockel and Paul Gauguin.
Diego Rivera incorporated sunflowers in a handful of his paintings. One example is “Muchacha Con Girasoles.” This painting portrays a girl organizing a vase with sunflowers. Both Van Gogh and Diego Rivera commonly portrayed peasant life and flower imagery in their pieces.
Alfred Gockel’s style includes the use of primary colors with deep accents. One of Gockel’s paintings is titled “Giant Sunflower.” By using primary colors, Gockel made his sunflower come alive. Many people find this work unique.
Paul Gaugin introduced inception with his art “Vincent van Gogh Painting Sunflowers.” The piece itself is fictional, since Gaugin wasn’t there when van Gogh was painting his famous sunflower painting. Gaugin enjoyed working from his imagination to inspire this painting.
3. Sunflowers Are Connected to Apollo
Sunflowers have numerous meanings and symbols. Some date back to Greek mythology with the story of Clytie and Apollo, god of the sun. Apollo, already in love with Clytie, one day was struck by the beauty of a king’s princess named Leucothoe. Lecucothe’s father did not allow her to see Apollo, but this didn’t stop Apollo from seeing her.
One night Clytie discovered Apollo and Leucothoe together and told Lecuothe’s father out of jealousy. As a result, Leucothoe was buried alive at her father’s order. Apollo, out of grief, turned Clytie into a sunflower to avoid having to look at her again. Talk about drama!
4. Sunflowers Can Range in Height
Sunflowers are regularly classified into two categories: tall and dwarf. Despite popular belief that sunflower plants are giants, some don’t get taller than two feet.
Tall sunflowers are generally yellow and durable. Most of these sunflowers reach 12 to 16 feet tall and even higher in special circumstances. Types of tall sunflowers include Skyscraper, Sunforest Mix and Russian Mammoth. Most of these sunflowers are enjoyed by birds for their height and abundance of seeds. This makes tall sunflowers attractive for people who enjoy bird watching.
Dwarf sunflowers commonly grow in clusters and immerse themselves in small gardens and pots. These sunflowers are classified as dwarfs because they tend to not grow taller than 3 feet. Dwarf sunflower types include Little Becka, Suntastic Yellow and Pacino.
A commonality between dwarf and tall sunflowers is they both grow best in full sunlight.
5. Young Sunflowers Track the Sun
A fun sunflower fact is young sunflowers track the sun, also referred to as heliotropism. In a study by ScienceMag, scientists reveal sunflowers have circadian rhythms, which promote this behavior. A young sunflower’s face follows the sun from sunrise to sunset every day and repeats the cycle until maturity.
6. Mature Sunflowers Face East
As sunflowers reach maturity, their internal clocks start slowing down until they finish the heliotropism behavior completely. Don’t worry, this process does not harm sunflowers. A ScienceMag study reveals mature sunflowers face East for a couple different reasons:
- Sunflowers can attract up to five times more pollinators because they warm up faster than westward facing plants.
- Sunflowers are more productively warmed when Eastward facing.
7. Sunflower Oil Has an Anti-Inflammatory Effect
The sunflower plant offers additional benefits besides beauty. Sunflower oil is suggested to possess anti-inflammatory properties. It contains linoleic acid which can convert to arachidonic acid. Both are fatty acids and can help reduce water loss and repair the skin barrier.
8. There Are Two Types of Sunflower Seed Production
Sunflower facts can be sporty too! They’re a popular snack among baseball fans. Next time you take your family out to a ball game, thank sunflowers for your salty, crunchy snack. There are two common types of sunflower seed: oilseed and non-oilseed.
Oilseed sunflower production is the most commonly farmed sunflower. These seeds hulls’ are encased by solid black shells. Black oilseeds are a common type of bird feed because they have thin shells and a high fat content. These are typically produced for oil extraction purposes; therefore, it is unlikely you’ll find black oilseeds packaged for human consumption.
Non-oilseed is the production of sunflower seeds for human consumption. These seeds are protected by striped hulls. The non-oilseeds grow on the flower head part of the sunflower plant. Healthline notes sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E and selenium which help prevent chronic disease.
9. Sunflower Oils Can Reduce Cholesterol Levels
An American Heart Association study found consuming more polyunsaturated fats can reduce cholesterol levels. Sunflower oil, a food containing high polyunsaturated fat, is a great alternative to butter and has numerous health benefits. Polyunsaturated fats additionally supply the body with long chain fatty acids which are essential fats for the human body.
10. Sunflowers Are Native to the United States
The sunflower plant is native to North America and is now harvested around the world. A University of Missouri journal recognizes North Dakota as the leading U.S. state for sunflower production. There are various factors to consider for a sunflower to thrive, including temperature, sunlight, soil and water.
