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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
Pronounced: hee-lee-AN-thus AN-yoo-us
Click on thumbnails at the bottom of the page to see individual cultivars of sunflowers and their attributes.
United States to Central America.
Height: varies with each variety.
Most cultivars look like daisies and come in colors of creamy white, gold, yellow, red and rust.
Oval to heart-shaped hairy leaves.
Fertile, neutral to alkaline, moist but well-drained soil is best.
Add a complete organic fertilizer when planting.
Sow seed in situ in spring.
To get an early start sow seeds indoors late winter to early spring. Germinate at temperatures of 61° F (16° C). Germination will normally occur within 10-14 days. Harden seedlings off and plant outdoors after last frost.
Pests and Diseases:
Susceptible to downy mildew, powdery mildew, and rust. Aphids, cut worms, caterpillars, beetles and weevils may be a problem.
Rainy Side Notes
Sunflower lore says the sunflower brings blessings of the sun into your garden. If a woman wants to conceive, she should eat the seeds. Even if it did not work, at least she would be eating healthy snacks while she waits. Psst, there is a better tried and true method to conception, but that discussion belongs on another web site.
Sow seed every three weeks for a succession of flowers throughout the summer. Sunflowers are excellent as a cut flower. Before the flowers open, the green buds are delicious sautéed in a butter sauce. Many of the sunflowers listed produce edible seed.
For cut flowers, harvest when center is tight and dark and no petals have curled back. With floral preservative, flowers should last 7-9 days. Pollen-less cultivars will last longer in the vase. If flowers droop, re-cut stems and plunge immediately into warm water. Drooping flowers usually indicates water is being blocked in the stems.
Let some of the seed heads mature and leave in the garden for the birds.
Click on thumbnails below to view each cultivar of Helianthus with attributes listed for each one.
Photographed in author's garden.