aka helianthus anuus l.

Sunflowers are an annual plant with a big, daisy-like flower head. These flowers are heliotropic, meaning they turn their heads to follow the sun across the sky.


There are many variations of sunflowers, but most commonly there are sunflowers with branching stems or single stems. You can also choose from sunflowers that produce pollen, pollen-free or ones that produce edible seeds.


full sun

Sunflowers need full sun for optimal growth, about 6 hours of sunlight daily.

water + feeding

not too thirsty

Once established, sunflowers don’t need frequent watering. But they do need deep watering. Overfertilizing can cause stems to break as well. Dillute any fertilizer and avoid the sunflower’s base.



Sunflowers are safe for humans and animals.


medium to large

The smaller, indoor grown varieties grow to about a foot tall. The bigger, outdoor varieties can grow up to 16 feet tall.

pro tip

stationary beauties

Sunflowers don’t like having their roots disrupted. It’s best to plant them in the spots that they’re intended to stay.

fun fact

herb or flower?

Sunflowers are kind of both. They’re listed as a herb in Encyclopedia Britannica, but also have big flowering heads.

beyond the basics

  • soil + potting

    Sunflowers are not sensitive to the pH level of soil. Use an well-draining soil like Miracle Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil and introduce a water soluble fertilizer about halfway through the summer.

  • companion planting

    Sunflowers pair well with many other plants. Consider pairing with shade-loving plants. Sunflowers can cast some shade on veggies like cucumbers or lettuce. Due to their flexible soil needs, they can be planted alongside plants like bush bean varieties, like lima beans or green beans.

  • blooms

    To encourage side blooms, cut indoor varieties on the main stem just before the flower bud has a chance to open. Cut stems in the early morning vs the afternoon to avoid flower wilting. For cut sunflower bouquets, ensure their container provides enough support for their heads. Change the water daily to keep them fresh.

  • pest control

    Birds and squirrels love to scavenge sunflower seeds. Consider covering the head of the plant with garden fleece or protect them with a tall, wire barrier.


  • what are these tiny worms?

    They’re probably gray moths. Sunflowers are pretty much pest-free. If you see tiny worms in the head of the sunflower, it’s likely they’re gray moths. Just pick them off the plant.

  • why are my sunflowers losing leave?

    Could be grasshoppers and caterpillars. These little guys enjoy snacking on the leaves of sunflowers. This doesn’t usually damage the plant, but if there are a lot of these pests, they can defoliate your sunflower quickly.

  • what do spotty leaves mean?

    Could be rust, verticillium wilt or mildew. The damaged leaves will fall off as the disease progresses. Control fungi through proper removal and disposal of infected plants and with a general fungicide.

  • why are my sunflower’s leaves wilting?

    Probably white mold. This is a fungus that causes wilting leaves, stem cankers and root rot. Crop rotation can usually prevent this from happening, as well as maintaining proper watering practices.

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