Flowers, Plant Care, Plant Profiles, Pollinators, Summer Gardening

Sunflowers: A Gardener’s Guide and Plant Profile

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Learn all about Sunflowers in this gardener’s guide of these beautiful summer flowers, including plant care, companion plants, medicinal uses, and more.


Sunflower plants


Have you ever wanted to grow your own sunflowers? You should, especially if you’re into history.

Sunflowers may have been cultivated as early as 3000 BC by the American Indians of (present-day) Arizona and New Mexico, according to scientific evidence.

Used for everything from food products to dyes to ornamentals, this flower is as versatile as it is mysterious. And, don’t even get us started on its’ ability to attract pollinators! In our Sunflower plant guide below, you’ll learn that you can plant sunflowers and take care of them like a pro.


Quick Plant Care Facts

Sun ExposureFull sun
Water NeedsRegular to lots of watering.
Soil NeedsMoist and, enriched soil.
Cold-Hardiness ZonesUSDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
Bloom Time Summer and into fall.
Flower ColorsYellow, white, red, and other colored ray-flowers (perimeter petals). Colored-rays around the edge with a brown center of cushioned seeds.
Mature Height/WidthThe tallest can grow 10 feet high and 2 feet wide, where the smallest can grow 4 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide. Flowers range in size from 4 to 10 inches wide.
Plant SpacingPlant seeds in the spring at least 1 foot between each plant and for the larger sizes make it 2 feet apart.


Become a Plant Profile Club member here, if you want more sunflower plant care information than this!


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If you’re already lucky enough to have these beautiful plants in your garden but you are unsure how to best care for them, this post will teach you the skills you’ll need. Or, if you are new to gardening and want to add these to your landscape but you’re scared you might kill them with your black thumb, don’t worry. This post will give you the confidence you need to grow and care for them.

Read on to learn more about the history, common characteristics and more fun facts about this sunny plant.

By the way, this post is meant for beginner gardeners but can be used by anyone who wants to learn more about this plant. We hope it’s helpful!


Let’s get started on your journey to better coneflower plant care and understanding!


The pruning shears we are recommending are best for any plant material that measures up to an inch in diameter and the ones we’ve been using for years! We love them and think they’d be perfect for your flower garden!


In a hurry? Pin it for later!!


Sunflowers: Why We’re Featuring These Plants For You

First of all, why not?

Sunflowers are beautiful, playful, and exude happiness. They grow in a variety of heights, sizes, and colors so they are bound to be tons of options available to plant in your garden.

One mysterious fact is that sunflowers actually turn their face toward the sun and follow it throughout the day. Sounds like a great way to spend a day if you ask us. The science behind this phenomenon is quite interesting as well because scientists are not really sure why sunflowers behave this way. We think they do it because they can.

Another reason we love sunflowers is their versatility. They can be cultivated and grown for their seeds, their oil, or just for their beauty. Plus, pollinators love sunflowers! Bees will land on the giant heads and get covered in pollen which they carry on to other sunflowers. Furthermore, at the end of the growing season, birds will eat the seeds and spread them around.

Finally, we chose the sunflower for our plant profile due to its summer bloom time in our USDA zone 8b. The large, sunny blooms are equally welcomed by both us and the pollinators.

Perfect for either the beginner or busy gardener, sunflowers are uncomplicated. While not asking for much, they are a low-maintenance, beautiful addition to any garden that will brighten your day. Plus, the pollinators love them!


You can find more of sunflower care needs, when it flowers, its uses, and more by becoming a Plant Profile Club member.


Sunflower Plants: History and Uses

As you begin your journey to understand more about sunflowers, a good place to start is to first learn about their large family group, their history, and their uses. Read on below for more!


Asteraceae Family

Sunflowers are in the massive plant family Asteraceae. Also known as the daisy family, this family group has more than 20,000 species of flowering plants throughout the world!

The daisy family features some of the most popular flowers in the world including quite a few you have probably heard of before. A quick fun fact is a unique characteristic every member of this family shares. The flowers in this family group are actually made up of two types of flowers, not just one. Each flower you see is composed of one or more rows of “Ray” flowers on the perimeter/edge and the “Disk” flowers in the center. Think of a typical daisy, like a Shasta daisy, they have the white petals (the “rays”) and the yellow centers are actually another flower (the “discs”). Interesting, huh?

Daisy family members are valued for a range of uses, including:

  • Cut flowers
  • Ornamental gardens
  • Cooking oils
  • Herbal teas
  • Other medicinal uses

Other members of the large Asteraceae family include Shasta daisies, coneflowers (Echinacea), Blanket flowers, Zinnias, asters, Black-Eyed Susans, Chrysanthemums, and Lettuce to name a few (of the many)!


