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12 Striking Facts about Sunflowers

Sunflowers are one of the best-loved blooms on the planet. They are a sign of happiness and that warm weather is on the way! Of course, they are often the subjects of many paintings and photos, too.

But how much do you really know about the humble sunflower? It’s time to check out these fun facts about Sunflowers – some of which may surprise you…

1. Sunflower seeds have two varieties.

When growing sunflowers, you will largely find that there are two different types of seed. Some are black and some are white, both with stripes. The black seeds are likely to give you more oil, whereas grey and white seeds are ideal for snacking.

2. The clue’s in the name!

Sunflowers, as you can expect, need a lot of solar energy and power. You’ll probably need to give your sunflowers a direct blast of natural light up to eight hours each day.

In fact, you will likely find that sunflowers grow taller than most blooms because it needs to stretch up for maximum sunlight.

3. They grow towards the light.

Sunflowers track and face the sun more keenly than any other flower. They will turn and face the sun, often choosing to fix East as they grow, making sure they are always pointing in the direction of the most light.

sunflowers in bloom


4. Sunflowers help us clean up the earth.

Sunflowers are fantastic for helping to maintain healthy soil. In fact, thanks to their anti-toxic nature, they were used to help clean up after disasters such as the Chernobyl power plant meltdown.

5. They love bees, and bees love them!

Bees and sunflowers go hand in hand. A sunflower’s massive head is likely to be very attractive to average bees looking for pollen, meaning that many beekeepers will plant and cultivate sunflowers for the sake of keeping up hive numbers.

6. Sunflowers may have spread from Russia.

It’s thought that the biggest sunflowers first made their way to the USA from Russia around 200 years ago. Since that time, the US has continued to develop a lucrative sunflower oil industry with help of its native plants.

7. We use them in medicine and in cooking.

Sunflowers have been an ideal medicinal choice for centuries. In fact, you can trace the use of flower leaves and oil for chest and kidney pain across North and Central America.

8. There’s a phobia of sunflowers.

Some people have a fear of sunflowers, and believe it or not, there is a name for it – helianthophobia.

9. A tall order!

It’s thought that the tallest sunflower of all time, grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer, stood at over 30 feet in height!

Sunflower fields

10. One sunflower is actually many.

Sunflowers are actually huge flower colonies, not just one species. It’s a floral hive!

Scores of tiny flowers make up the heads of sunflowers, and they can produce seeds – as well as self-pollinate. That’s helped by the fact that sunflowers are both male and female simultaneously.

11. In space, no one can hear you… grow sunflowers?!

There are sunflowers in space. Not naturally, of course – but there are seeds that are thought to be up in the International Space Station.

12. No, sunflowers aren’t predatory.

It’s a common myth that sunflowers kill or stifle other plants. If you find that there is a lot of space around your sunflowers without other growths, it will likely be because seeds have fallen there, and the soil needs clearing.

a field of sunflowers

FAQs about Sunflowers

Are sunflowers perennial?

Sunflowers can self-germinate, but on the whole, they tend to last one year of growth. It’s worth topping up your seeds!

How long do sunflowers last?

Believe it or not, the average sunflower is only ever likely to last less than two weeks from seed..

Are sunflowers easy plants to grow?

Yes, on the whole - they are very persistent, and you can pretty much leave them to their own devices.

Do you know any fun facts about sunflowers? Share them in the comments below!

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This page was last modified on August 3, 2023. Suggest an edit

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