The sunflower is an annual North American flower that comes in a vast variety of colors and forms, whether giants of the garden with 15 feet tall flowers or dwarf bedders only a foot tall.
Description: Breeders have given us sunflowers in shades of cream, yellow, orange, red, rust, and brown, with and without pollen. Pollen stains are a problem with cut flowers. Leaves are large and coarse. Bedding types are well branched.
How to grow: Sunflowers prefer full sun and rich, well-drained soil. They're tolerant of heat and drought. Plant the tall varieties 12 to 18 inches apart, dwarf ones at 9- to 12-inch spacings. Pinch the central tip of bedding types for more branching.
Propagation: Sow seeds outdoors after final frost. Seeds germinate in 10 to 20 days at 70 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uses: The dwarf kinds can be used in beds and borders, while the taller varieties are best at the back of the border. All are great in bouquets. Sunflower seeds are used as food for animals, birds, and people. Leave the seed heads on your sunflowers and watch the birds have a treat.
Scientific name: Helianthus annuus