Wild Sunflowers 101 – What, Why, and How To GROW! – GrowIt BuildIT

Our illustrated guide is about growing and caring for wild sunflowers. The original sunflower was domesticated 1000 years ago by Native Americans. All of the other annual sunflowers come from the plant.

I have put this article into the following topics. You can go to that section if you are looking for a quick reference.


What is the name of the bird ?

Wild Sunflower has a peak bloom period of one month in full sun with well drained soil and is a showy multi-bloomed and branching plant. It is a plant that attracts bees, butterflies, and birds during the summer months.

The table is called Wild Sunflower.

Scientific Name Helianthus Annus
Common Names Wild Sunflower, Wild Yellow Sunflower, Common Sunflower, Native Sunflower, Wild Native Sunflower
Height 3-9′ (1-3 m)
Spacing 1-3′ (30 cm – 100 cm)
Sunlight Full sun
Soil Type Clay, loam, sand
Soil Moisture Slightly moist to slightly dry (is partially drought tolerant)
Bloom Time & Duration Late Summer, 4-week super bloom. Sporadic continuous blooming until Autumn
Bloom Color Yellow
Larval Host None, but several caterpillars feed on foliage
Native Range North America
Zone Not Hardy. Annual Flower
Notes: Attracts bees, butterflies, and birds

The Benefts are wild.

There are many benefits to Wild Sunflower. It provides a bloom of yellow flowers that lasts a month, as well as feeding dozens of beneficial insects. Butterflies are attracted to other plants. The best plant to attract birds to your yard is Wild Sunflower.

The best of sunflowers.

Over a 3-4 week period, each Wild Sunflower plant will have 50 blooms. It provides a lot of color for a long time.

It only lasts for about a week before it begins to rot. Only a week of bloom for all that growth.

There are tons of bees.

You need to grow Wild Sunflower to attract bees. The bees pollinate Wild Sunflower. The most important bees are mason, digger, leaf-cutter, and bumble bees. Smaller bees also play a roll.

A field of Wild Sunflower can seem like a lot of money for a beekeeper.

Other insects like Wild Sunflower.

Did you know that butterflies and skippers also visit the plant ?

Some of the yellow petals have insect damage. This does n’t make me unhappy. I know that I am feeding beneficial insects that are part of our fragile environment.

Birds are attracted to Wild Sunflower.

The plants are swaying under the weight of birds. Birds love to eat seeds. I took a few pictures of finches eating the seed.

There is a fight between Wild Sunflower and Sunflower.

The number of blooms and size of the blooms are the main differences between the two. WildSunflower will produce dozens of blooms, 2-5′′ diameter, while normalSunflower will produce a single, huge bloom. Wild sunflowers will branch more frequently than regular ones.

There are a number of differences between Wild Sunflower and cultivated sunflowers. I have listed them in a table.

Wild Sunflower Sunflower
Height 3-10′ 8-12′
Spread 3′ 2′
Bloom Size 2″-5″ 10″-12″
No. Blooms 5-50 1
Blooming Season 4 weeks, mid-Summer 1 week, mid-Summer

Black Eyed Susan vs Wild Sunflower.

Both Black Eyed Susan and Wild Sunflower have flowers with black centers. There are certain species of Black Eyed Susan that bloom at the same time as Wild Sunflower.

Black Eyed Susan and Wild Sunflower are very different. The blooms of Black Eyed Susan are small, 1-3′′ in diameter. Wild Sunflower blooms are usually 4-6′′ in diameter.

Black Eyed Susan plants are only 2 to 4 feet tall. Wild Sunflower plants are usually 4-7 feet tall. Black Eyed Susan is only 1-2 feet wide, while a fully branched Wild Sunflower is 5′ wide.

There is a wild bird identification.

Depending on sunlight and growing conditions, wild sunflowers can grow up to 10 feet tall. As they branch many times up the stalks, they are also wide.

The Sunflower Stalk is wild.

The Stalk of Wild Sunflower is red and hairy. It will be stiff and erect.

The leaves of the wild sunflowers are identified.

The leaves of Wild Sunflower are much larger than the base. The leaf is either tear-drop shaped or lanceolate in shape. The edges will be saw-toothed.

There is a bloom of wild sunflowers.

The daisy-like appearance of the Bloom of Wild Sunflower is due to the large amount of yellow petals. As the amount of genetic variation is vast with this species, you can find larger or smaller blooms. The showy bloom period lasts one month beginning in mid-Summer. There will be sporadic blooms until a hard frost.

The flower period of Wild Sunflower lasts about a week or two per bloom, and then the petals will fall off. It takes approximately one month for seed production to begin. As the finches feed on the seeds as soon as they are palatable, you will know when they are ready.

The care and growing conditions of wild sunflowers.

There are requirements for Sunlight in Wild Sunflower.

