Growing sunflowers by HappyDIYHome New Zealand

Our New Zealand readers from ‘Happy DIY Home’ have once again sent us a comprehensive gardening guide and this one focuses on sunflowers.

Hi Sandy … Jennifer here from HappyDIYHome.  We are passing along this comprehensive guide to growing one of our favourites, the Sunflower.  Enjoy.

“Tall and bright, sunflowers are one of the summer’s most popular plants. Not only are sunflowers incredibly easy to grow they are also quick to flower. Most varieties flower within 95 days of germination. As well as being quick to flower sunflowers are also heat tolerant and pest resistant.

While the tallest varieties can reach over 16 ft in height, if space is limited there are a number of compact dwarf or bush varieties available. This means that anybody can enjoy learning how to grow sunflowers. And if you want something a little different, as well as the typical tall yellow blooms there are also red, maroons, brown and orange flowering varieties.

A member of the asteraceae family along with marigoldsconeflowers, dandelions and asters, young sunflowers are heliotropic plants. This means that the flower follows the sun through the sky. As the seeds develop in the center of the flower the bloom becomes heavier and the plant loses this habit.

Instantly recognizable, learning how to grow sunflowers is a great way to bring color and drama to your garden.

Some of the most popular varieties include:

  • Mammoth, this is a large, traditional looking flower. Reaching over 12 ft, it’s seeds are popular with birds or as a healthy snack.
  • Teddy Bear only reaches a height of 3 ft making it ideal for pots and small gardens. The pompom-like golden flowers also look great in cut displays.
  • Sunrich Gold is another great cut flower, producing pollenless 5 inch golden flowers with a green-yellow center. The plants reach a height of about 5 ft.
  • Autumn Beauty is a spectacular cultivar reaching up to 7 ft. It produces flowers in shades or bronze, yellow and mahogany.
  • Russian Giant is another tall variety, reaching over 10 ft, known for its bright gold flowers.
  • Red Sun reaches a height of 6 ft and produces rich red flowers with balck centers.
  • Vaentina reaches heights of 5 ft. it produces creamy yellow blooms.
  • Dwarf Yellow Spray is another reliable cultivar. A bushy plant, it reaches a height of about 2 ft and produces eye catching yellow flowers.

Did you know that the sunflower’s botanical name, Helianthus annuus, is derived from the Greek? Helios which means sun and anthos, the Greek word for flower.

If you want to learn how to grow sunflowers, this guide will take you through everything you need to know.


Different Sunflower Varieties
How to Grow Sunflowers from Seed
How to Sow the Seeds
How to Care for Growing Sunflowers:
When to Water
Fertilizing Your Flowers
Pinching Out
Companion Plants

How to Identify Common Problems
How to Cut Flowers and Harvest Seeds
Harvesting the Seeds

It is easy to learn how to grow Helianthus from seed. Garden and DIY stores sell seed packets, but if you want something a little different or unusual you may need to order the seeds from a seed company or nursery. When purchasing your seeds always buy them from a reputable business or company.

If you aren’t sowing all the seeds in one go or successively during the spring and summer you can store excess seeds for use the following year.

How you store seeds affects their longevity. Store the seeds in an airtight container and keep in a cool, dry place until you are ready to use. While this helps them to keep for a few years, as seeds get older they lose their viability meaning that germination becomes more difficult.”

Sunflowers are not only a bright cheery note in the garden, they are also fascinating for children as these giant flowers turn their faces to follow the sun.

For more on everything you want to know about growing sunflowers, visit our friends in New Zealand at: