How to grow Sunflower?

  • Latin Family: Asteraceae
  • Latin Genus: Helianthus
  • Ease of Growing: Easy
  • Growing Type: Annual

Many people think of Sunflowers as an ornamental, rather than an edible crop, but the seeds are highly nutritious. Sunflowers have a great diversity in color and size. This is one flower that children find great pleasure in growing.

Sunflower History

Sunflower is a true native American, but it first became an important commercial crop in Russia, when breeders produced a variety with unusually large, oil-rich seeds. This use quickly spread throughout Eastern Europe until they were the most important oil seed crop grown there. It is now an important crop in its native land as well, though even today many commercial varieties are of Russian origin.

Soil Preference

  • PH (min/max): 5.5 - 7.5
  • PH Ideal (min/max): 6.5 - 7.0

Sunflowers are very hungry plants and for good growth they need rich, moist soil with an abundance of nutrients.

How to care for Sunflower?

Sunflowers are an easy crop to grow, so long as they have fertile soil and plenty of water.


Sunflowers are thirsty plants and for maximum production they need a constant supply of water.


Low nitrogen. High phosphorus. High potassium. Sunflowers like phosphorus and potassium, but not too much nitrogen as it may encourage leaf growth rather than flowering.


Seed Viability: 3 - 5 years

Sunflowers are cross-pollinated by insects, so you can only save the seed from one variety at a time (they will also cross with wild plants). Gathering the seed is easy, except for the fact that birds and squirrels will take every full kernel if you don't protect them.


Sun: min. 6 hours daily

Full sun.

Conditions:Warm, Hot

Season:Short Season, Long Season


Dry the seeds carefully if you want to store them for any length of time. If they are not fully dry they will mold.

Storage Req: Drying
Storage Temp: 55-70°F
Storage Length: 180-360 days



Birds love sunflower seeds and can be a major pest in some areas. You can put a bag over the head, if necessary, to keep birds away from them.

Sunflower Types

  • Mexican
  • These stout sunflowers can get to be 5 - 6' tall and 2 - 3' across. One of the only sunflowers that produce two generations in a single summer; spring sown sunflowers will flower and go to seed by summer, creating more spectacular flowers in fall.

  • Miniature
  • Also known as Dwarf Sunflowers, Minature sunflowers grow from 2' to 4'. They are used mainly as an ornamental flower while providing birds and animals with some edible seed. They also make great borders or edging plants for gardens.

  • Mix
  • A mixture of Sunflowers. Some are mixture of colors, while others give you multiple varieties in one seed packet.

  • Giant
  • These beautiful exuberant plants can reach 12' in height or more and produce flowers a foot across.

  • Regular
  • These beautiful exuberant plants can reach 10' in height and produce flowers a foot across.


  • Deer
  • Birds
  • Leafhoppers
  • Leafminers
  • Rabbits
  • Slugs and snails
  • Japanese Beetle
  • Lace Bug
  • Wireworm
  • Caterpillars
  • Flea Beetle
  • Carrot Beetle
  • Cutworms
  • Tarnished Plant Bug
  • Painted Lady Butterfly
  • Crickets and Grasshoppers
  • Nematodes


  • Gray Mold Botrytis Fruit Rot
  • Septoria Leaf Spot
  • Mosaic Virus (Several species)
  • Bacterial Wilt
  • Bacterial Leaf Spot
  • Rust
  • Fusarium Wilt
  • Damping Off
  • Downy Mildew
  • Alternaria Blight
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Verticillium Wilt

What's Smart Gardener ?

The easiest way to plan, grow and harvest your own food....

It's an online vegetable garden planner for anyone who wants homegrown, healthy and tasty food to be part of their lifestyle...while having a busy life.

Find out more...

Join Now

Try it out!
Explore Maggies Garden...

Sample garden plan image

Take a look at Maggies Smart Garden, its vegetable garden Layout, Plants in her Garden, Weekly To Dos and her Garden Journal.

Sunflower Sunflower Chamomile, German Chamomile, German Calendula Calendula Marigold Marigold Alyssum Alyssum Rose Rose Roselle Roselle Nasturtium Nasturtium Bachelor Button Bachelor Button Morning Glory Morning Glory