Sunflower History

Evidence suggests the sunflower was cultivated around 3000 BC by Native Americans living in present-day Arizona and New Mexico.

According to the National Sunflower Association, sunflowers may have been domesticated prior to even corn!

Sunflowers were used by the Native American tribes for several purposes. Apparently, it was a common crop that was domesticated and cultivated for use as in dyes, oils for skin and hair, ointments for snake bites, cooking, and baking. In addition, sunflowers were baked into bread and mixed with other vegetables for food, used in ceremonies, and used as a building material after drying their flower stalks. Talk about versatility!

Sunflowers are well-traveled. Like we stated above, they originated in North America as early as 3000 BC.

In the early 1500s, they were discovered and brought to Europe by Spanish explorers. In the early 1700s, English gardeners had the first patent granted to squeeze or extract oil from the sunflower seeds.

Following that, Russia got a hold of the sunflowers and began commercializing them for mass cultivation in the 1800s.

Eventually, they made their way back to North America where today they are mostly grown as cut flowers and for their many uses.


Sunflower Care and Plant Profile  

Now that you’ve learned a bit of background information about this amazing plant, it’s time to present you with a guide to sunflower plant care to get you started with the basics.

Then, keep scrolling to learn more about specific companion plants, plant care tools, and books for further education.



You can find more of sunflower care needs, when it flowers, its uses, and more by becoming a Plant Profile Club member.



Sunflower Companion Plants   

Sunflowers have lots of friends but since they’re so tall, they need friends who thrive in the shade, both edible and non-edible.

Sunflowers and most of the companion plants listed below will add color and a continuous supply of beneficial food sources to your landscape. Meaning, the pollinators love them. They will flock to your garden which is a HUGE bonus.

You really cannot go wrong with a companion for your sunflowers. It simply boils down to your individual preference and color choice.


Companion plants to consider:

  • Shasta Daisies
  • Crocosmia
  • Vinca
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Snapdragons
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Shasta daisies
  • Goldenrod
  • Lilies
  • Roses
  • Forsythia
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Squash



A large, yellow sunflower in front of a field of sunflowers are the highlight of this sunflower plant profile.

Sunflower plant profile


Plant Care Supplies

Now that you have picked out your seeds or live plants, you need the proper tools for caring for them.

This is a crucial step along your journey to great coneflower plant care, almost as important as choosing the plants themselves. The question is do you have all the tools you need?

If not, below are some recommendations to specific tools we use that will support your sunflower plant maintenance.


1) For Planting 

Hand Trowel



2) For Watering

Garden Hose

You’ll need some type of garden hose for your plants and this is one of the highest-rated on Amazon from Flexzilla. It is flexible, durable, and comes in multiple lengths for whatever size your yard.

Watering Wand


Water Timer

Here’s a huge time-saving tip, set up a drip hose and a water timer so you don’t have to waste time, water, or money hand watering your plants.

We love this water timer by Orbit because it is easy to set up, has a manual override option for when you need your hose, and features two hose attachments which is awesome.



3) For Deadheading or Trimming

Pruning Shears

You will need a good, sturdy pair of pruning shears and these are the best in our opinion! These pruning shears from Corona are super sharp and stay sharp.

These would be perfect for deadheading, snipping, or other general light pruning tasks. We use ours all the time!


Flower Books 

If you’re looking for further educational resources about all types of plants, these books below are great educational references!

American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers

This is a great reference guide for tons of plants from the American Horticultural Society.

Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms

This book has stunning images, how-tos, and planting information to grow your own cutting garden.

Or, if you need to shop for other garden plants for this summer or fall, click here to find what you need!




Conclusion about Sunflowers

As you have read above, coneflowers are perfect additions to any garden for so many reasons.

Even with its interesting history and versatility, the sunflower remains simple. All it wants is a good view of the sun and a little bit of maintenance.

Now it is time to hear from you!

What more do you want to learn about sunflowers? Do you have any questions that still need answering?

Leave a quick comment below and let us know!



Want to learn about other plants in your garden? Check out some of our previous plant profiles:


See you in the garden!

~ Sean and Allison


P.S. Find us on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram so you don’t miss a thing!



Sunflower Plant References: 



Sunflowers with text overlay advertised in Spoken Garden's plant profile post.

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Learn all about Sunflowers in this gardener’s guide of these beautiful summer flowers, including plant care, companion plants, medicinal uses, and more.



About spokengarden

HELLO AND WELCOME! We are Sean and Allison of Spoken Garden. With combined backgrounds in horticulture, gardening, landscape, and teaching, we hope to educate and inspire you.

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