33 Different Types of Sunflowers and Why You Should Grow Them

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Sunflowers in an open field.

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.

Types

American Giant

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.

Autumn Beauty

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.

Bashful

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.

Big Smile

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.

Chianti

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.

Chocolate Cherry

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.

Earthwalker

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.

Elf

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.

Firecracker

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.

Giant Sungold

Giant sungold sunflower

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.

Giganteus

Giganteus sunflower

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.

Italian White

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.

Junior

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.

Kong Hybrid

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.

Lemon Queen

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.

Little Becka

Little becka sunflower

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.

Mammoth Russian

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.

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge sunflower

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.

Ms. Mars

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.

Pacino

Pacino sunflower

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.

Royal Hybrid

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.

Schweinitz’s Flower

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.

Skyscraper

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.

Soraya

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.

Strawberry Blond

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.

Sundance Kid

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.

Sunforest Mix

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.

Sunny Smile

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.

Taiyo Sunflowers

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.

Terracotta

Perfect for fall displays, this sunflower produces a brown petal with cream-colored tips. It has a large brown center and a striking appearance.

Titan

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

Growing 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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