A healthy sunflower plant prefers at least six hours of direct sunlight daily with soil pH levels ranging from 6 to 7.5. Our ultimate sunflower resource guide states low to high 70 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal air temperatures for sunflower growth. Lastly, adult sunflowers can withstand intense heat because they are drought-tolerant.
11. Sunflowers Can Be Processed Into Sunbutter
Many know peanut butter, some know almond butter, but have you heard of sunflower seed butter? If you have a nut allergy, sunflower seed butter may be a staple in your diet. An interesting fact about sunflower seed butter is that it has significantly less saturated fat than peanut butter, according to the USDA.
In addition, sunflower seed butter has more minerals than both peanut and almond butters. Having a nut allergy has some benefits.
12. There Are Thousands of Tiny Flowers That Create a Sunflower’s Head
We’ve mentioned the head of a sunflower before, but what does that actually mean? The head of the sunflower is a combination of a thousand tiny flowers. In fact, each petal on the circumference of a sunflower is a flower itself. These long, colorful petals are known as “ray florets.”
13. The Tallest Sunflower is Over 30 Feet
Yes, you read that right. Over 30 feet tall! Hans-Peter Schiffer in Karst, Germany, is responsible for growing this 30 foot, one inch sunflower plant. This was confirmed by Guinness World Records on August, 28 2014. Schiffer also held this same title in 2009, 2012 and 2013.
14. Sunflowers Started as a Food Source
It is known that Natives Americans developed the sunflower plant as a food source. According to a University of Arizona report, sunflower cultivation is thought have to begun over 8,000 years ago. Some even suggest sunflower cultivation began before corn and beans.
Growing sunflowers has evolved beyond food since then. Today, many people use sunflowers as inspiration for fashion, art and home decor.
15. Sunflowers Can Self Pollinate
A common way for sunflowers to pollinate is by attracting bees that transfer self-created pollen to the stigma. In the event the stigma receives no pollen, a sunflower plant can self pollinate to reproduce. The stigma can twist around to reach its own pollen.
Additional fun sunflower fact: seeds produced from self-pollination will grow to be identical to the original sunflower plant.
16. Sunflowers Can Be Cuddly
There’s a type of sunflower that you may mistake for a stuffed animal due to its name. It’s called the Teddy Bear Sunflower.
Teddy Bear Sunflowers
Teddy Bear sunflowers are bushy and spherical. This type of sunflower produces double blooms, which gives them a full and fluffy head like a stuffed bear. Their unusual anatomy led to this plant receiving the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 2015. Moreover, some people use Teddy Bear sunflowers in food as salad garnish or for cake decoration.
These 16 sweet sunflower facts prove sunflowers go beyond being yellow and tall. Whether it’s a nutritional benefit, record-breaking height or circadian rhythms, sunflowers are dynamic plants.
Let us ask once more: When you imagine a sunflower, what do you see?
Now that you’ve pictured your perfect sunflower it might be time to add them to your home. Browse through our sunflower bouquets to find the perfect arrangement for your kitchen, dining room or bedroom.
Summer is here and nothing says summer quite like the sunflower! Sunflowers are known for their large faces and bright petals that match the sun’s rays. Grown year round, sunflowers are relatively easy to cultivate. Their beautiful petals love direct sunlight and flourish best in summer months.
However, not all sunflowers possess that yellow color they are so well known for. Because of the many different types of sunflowers, FTD has created a guide that covers the 15 most beautiful types of sunflowers broken down into tall, dwarf and colored varieties. They also created a visual guide that features the eight most popular types of sunflowers and their names.
Did you know that sunflowers can grow to heights of 16 feet? Because of their tall and stalky stems, they can grow to be several feet high. Here is a list of the most popular types of
sunflowers in the tall variety:
With a maximum height of 15 feet and a face that grows to one foot in width, it is no wonder they call this one the American Giant.
This sunflower can reach heights of up to 12 feet tall with 14-inch flower petals!
This sunflower species is one of the rarest in America. It has an average height of 6.5 feet, but can grow up to 16 feet tall!
This sunflowers height can get anywhere between 10-15 feet high and 40 inches across.
The Russian Mammoth is a popular flower that is used in a lot of county fairs because of its height of 12 feet and effortless ability to grow.
Dwarf sunflowers are a type of sunflower that grows to heights of only three feet or smaller! They love to grow in gardens and look great in planters when placed in bunches. Here is a list of the most popular sunflowers in the dwarf variety:
The average height of this sunflower is about one to two feet high and looks great when wanting to add a splash of color to your garden.
Also known as the “dwarf pacino gold,” this sunflower usually grows to be about 12 to 16 inches with a maximum height of two feet.
This sunflower reaches to be about knee high and was one of the first to ever be domesticated!
