Nothing ever screams summer than sunflowers. Those bright, yellow flowers, with petals that resemble the sun’s rays are everything you need to enliven your yard. To prepare that sunflower garden bed for the next summer, you must plan about what type of sunflower you should have.
Yes, you read that right. There are different types of sunflowers. As a matter of fact, there are 100 species of the flower scattered all over the world. We would not cover it all, for sure, but in this post, you will find some of the most popular types of sunflowers you could choose from.
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- Sunflower facts
- Sunflower symbolism
- 25 types of sunflowers
- Tall sunflowers
- 1. Shweinitz’s sunflower (Helianthus schweinitzii)
- 2. Mammoth Russian sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘Russian Mammoth‘)
- 3. American giant sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘American Giant‘)
- 4. Sunforest mix sunflower
- 5. Skyscraper sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘Skyscraper‘)
- 6. ‘Heirloom Titan’ Giant Sunflowers
- 7. California Greystripe
- Dwarf sunflowers
- Colored sunflowers
- FAQs on sunflowers
- Where can I buy a sunflower plant?
Related: Types Of Flowers
Before we get to the types of sunflowers, let us first have a roundup of some of the most interesting sunflower facts and trivia that you should be aware of when it comes to these wondrous flowering plants.
- Not all sunflowers are yellow. There are also purple and red pigmentations for it.
- Young sunflowers track the sun in a process called heliotropism. This is a part of their circadian rhythm. They follow the sun from sunrise to sunset until they reach maturity.
- At maturity, adult sunflowers only now face east. And when they do, they become 5x more attractive to pollinators.
- The oil from the sunflower is an all-around therapeutic agent. It is anti-inflammatory, and with enough fatty acid for weight loss, rehydration and for skin repair.
- Sunflower seeds and sun butter are packed with Vitamin E and selenium which helps in fighting cardiovascular and other chronic diseases because it lessens cholesterol levels.
- The first sunflower was discovered in 3000 BC and archaeologists establish that it has been around longer than before maize or corn was even domesticated.
- Sunflowers are native to North America and started as a food source for many indigenous groups around the region around 8,000 years ago.
- The sunflower’s head contains thousands of little sunflowers. They are called ray florets.
- The tallest sunflower was listed in Karst, Germany. It was 30ft tall.
- It was brought to space in 2012 by astronaut Don Pettit. He made a sunflower bed in space and regularly focused his blog on them.
- Sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine and the state flower of Kansas.
Having been around for more than 8,000 years, with a taxonomic registry dating to as early as the 1800s, it is normal to have a lot of symbolisms surrounding the sunflower. As a native American flower, it is referenced in many native American ritual practices, consumed as food, and utilized for its medicinal properties. As such, here are some of the sunflower symbolisms out there.
In Greek mythology, sunflowers are connected to the love and betrayal of the sun god Apollo. He cheated on a girl for a princess. The princess was buried alive by her father and in grief, she was turned into a sunflower by Apollo. But in most meaning associations, it is connected to many symbolisms focused on the sun.
For one, it is known for being happy flowers and as such are associated with happiness, loyalty, adoration, and longevity. In China, sunflowers are associated with vitality and good fortune. They are given as 3rd anniversary gifts in all of China. For the native Americans, it symbolizes bounty and provision.
In religious symbolism, it is connected to spiritual enlightenment, truth, and light. As a matter of fact, they were brought into places of worship and were used as decorative pieces in robes, crowns, and garments by the nobility around the world.
Most importantly, they are the ultimate symbol of hope and peace. In 1996, it was chosen by the world’s summit to represent a nuclear-free world. Since then, sunflowers were planted around old missile bases across Ukraine and a lot of nuclear bases in the former USSR, in Chernobyl, as well as Hiroshima and Fukushima.
25 types of sunflowers
As has been mentioned, there are at least a hundred species of sunflowers out there. While we would not cover all of them, this list here is made for a practical reason: you can use it to narrow down the best sunflower choice to put in your landscape or line it up in containers on the porch. So, be it for beautification or fresh flower cuts, here are 25 types of sunflowers for you.
The ones featured in this category grow to at least 12ft and above. Most of them are hybrids but there are also native species. If you want good border and accent plants, these should be a priority.
1. Shweinitz’s sunflower (Helianthus schweinitzii)
This is considered as one of the rarest American sunflower species. It grows to up to 16ft. Their blooms are bright yellow but are slightly smaller than traditional sunflowers. They are identifiable for their daisy looking centers and petals.
