Helianthus are annual sunflowers that come in many varieties. They grace our gardens with lovely big blooms and seed heads. The sunflower, a native to North America, is an annual plant that should be in every garden. They adore full sun and hot weather.
I grow them for the enjoyment of watching the blooms open and then turn with the sun. I also grow them for the birds in my garden.
The stems are thick and coarse to touch and even the leaves are a bit hairy. The flower heads will turn to follow the sun.
Sometimes they grow where I least expect them in the garden. The birds either drop the seeds as they fly over or the chipmunks and squirrels bury the seeds.
What fun it is to watch the bluejays and goldfinches as they land on the flower heads and eat the seeds inside.
If you want to save the seeds I recommend you cover the flower head with a mesh bag or an old leg off some pantyhose. Otherwise the birds will get the seeds before you do.
The photo above is the seed head starting to dry out. You can see some of the black seed starting to peek through. The seeds come in many colours and sizes … the type of seed you plant will determine the height and the colouring on the sunflowers.
Sow seeds directly outside after the last frost. Space seeds about 10 – 15 cm. apart and cover with about 1.25 cm. of soil. Try to plant them where you want them to grow as I’ve found that the small plants don’t like to be transplanted. You could start the seeds in seedpots inside to give them a head start, then you just need to plant them outside when it starts to warm up. Blooms in August and September.
If you are a seed collector you can print a seed packet or seed label to swap your seeds in.