The Main Plant entry for Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)

This database entry exists to show plant data and photos that apply generically to all Sunflowers.

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Annual
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Water Preferences: Mesic
Dry Mesic
Fruit: Edible to birds
Flowers: Showy
Uses: Dye production
Edible Parts: Fruit
Dynamic Accumulator: Ca (Calcium)
Mn (Manganese)
Zn (Zinc)
Cu (Copper)
Resistances: Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Self fertile
Sow in situ
Pollinators: Flies

Common names
  • Common Sunflower
  • Sunflower
  • Kansas Sunflower

Photo Gallery
Location: My garden in eastern Massachusetts
Date: 2017-09-09
Location: Oregon
Date: 2010-07-13
Location: Sangamon Co. Il.
Date: 2018-05-21
Location: Sangamon Co. Il.
Date: 2018-05-20
Location: Sangamon Co. Il.
Date: 2018-05-20
This plant is tagged in:
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  • Posted by plantladylin (Sebastian, Florida - Zone 10a) on Oct 7, 2011 3:39 PM concerning plant:
    Helianthus annuus is an annual that is native to the Americas. It grows 6 to 12 feet in height and has hairy oval or heart shaped leaves and hairy stems. This common sunflower requires full sun and is drought tolerant. I haven't grown sunflowers from seed in a long while, but there have always been a few sprouting in the yard for the past few years, compliments of the backyard birds! I don't know anyone who doesn't like the sunflower. If those big, beautiful heads of flowers don't make you smile, I don't know what will.
  • Posted by Newyorkrita (North Shore, Long Island, NY ) on Sep 30, 2011 11:51 AM concerning plant:
    Each year I like to grow some sunflowers in my garden. They actually self seed, so I can just leave a few plants where I want them. I grow them not only because they are pretty, but also to attract the backyard songbirds. As soon as the flowers start to get ripe seedheads, goldfinches arrive to eat them. They will keep coming as long as there are seeds for them to pluck. So if you want to attract goldfinches, grow sunflowers, which are an excellent alternative to a feeder.

    Located on Long Island, NY zone 6/7, where it is humid in the summer.
  • Posted by Wally2007 (Connecticut - Zone 6a) on Jun 9, 2020 6:53 AM concerning plant:
    I am in my second year with my dozen or so sunflowers. When I plant I have sowed as many as three seeds in one hole. I usually plant a variety of sunflowers and they are really beautiful when fully developed. Given that scenario when they get to a good size I have to stake them due to the heavy winds I get in my backyard. They are about 7 or 8 inches in growth at this time and I just can't wait to see them fully grown again.
    Any advice with my care in raising them would be greatly appreciated.
  • Posted by Marilyn (Kentucky - Zone 6a) on May 21, 2013 1:53 AM concerning plant:
    "The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large inflorescence (flowering head), and its name is derived from the flower's shape and image, which is often used to depict the sun. The plant has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves and circular heads of flowers. The heads consist of many individual flowers which mature into seeds, often in the hundreds, on a receptacle base. From the Americas, sunflower seeds were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. Leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed, while the stems contain a fibre which may be used in paper production.

    To grow best, sunflowers need full sun. They grow best in fertile, moist, well-drained soil with heavy mulch. In commercial planting, seeds are planted 1.5 feet apart and 1 inch deep. Sunflower "whole seed" (fruit) are sold as a snack food, raw or after roasting in ovens, with or without salt and/or seasonings added. Sunflowers can be processed into a peanut butter alternative, sunflower butter. In Germany, it is mixed with rye flour to make Sonnenblumenkernbrot (literally: sunflower whole seed bread), which is quite popular in German-speaking Europe. It is also sold as food for birds and can be used directly in cooking and salads. American Indians had multiple uses for sunflowers in the past, such as in bread, medical ointments, dyes and body paints.

    The sunflower is the state flower of the US state of Kansas."

    Taken from wikipedia's page at:

  • Posted by KFredenburg (Black Hills, SD - Zone 5a) on Jun 23, 2020 12:13 PM concerning plant:
    This plant's flower is the state flower of Kansas.
  • Posted by Catmint20906 (PNW WA half hour south of Olympia - Zone 8a) on Aug 3, 2014 2:19 PM concerning plant:
    Helianthus annuus is a larval host plant for the Spring Azure, Silvery Checkerspot, and Painted Lady Butterflies.

    According to the NPIN, this plant has special value to native bees while its seed heads attract a wide variety of birds.

  • Posted by Mindy03 (Delta KY) on May 9, 2012 6:19 PM concerning plant:
    Honey bees get golden pollen from this plant. Also a reliable source of hnoeydew.
Plant Events from our members
dragonfetti On March 25, 2015 Seeds germinated
dragonfetti On March 15, 2015 Seeds sown
"Sunny Skies" mix from American Seed. In AR container
paleohunter On April 24, 2021 Seeds sown
paleohunter On April 24, 2021 Obtained plant
MySecretIslandGarden On July 28, 2022 Bloomed
The volunteer sunflowers have started to bloom. The seeds were spread from the birds from the feeders.
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