Alphabetical Plant Listing

Main Sunflower Types for your Garden

Helianthus annuus, Helianthus salicifolius, Helianthus maximiliani, Helianthus occidentalis, Helianthus tuberosus, Helianthus strumosus, Helianthus argophyllus


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)

'Arikara'

'Mammoth Grey Stripe'

'Russian Mammoth'

Dwarf Annual Sunflowers - Less than 3 ft. (90 cm)

'Suntastic Yellow'

'Firecracker'

'Teddy Bear'

Colorful Annual Sunflowers

'Evening Sun'

'Floristan'

'Strawberry Blonde'

Click here to see all Helianthus varieties

Perennial 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)

Helianthus tuberosus

'Lemon Queen'

Helianthus maximiliani

Dwarf Perennial Sunflowers - Less than 4 ft. (120 cm)

'Happy Days'

Helianthus occidentalis

Helianthus salicifolius 'Low Down'

Click here to compare all Helianthus varieties

  • 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 ChoiceFirecracker or Strawberry Blonde.

Click here to find Garden Ideas with Sunflowers

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 10
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Plant Family Helianthus - Sunflowers
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low, Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Tolerance Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
Compare All Helianthus - Sunflowers Great Plant Combination Ideas with Helianthus - Sunflowers Guides with Helianthus - Sunflowers

AlessandroZocc / Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 10
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Plant Family Helianthus - Sunflowers
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low, Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Tolerance Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
Compare All Helianthus - Sunflowers Great Plant Combination Ideas with Helianthus - Sunflowers Guides with Helianthus - Sunflowers

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