2. Mammoth Russian sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘Russian Mammoth‘)
It is one of the tallest and oldest sunflower species out there growing to up to 12ft with wide, huge, and heavy flowerheads. They have thick, trunk-like stems. They are a good focal point during the summer but last long enough to be a stable food source for birds and squirrels over the winter.
3. American giant sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘American Giant‘)
This is one of the most beautiful corner flowers out there, growing to up to 15ft. It is a cheerful hybrid that is made for harsher climates thanks to its durable trunk and ability to withstand heavy winds. As such, it makes a good windbreaker for a corner landscape.
4. Sunforest mix sunflower
This one could grow to up to 15ft with a growth spread of up to 40-inches. This is the reason why a 4-ft spacing in between planting is needed for it to reach its maximum height.
5. Skyscraper sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘Skyscraper‘)
As the name suggests, it grows to up to 14ft with thick stalks and heavy flower heads that bloom 14-inch petals. It also has a huge center that looks like an embossed cushion. Its durable stalks are also made for harsh climates.
6. ‘Heirloom Titan’ Giant Sunflowers
This one has a consistent growth of up to 14ft. It has edible seeds which you can harvest before summer ends, dry and pack for some munchers for the cold season or as toppers for parfaits and even salads. They have the traditional sunflower yellow flowers, with durable stalks, seed-packed centers.
7. California Greystripe
This is a favorite flower for many birds and bees. It grows to up to 16ft with a huge flower head, bright yellow petals, and a geometrical looking center with lots of seeds. It has thick stems, and easily becomes a beautiful focal point in any garden.
These ones make beautiful container plants that you can use as contrast plants or indoor focal points for long summer blooms. Some of them have unique color splashes that make them a sight to behold in any garden, porch or patio.
8. Sunny smile sunflower
This one blooms the entire summer and grows to only 2.5ft tall. They are good potted sunflowers, with sturdy stalks, easy to grow, and are good for landscapes with active pets and children.
9. Suntastic yellow sunflower
The Suntastic tends to bloom at least 5-8 flower heads in one stem. They are identifiable for their bright, yellow petals and dark, almost black centers. The dark center is slightly embossed out and it grows to just 1.5ft.
10. Little Becka sunflower
This is another 1-2ft sunflower known for its red halo effect around the petals. By mid-summer, the halo shall overpower the yellow, giving you bright orange sunflower petals. They are perfect for compact landscapes and raised planters. They are pollenless sunflowers.
11. Pacino sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘Pacino Cola’)
Like the Suntastic, this one also blooms in packs. There are 4-10 flower heads in one sturdy stem, growing from 12-16-inches. It has a lighter yellow color, a well-curated yellow green center, making it a good flower cut for vases and arrangements.
12. Sundance Kid sunflower
It is one of the earliest if not the earliest breed of dwarf sunflowers. They only grow to a max height of 2ft, with fuzzy, custard yellow petals, chocolate brown center and a color mix that fades to light red.
13. Teddy Bear sunflower
This one is known for its fluffy petals, hence the teddy bear name. Because of its unique, dense look and edible petals, it is used as garnish for naked cakes and salads. It only grows at 2ft tall, pollenless and known for its profuse flowering.
14. Firecracker sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘Firecracker’)
It is considered as a semi-dwarf to dwarf type and is considered as a common sunflower growing to 1.5-3ft. It is perfect as container plants and grows at 20-30cm in width. When it blooms, it produces golden yellow and orange sunflowers with prominent dark brown centers.
15. Topolino sunflower
While only growing to 2ft, each stem of this sunflower holds clusters of small flowerheads thanks to its branching habit. The flowers are bright yellow in color and good as border and container plants.
For that tinge of exoticism, distinctness and visual display, these colored sunflowers are what you should opt for. They are flashy, grow diversely in different heights and bloom with different tones.
16. Earthwalker sunflower
It is called as such because of the splash of earth tones on its huge flower head. It grows to up to 9ft, producing several flowers per summer bloom. It has petals that are like daisies, with red, mahogany brown, and rust orange petals. It has an embossed center of dark chocolate and yellow tiny sprinkles scattered on it.
17. Terracotta sunflower
It is one of the most distinguishable and very beautiful colored sunflowers out there. It produces an old school effect with that orange, clay brown and red tones splashed in the petals, producing a unique glow. It grows to 5ft and makes a good visual display during fall.
