The Sunflower is one of the most popular genera of flowers for the garden and is one reason it was chosen as the annual in National Garden Bureau’s 2021 Year of the Sunflower. Gardeners gravitate to these bold, easy-to-grow flowers either for cut flowers or floriferous shrubs or head-turning focal points.
Choosing which variety to grow is the hard part! Single stem sunflower varieties are best for high-density plantings and produce consistently beautiful flowers on tall stems. Succession planting will be needed for continuous blooms throughout the season. Branching varieties produce flowers on multiple shorter stems throughout the season, which makes them ideal for sunflowers all season long.
Another way to distinguish sunflowers is by their height and size. Today, there are smaller, ornamental sunflower varieties to grow in containers. Other varieties, such as American Giant can grow to be 15+ feet. Depending on their height, the size of the flower will also change accordingly.
Sunflower seeds can be direct sown after the risk of frost has passed or get a head start by starting indoors. Seeds should be sown ¼” to ½” deep and kept moist. Taller, larger sunflower varieties have a large taproot to keep them rooted and do not do well when transplanted so direct sowing of those varieties is recommended. Choose a site, or a container, in full sun, with average fertility and good drainage. Then sit back and enjoy the show.
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Diane Blazek is the Executive Director at All-America Selections/National Garden Bureau. The National Garden Bureau is a non-profit organization that exists to educate, inspire, and motivate people to increase the use of plants in homes, gardens, and workplaces by being the marketing arm of the gardening industry.