Sunflower Facts and Tips

Print this page for handy tips on growing and harvesting sunflowers.
For our annual fundraising Sunflower Seedling Sale, we grow everything from the good old traditional single seed-headed Russian giant, to the new fangled gourmet ornamentals, dwarf or tall, multi branching, hold the pollen. A word to the wise: Sunflowers have been the focus of new variety cultivation. Many seed companies have come up with clever, descriptive names which are often naming the same flower in a jazzy way. Nonetheless, we are growing seeds from different seed sources, and do attempt to not duplicate the varieties too much.

Varieties for this year's Sunflower Seedling Sale

Note: Not all varieties will be available at all locations.
TallDwarf and MediumPollen Free
Autumn Beauty Autumn Beauty: Bold, beautiful up to 8" flowers in bright yellow, bronze and purple with some spectacular bi-colours, all reminiscent of autumn hues. 1.5-1.8 ( 5-6’) tall.
Pacific Northwest Seed Co., West Coast Seeds.
Earthwalker Earthwalker: Deep orange terracotta flowers. Dark centres, strong stemmed, multi branching. 2-3m (6.5-10’) tall.
Mr Fothergill
Evening Sun Evening Sun: Multi headed velvety maroon flowers are radiant when backlit by the setting sun. Variations include pale cream edging at the tips or hints of cream edging the centres. Plant stalks and leaf venation are also maroon. Stunning cut flower.
Mr Fothergill
Giant Sungold Giant Sungold: Big (19-20 cm/ 7-8) thick fully double yellow flowers on a 1.8 m (6’) plant.
West Coast Seeds, Pacific Northwest Seeds
Kong Kong: The big one. Covered with (10-15 cm/ 4-6") thick yellow flowers on a sturdy multi branched 3.6 m (12’) plant.
Pacific Northwest Seeds
Mexican Mexican: Also known as Torch. Fiery orange 2-3" flowers attract lots of butterflies all summer long until frost. A favorite because of its extremely long bloom period. Nice for fresh arrangements. Branching plants 4-6’ tall.
Peredovik Peredovik: Handsome Russian cultivar with black seeded central disk for oil or for bird seed.
West Coast Seeds
Ring of Fire Ring of Fire: Golden petal edges and a ring of red surrounding a chocolate brown centre. 1.3m ( 4.5 to 5’) tall.
Mr. Fothergills Seed Co.
Sunzilla Sunzilla: Giant sunflowers, easy to grow big framed strong plants reach up to 14 feet tall! Some single heads, some branching.
Renee’s Garden
Taiyo Taiyo: single large yellow flower with a black centre reaching 12 diameter. 1.8m (6’) tall.
Thompson & Morgan
Colour Fashion Colour Fashion: Elegant tall slender plants produce masses of 5"-6" (13-15cm) gold,rich yellow, deep bronze and bicolor blossoms some of which are semi-doubles. 1.5 - 1.8 m tall (5-6’)
Pacific Northwest Seeds
Giganteus Giganteus: One giant flower 30 cm across perches on a plant that grows like a tree. Create a magical sunflower "house" with Giganteus walls. Sturdy stems don’t require staking. Plants grow to 3.6m (12’) or more!
West Coast Seeds
Holiday Holiday: Traditionally golden yellow rays with dark brown disks, 3-5" blooms. Multi branching habit. Excellent cut flower. 1.5 - 2.1 m tall ( 5-7’)
Pacific Northwest Seeds
Large Russian Large Russian: The perfect plant for a child's garden! Grows to a towering strong plant with a single, massive bloom. 2.4-3.6m (8-12’) tall!!
Pacific Northwest Seed Co.
Velvet Queen Velvet Queen: One of the darkest of all sunflowers, in hues of burgundy, mahogany, chestnut red and bronze with an even darker centre. Early flowering variety. Multiple blooms. 1.8m (6’) tall.
West Coast Seeds, Pacific Northwest Seed Co.
to top 

Dwarf and Medium Height TallPollen Free
Claret Claret: Chocolate brown with gorgeous metallic sheen to the bloom. This mid height habit makes it the ideal addition to borders. 1.2-1.8m (4-6’) tall.
Thompson & Morgan
Floristan Floristan: Multi headed, striking reddish-brown petals with yellow tips and dark centers. Medium height. 91 cm (3’) tall.
Pacific Northwest Seed Co.
Irish Eyes Irish Eyes: Dwarf plants loaded with multiple blooms that have golden pointed petals with green centres. One of the best for pot culture and cutting. Plants grow 0.6-0.76m (24-30") tall. 60 days
Seed Savers Exchange
Italian White Italian White: Creamy white petals surrounding a dark brown centre make this variety truly unique. Thought to be an heirloom variety brought to the US by European immigrants. Multi-headed. 1.2m (4’) tall.
Pacific Northwest Seed Co.
Lemon Queen Lemon Queen: early flowering variety, nice contrast between brown centre and lemon yellow. 1.5m (5’) tall.
Thompson & Morgan
Music Box Music Box: dwarf sunflower in beautiful bi-coloured flowers in mahogany, bronze and cream hues. 70 cm (28")
West Coast Seeds , Pacific Northwest Seed Co.
Pacino Pacino: for patio containers!! Plants are only 30cm-41 cm tall (12-16") and produce bright showy flowers. Early bloomers.
Pacific Northwest Seed Co.
Sunbright Sunbright: Very uniform1.3-1.5m (4½-5’) tall. Large golden yellow petals and beautiful contrasting black centres.
Pacific Northwest Seed Co.
Sunspot Sunspot: Early flowering dwarf. Each stem produces a singe giant bloom with bright yellow petals surrounding a deep golden centre on strong sturdy stems. 45 cm tall (18")
McKenzie Seeds
Peach Passion Peach Passion: dwarf to medium height. Beautiful peach coloured flowers 10cm (4") in diameter with a darker eye. Multi branching habit makes it a nice cut flower. 120cm (4') tall.
Pacific Northwest Seed Co.
Sonja Soraya: Distinct more golden yellow flower than any other sunflower. 1.5-1.8m (5 to 6’) tall and branching.
Pacific Northwest Seed co.
Teddy Bear Teddy Bear: dwarf bushy golden flowers. Blooms for 6 weeks in late summer, makes a nice cut flower. 45 cm (18") tall.
West Coast Seeds, Pacific Northwest Seed Co.
to top 

Pollen Free Dwarf and MediumTall

Pollen Free position statement

After doing some reading over the last year on the role of pollen in a bee’s diet, the worrisome decimation of bee populations and the concurrent emergence of pollen free varieties of flowers in seed catalogues, I have come to understand the grave implications of choosing to grow pollen free varieties of sunflowers.

Bees need pollen for its protein and fat, nectar for its sugar and water. When sunflowers, which bees find marvelously attractive, do not have "readily available" pollen, it is a cruel joke to the bee.

Thus, we will no longer grow pollen free seedlings as part of the Turn to the Sun Project in respect of bees and their need for pollen rich diets.

Here’s to beautiful, messy, protein-rich pollen that feeds the bees and can dust my table top anytime!

For more info please read Bernhardt, P. The Rose’s Kiss; A Natural History of Flowers. Shearwater Press, Washington D.C. or order the paperback through U. of Chicago Press.
to top  

open quote
....I do not despair ever
for I guard one seed
a little live seed
that I shall safeguard
and plant again. close quote

from the poem, The Seed Keepers