Sunflower

Helianthus annuus

Sonneblom (Afr.)

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Sunflowers are some of the easiest plants to start from seed. The name sunflower refers to the shape of the flowerhead, which resembles the sun, or from the false impression that the flower appears to turn towards the sun as it moves across the sky. These fast-growing annuals also provide good cut flowers, as well as being attractive to a range of pollinating insects, particularly bees!

Planning

Difficulty

Easy

Flowering time

Summer

Fruiting time

Autumn

Harvesting

Cut heads off once they begin to yellow at the back. Hang them upside down in a dry pest free environment. once dry seeds can be rubbed off. Flower heads should be laid out to dry, and then the seeds are rubbed out of the head. The seeds are then allowed to continue to dry fully to avoid mildew. Harvest seeds when fully dry. Add the spent stalks to the compost heap.

Propagation

Division

Propagate by division in spring or autumn.

Seed

Sowing time best during spring/summer with a spacing of 50 - 70 cm. Sowing depth is 2 - 8 cm with a fast germination time of 10 - 14 days. Sow seeds indoors March to April. Plant out in May.

Special features

Attracts useful insects

Attracts butterflies and bees.

Crop rotation

Heavy Feeder

Attractive flowers

The flowers are large and striking, their heads follow the sun through the day turning to face the sun.

Attracts bees

Attracts butterflies

Special features

Origin

Southwest region of North America.

Natural climate

Warm temperate

Environment

Light

Full Sun, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture

Moist

Soil type

Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand

Soil PH preference

Alkaline, Neutral, Acid

Frost hardiness

Hardy

Uses

Edible

Fruits or seeds are eaten and enjoyed whole, or pressed to make heart healthy oil or butters. The edible petals make a bright addition to a salad.

Cut flowers

Some smaller varieties are grown as cut flowers.

Ornamental

Some varieties are grown as garden plants.

Personality

Family

Asteraceae

Flower colour

Yellow, Red, Orange

Scent

None

Problems

Caterpillars and beetles often chew on the foliage.

Companion plants