18. Chianti sunflower
It is one of the most popular colored sunflowers out there, used in flower arrangements and bouquets. It has a unique, red wine pigment and is considered as one of the most deeply hued sunflowers. It is pollenless, with a beautiful dark brown center and grows at 6ft.
19. Moulin Rouge sunflower
It is one of the most exotic looking sunflowers out there. It has a consistent hue of burgundy red that does not fade even under constant exposure to the sun. It is a sought-after flower cut used for bouquets and vases. It grows up to 4ft.
20. Black Magic sunflower
If you want that gothic, witchy vibe, this is the colored sunflower that you need. While there is no natural black sunflower, this is the closest thing that you could get to black. Its petals are velvety, grow to 4ft, and pollenless. They are perfect for Halloween decorations and special bouquet arrangements.
21. Strawberry Blonde sunflower
Like the Little Becka, this one also has a halo. The petals are whitish yellow with a flush of reddish pink with a hint of orange per petal, creating a halo effect. The dark brown center of this flower makes a beautiful contrast. Each stem produces multiple flower stalks and grows to just 5ft.
22. Sunrich Lime sunflower
This one makes a beautiful flower cut with that huge flower head blooming on a single stem. It is pollenless, fast growing (reaching maturity at just 60 days). It gets its name for its lime-colored central disc and lemon yellow petals. It is a hybrid, growing to 6ft.
23. Autumn Beauty sunflower
If you want to fill your landscape with the tones of the sunset and autumn leaves, this one is a sunflower for you. It has the colors of fall: dark yellow, plush red, rust orange with sunny yellow corners. It grows to 5ft, blooming by late summer to mid-fall and remains a steady food source for bees and birds during winter.
24. Red Sun sunflower
This is another sunset flower with a beautiful dark center, and daisy-like petals that fade from warm bronze to shades of gold. It grows to 6ft and each stem produces multiple flower heads (at least 10 per stem) the entire summer. It provides a good contrast and warm glow to bright colored flowers in your landscape.
25. Ruby Eclipse sunflower
This one produces a huge flower head, an equally huge dark brown center that looks like an eye gazing around the landscape. It grows to 6ft, with soft, ruby red and rusty orange petals with bright yellow tips. It is pollenless and is just a landscape stunner.
FAQs on sunflowers
Are purple black sunflowers real?
Yes, and there are at least 50 species of them. These species belong to the genus Helianthus. The sunflowers included in this would be the Ruby Eclipse, Chocolate Gold, Claret and Chianti.
Is it normal for sunflowers to fade into purple?
Yes. As a matter of fact, the purple pigments across the leaves, stems, and petals make the sunflower UV protected. The pigment is called anthocyanin which in logic, makes the sunflower a sunflower because it makes them resistant to getting burnt even in long sun exposures.
How long do sunflowers bloom?
They usually bloom for two weeks straight, starting from early summer. Some species, however, could bloom longer, extending to fall and up to early winter. But the whole plant can last for a couple of months and with minimum care requirements.
What to do with sunflowers after they die?
When the sunflowers turn brown and die out, it is the signal for harvesting the seeds. One indicator would be plumper seeds coming out of the center. Prune it with scissors, place its central disc down to a container to catch all the seeds.
Why are my sunflower heads empty?
There are varying reasons. One would be that the species you have is pollenless. Other reasons would be lack of pollination due to pests.
What are the rarest sunflower species?
If you want to score the rarest sunflowers, here are the species that you should check out first:
- Schweinitz’s (this is considered the rarest of all)
- Black Magic
- Orange Sun
- Coconut Ice
- Prado Red
- Solar Flare
- Ms. Mars
- Ring of Fire
Where can I buy a sunflower plant?
Because sunflowers are easy to take care of, you would find seeds and seedlings in your local nurseries. But if you are looking for legit stores where you could buy one, here are some stores where you could check it from:
- Grow Joy
- City Floral
- The Home Depot
You can also check for sunflower seeds and seedlings on the following online stores:
- Sunflower Selections
- Terra Green
- American Meadows
- Sunflower General
- The Sunflower Market
- Sunflower Family
- Sunflower Natural
Sunflowers are more than just border plants or focal points in your landscape. They are easy to plant, grow and take care of and aside from that, it comes in various types, a lot of uncanny benefits as well as deep symbolisms.
There is no wonder why sunflowers are so attractive but once you get to know these flowers beyond a bird’s eye view, you would understand why it means a lot of things to many people. Indeed, it is a well-loved flower and for all good reasons.