"Sunflower" specifically referes to the species Helianthus Annuus, which is the common annual sunflower most often planed by gardeners. But, "sunflower" is also used to denote any plant in the genus Helianthus. If you have grown sunflowers you probably know where they get that name. The plants in this genus perform a little trick known as "heliotropism." In the morning, before the sun rises, the plants wailt eagerly facing the rising sun in the east. They follow the sun through the sky all day and watch it set in the west. Here’s the really neat part– After the sun sets, they face the east again to wait for morning. No wonder the Aztec used them as a symbol for their sun god.
The genus Helianthus consists of 2-12 foot tall perennial and annual plants with coarse, sticky leaves and daisy-like flowers that are 3-12 inches across. Colors vary from yellows, oranges, and reds to mahogany, browns, and purples. They usually bloom in the late summer to early fall.
You make want to grow your own sunflowers. The plants are beautful and they would make a great addition to any garden. Sunflower seeds are delicious and great for you, and you can get many seeds from just a few sunflower plants. For annuals, sow the flower seeds outdoors about 1/2" deep and 2-4 feet apart after the last frost has passsed. For perennials, germinate the seeds indoors during late winter, and place them in a cool location at night. Remember to keep them moist. After about two months they should be ready for the garden.
Take a look at a couple of our perennial sunflowers that you can purchase right now. Sunflower Marc’s Apollo Has big bright 4 inch blooms and ships in a 1 gallon pot. Sunflower Sun Gold has bis fluffy 5 inch blooms and ships in a 3-inch pot.