Ranging from 12 to 15 inches tall, the Sunny Smile has sturdy stalks that make them great when gardening with children or pets.
The Suntastic Yellow likes to grow in packs of about five or eight and grow to be only 20 inches tall.
Thanks to hybridizing, sunflowers now come in a variety of colors from creamy custard to deep red wine. They are perfect for adding a pop of color to your garden or home decor. Here is a list of the most popular sunflowers in the colored variety:
The Terracotta possesses more brown colors than other sunflowers which make it ideal for fall displays.
This gorgeous flower has red to purple hues that transform to subtle yellow on the tips.
The Earthwalker possesses dark earthy hues that can range from golds and reds to browns.
Arguably one of the most unique colored sunflowers because of its consistent color and extravagant burgundy red petals.
The Chianti is one of the darkest sunflowers because of the deep red wine color of its petals and face.
Because there are so many different types of colored sunflowers, FTD has created a visual guide to the eight most popular colored sunflowers.
Summertime gardens are famous for sunflowers. These glowing, golden, earthly suns delight bees and people alike. They fill the awkward spaces in narrow gardens and peek over fences to greet neighbors. But did you know that sunflowers also detoxify the soil? After the devastation that happened at Chernobyl, cleanup crews planted fields of different types of sunflowers to help heal the earth.
These beautiful flowers can actually pull radiation from the soil. They’re also capable of removing toxic metals such as lead, arsenic, zinc, and copper from soil as deep as their roots can reach into the earth. If your goal is to detox the soil, allow the whole sunflower to die in place after it flowers. Then, gather the dead sunflowers and burn them. The toxins remain in the ashes, but can be contained.
Ultimately, there’s a sunflower to suit every garden. Whether you have an acre to fill with sunny blooms or scarcely a foot of free space, these beauties will inspire and encourage you.
Towering, sky-high sunflowers are ideal for huge fields or narrow yards. They overshadow fences and brighten up walls, and bring all kinds of birds and butterflies to your space. Just keep in mind that some sunflowers can grow to over 17 feet tall, depending on the variety. That’s taller than most fences, and even taller than some houses!
1. Schweinitz’s Sunflower
Rare and delicate, this wildflower sunflower is a stunner! Schweinitz’s Sunflowers can grow anywhere between 6 and 16 feet in height. The blossoms are smaller than traditional sunflowers, with delicate, daisy-like centers. Your neighbors will be in awe and the bees will be grateful!
2. Russian Mammoth
Russia is known for its huge golden sunflowers, and for good reason. The Russian Mammoth is one of the oldest and tallest known types of sunflowers around. These giants can grow over 12 feet tall, with huge, heavy flower heads on trunk-like stems. Leave these late summer beauties in the field to feed squirrels and birds over the long winter.
3. American Giant
A cheerful, lanky hybrid, the American giant grows anywhere from 8 to 15 feet tall. Its sturdy stalk makes this variety a great choice for windy climates or narrow fields. The American Giant won’t bend and slump later in the season like some other varieties, so it’s great in tight-knit neighborhoods or as a windbreak.
4. Giant Edible Sunzilla
This hybrid variety is designed to be uniform and consistent. Which doesn’t sound very exciting, but since it consistently reaches heights over 16 feet and produces huge seed heads, you might want to reconsider. The Giant, Edible Sunzilla has a strong, wind-resistant stalk and bright golden petals. It looks like the sunflowers of your childhood, and it’s big enough to make you feel like a child all over again!
5. Heirloom Titan
Heirloom varieties are a joy to grow, and you can save the seeds for autumn snacking or spring planting. The Heirloom Titan consistently grows up to 12-14 feet tall on strong stalks. Its flowers are traditional yellow with dark, seed-heavy centers. Harvest seeds when the petals drop off for a delicious, fiber-rich addition to salads or parfaits.
6. California Greystripe
Often reaching up to 16 feet tall, the California Greystripe variety is beloved by bees and butterflies. Its heavy seed heads full of plump kernels dry the songbirds into your garden as well. Best of all, the huge, bright yellow heads smile down towards you from this gorgeous giant.
7. Mongolian Giant
Photo credit: Baker Creek
This huge, edible variety is ideal for the sunflower grower in search of a year-long supply of seeds. Mongolian Giants are, well… ENORMOUS. Topping out around 14 feet tall, this huge flower has a seed head that’s over a foot in diameter. Mongolian Giants produce many, dark sunflower seeds, for often up to twice as long as other varieties. As a result, it’s the perfect “homestead sunflower”!
Not all sunflowers are tall, mammoth yellow beauties. In fact, many of them are short and variegated. Dwarf types of sunflowers grow to heights of only 3 feet or less. This makes these mini sunflowers ideal for planters, small side gardens, or sun-loving edging beds.
