Who doesn’t LOVE sunflowers? They bring an instant smile to just about everyone. There are over 70 varieties of sunflowers available in a variety of sizes and colors. These annual beauties are one of the easiest flowers to grow (if the chipmunks don’t get them first)! More on that below.
Sunflowers need little care and are drought-tolerant. Some varieties may need extra support; planting huge varieties near a fence or wall can help. They have long roots, so the more space you give them, the taller they can grow. However, if you plan on using them for flower arrangements, they should be planted closer together. They will not grow as tall or wide – perfect for cutting.
Most of all, sunflowers love SUN!
Sunflowers actively grow towards the sun from dawn until dusk, that’s why they are always facing the sun! Following the sun’s path across the sky, sunflowers use heliotropism as a way to improve pollination and seed development.
Spacing tips for seed sowing:
- Giant, tall sunflowers (up to 15 feet tall): 3 feet apart
- Average sized sunflowers (up to 8 feet tall): 1 foot apart
- Dwarf varieties (less than 3 fee tall): 8 to 12 inches apart
Grow sunflowers in gardens and containers. Basically, you can make room for sunflowers just about anywhere. Read on to see what works for your space.
Here’s a list of 8 great sunflowers that will bloom by August:
1. American Giant Sunflowers – Giant
They get their name for a reason – they are the most popular variety of sunflowers used for competitions at the county fair or garden club. American Giant sunflowers can grow 15 feet tall, sometimes more – if they have enough space to root. Their faces are almost 1 foot wide! Their stem grows strong and tough to support the sunflower’s big, heavy head.
2. Lemon Queen Sunflower – Average Height
This tall and beautiful sunflower is a prolific bloomer, favorited by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The petals are subtle lemon and their chocolate faces grow up to about 5 inches wide. Lemon Queens are multi-branched, average height is 6 ft. tall.
3. Black Oil Sunflowers – Average Height
Did you know you can plant Black Oil Sunflower seeds – the kind of seeds you use to feed the birds? Save a TON of money! Plus, since you will most likely have these on hand most of the year, you can start them indoors early. I usually plant a fresh batch every week.
Lots of birds love black-oil sunflower seeds, including Cardinals, Blue Jays, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Titmice, Finches and more! Squirrels and chipmunks also LOVE them – it becomes problematic because they will jump and climb on the flowers to get them. After losing a few to these clever varmits, I am experimenting with tulle by securing it lightly around the flower head. I also use tulle to keep my seedlings covered because the chipmunks get into the greenhouse and eat them. How do they know???
In my experience, Black Oil Sunflowers grow smaller than other varieties, but it may be because they are grown closer together. They grow about 4 feet tall and a 6 inch head – the face is about 3 inches wide.
4. Teddy Bear Sunflowers – Dwarf
If you’re short on space, try planting this short bushy variety. The blooms are fluffy and golden-yellow – perhaps the cutest sunflowers around! These sunflowers can grow to about 2 feet tall. They are great for flower arrangements.
5. Little Becka Sunflower – Dwarf
At two to three feet tall, this compact bush variety is considerably shorter than many sunflowers. It features gorgeous red flowers with orange tips and yellow halos. The flowers grow up to six inches across and has reddish brown faces. This plant matures early and has a branching habit that creates an abundance of beautiful flowers!
6. Moulin Rouge Sunflower – Average Height
This beauty has mahogany red petals surrounding a dark cocoa face. It grows to 5 to 7 feet tall, with blooms of around 5 inches across. A pollen-less, branching variety and unique color makes it a winner!
7. Chianti Sunflower – Average
This is one of the earliest pollen-less red sunflowers. The petals have a deep red wine color aptly name Chianti! It has a branching habit that produces an abundance of flowers on purple stems. Chianti grows between 4 feet and 6 feet tall with a deep dark face about 4 inches wide.
8. Sunfinity – Dwarf-ish
This is a relatively new hybrid variety. It is touted as easiest to grow with nonstop blooming action on multiple branches. It will grow all season long with over 100 blooms on one plant. It grows 3 to 4 feet tall and needs 2 to 3 feet of space in the garden or in a container.
It makes a great cut flower – enjoy bouquets on rainy days while the plant continues to bloom outside. Like the Mexican Sunflower, it provides nectar for butterflies, beneficial insects and hummingbirds. I will be adding this to my garden next year!
BONUS! Mexican Sunflower – Tithonia
Although it has sunflower in it’s name, Tithonia is in the daisy family of bushy plants native to Mexico and Central America. It has large, bright orange daisy-like flowers on thick stems.
Mexican sunflowers grow 4-6+ feet tall and the flowers are about 4 inches wide. The foliage and stems are covered with a soft downy fuzz. The flower provides nectar for butterflies, beneficial insects and hummingbirds.
In summary, Sunflowers come in many shapes and sizes and can be planted in the garden or a small container.