The Pacino is like a scaled-down version of its mammoth cousins. Think of Pacinos as the hobbits of the Sunflower world, as these lovely flowers rarely reach 2 feet in height. They’re bright, sunshiny gold with wide centers and soft, gentle petals.
9. Elf Sunflower
Everyone’s favorite tiny sunflower, the graceful Elf blooms a bright, luminous golden hue. At only about 16” high, the Elf is easy to tuck into containers, children’s gardens, and butterfly beds. Additionally, this is the shortest sunflower available, and its bright, sunny face is everything a sunflower ought to be.
10. Dwarf Sunspot
These are truly enormous flowers—some over 12’’ across—on tiny stems. Dwarf Sunspots rarely grow taller than 24’’. As a result, their flowers are often over half as wide as the plant is tall. They’re delightful container flowers if you give them a heavy, sturdy pot and plenty of nutrients. The blossoms last longer than many dwarf varieties, attracting birds, bees and butterflies all summer long.
11. Teddy Bear
This tiny, tender variety delights children, bees, and adults alike. It pops up from the ground quite enthusiastically and blooms only two feet above the soil. Teddy Bears are fuzzy flowers, as you might expect from the name. They feature an abundance of small, shaggy petals circle a soft interior. This variety is huggable and soft, with flowers that grow only to 5” in diameter, making it perfect for window boxes and children’s gardens.
Colorful Varieties – Big & Small
Sometimes, the traditional, bright yellow varieties just aren’t what you’re looking for. Sometimes your garden craves an autumn glow or a gothy-vibe. If so, you can still fill a row with sunflowers, just look at varieties that are a little outside the box.
12. Autumn Beauty
These vibrant flowers grow up to 5 feet high and fill the garden with the colors of sunset. Oranges, reds, yellows, and rusts add a warm, gentle fall color the sunny corners of the garden. They bloom in late summer to welcome the cooler days of early fall, and feed the bees before the winter. Try mingling Autumn Beauty sunflowers with conventional varieties for a rich depth of color in your sunflower bed.
One of the deepest branching types of sunflowers with rich, red blooms. Moulin Rouge is a rusty, burgund- toned pollen-less flower. While it produces severely blooms per stalk, this variety won’t feed your pollinators. As a result, use this decorative variety as a cut flower or to highlight the beauty of traditional, yellow sunflowers. Just be sure to offer more substantial fare to your local bees and butterflies.
14. Limoncello Summer
Not all of the unique sunflower varieties are darker. Limoncello Summer sunflowers are a soft, lemony yellow with dark brown centers. Their densely petaled blooms last long on the stem or as cut flowers, making them perfect for bouquets. Limoncellos grow up to 5 feet tall, but like Moulin Rouge, they produce no pollen.
Many of the specialized types of sunflowers are pollen-less hybrids, so be careful to avoid depending on them. Bees depend on gardeners to grow natural, sustaining flowers—let’s not let them down!
15. Red Sun
Warm bronze petals fade to gold, surrounding dark centers on this sunset flower. The Red Sun sunflower grows up to 6 feet tall, and produces many buds. In fact, it often gives 10 or more flowers per plant. Red Sun flowers bloom long and glow among other red flowers, or as a contrasting addition to gold or white blossoms.
16. Ruby Eclipse
Six feet tall with impressive, contrasting blossoms, the Ruby Eclipse is a stunner. Its dark center is surrounded by soft petals that are ruby red near the seed head and lemon yellow at the tips. The flowers can be up to 10 inches in diameter, and look like wide eyes sitting atop thick stems, gazing in wonder at the world around them.
17. ProCut White Nite
You might not expect a sunflower to have a name like this, But ProCut White Nite is a new variety of bright, white sunflower. These grow up to five feet tall with deep, black centers and luminous petals, White Nite is absolutely gorgeous. Unlike many pollen free varieties, White Nite welcomes bees. As a result, these flowers are ideal for the bride who longs for the look of sunflowers, but prefers a light, pastel palette. The pure white petals can easily accept flower dye as well.
18. Black Beauty
Photo credit: Swallowtail Garden Seeds
That’s right, you can grow dark, gothic sunflowers in your witchy garden. While no truly black flowers exist in nature, Black Beauty comes as close as possible. The petals are a deep, velvety dark red that look inky black in all but the brightest sunlight. Growing about 4 feet tall, these pollen-less flowers swathe your garden in elegant darkness. Perfect for Halloween bouquets or haunted houses.
Fun in the Sun!
As you can see, there really are countless types of sunflowers to suit everyone’s personal preferences. Whether you’re a sustenance-minded homesteader, a glowing bride, or parents of a flower-loving child, you’ll appreciate sunflowers for their joyful, friendly additions to any garden. Add one, two, or ten to your little patch of earth and get ready to be delighted.