The Wild Sunflower likes full sun for at least 6 hours per day. It can tolerate some shade. The plant will not be as large or showy in partial shade.

There are requirements for the soil of Wild Sunflower.

The preference is fertile. In clay, rocky, or sandy loam, Wild Sunflower can grow just fine.

Wild Sunflower can grow in moist and dry conditions. Make sure the soil is draining well.

There are problems with wild sunflowers.

The leaves of the wild Sunflower are turning yellow.

The lower leaves of Wild Sunflower can fall off. If the plant has been through a dry spell, this is normal.

If the leaves turn yellow, it ‘s usually a sign of over-watering or a general deficiency. If you want to address the watering, either stop watering or test your drainage rate. Top-dress the plant with compost to address the deficiency.

Mildew is on Wild Sunflower.

Powdery Mildew can affect Wild Sunflower late in the season. Look at the leaves for a white powdery symptom. Mildew will not harm the plant. It occurs late in the season after the plant is beyond the super bloom.

There are deer, rabbits, and wild sunflowers.

The deer and rabbits will be looking at the flowers. Rabbits will eat young plants. Deer will eat them all the time.

I have eaten the stem of tall sunflowers prior to their bloom. The plants were 5′ tall and the deer came right up for their midnight snack. It is the easiest way to keep rabbits and deer away from each other.

deer damage sunflowersExamples of deer eating my sunflowers. 🙁  These were about 5′ tall when the deer decided to have a late night snack!

There is a way to keep sunflowers from tipping over.

Over the years, I have found this to be very important. The prairie plants love the open spaces.

The stalks are strengthened against high winds by having access to sunlight from any direction and wind from any direction. I have seen this many times in my yard, the sunflowers that are most exposed to the elements are the strongest and least likely to be damaged by storms/wind.

High winds will knock over the segulls that are planted along a house. The other sunflowers in the open will hold up.

Do Wild Sunflowers need to be fertilized ?

Native sunflowers do not need to be fertilized. I have never fertilized mine except by mixing in some compost when I plant seeds or transplant seedlings.

If you want to win an award for your blooms, then you should fertilize. It should n’t be seen as necessary for a healthy plant. Too much syntheticfertilizer can make plants more susceptible to being knocked over by wind.

The plant can be grown from seed.

It is easy to grow Wild Sunflower from seed or pots. It is easy to grow from seed as there are no special treatments required.

When you should start eating seeds.

The seeds of any kind should be started in the spring. Wild Sunflower seeds will not grow in soil that is less than 50F.

To grow seeds in pots.

  1. The container should be filled with moist soil. The container needs to be 4′′ wide by 4′′ deep. There is a gap at the top.
  2. Place seeds 16′′-18′′ deep.
  3. Put the seed in the soil.
  4. Place somewhere that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. The East side of a house is a good location.
  5. The soil should be moist.
  6. Germination should be done within a few weeks.

The first set of true leaves should have been developed after a few weeks. They can be moved to their final location at this time.

Wild Sunflower Seedling

To direct seeds that are wild.

  1. After your first lawn mowing, prepare an area for planting. Turn the soil if you want to remove the grass.
  2. Plant seeds are about 3 inches deep.
  3. Plant seeds and cover them with dirt.
  4. Make sure the soil is moist.
  5. Germination should happen within 3 weeks.
  6. Chicken wire may be used to cover the area to prevent squirrels from digging up the seed.

Is there a place to buy Wild Sunflower seed ?

A packet of Native Wild Sunflower seed costs a few dollars. The recommended products page has a listing for our favorite seed supplier. Click on the image to view it.

Protect Wild Sunflowers!

Both deer and rabbits like to eat wild sunflowers. I have had animals dig up plants that had just sprouted up. Liquid Fence or cages can be used to protect your seedlings.

The recommended products page shows liquid fence. It is a great product.

How to harvest seeds.

The seed of Wild Sunflower is much smaller than the seeds you buy to eat. It can be hard to know what the seed looks like.

Wild Sunflower Seed – this is what it looks like

The first thing you need to know is that you have to be quick. If you wait, it will be much harder to get seed.

The best way to harvest seeds.

This is the best way to harvest the Wild Sunflower seed. You need to purchase bags to collect seeds. They are linked at the Recommended Products page.

A Wild Sunflower seed head in the mesh bag. Note all the seed that has naturally fallen to the bottom.

These are mesh bags. They are great for collecting seed from a bloom as the bag prevents birds from getting the seed. Once the petals have faded, place the bag over the seed head to use them. Tie off the string. There is a lot of seed in a bag when you return a month later.

There is a general seed head collection.

Do n’t worry if you do n’t have bags. You can still get seeds from the heads. Once the seed heads turn brown, collect them. Take them home and let them dry out in a cool place for a week.

While holding the seed head over the paper plate, rake your hand over the face of the seed head. Anything to get the remaining seed.

There is a separation of Wild Sunflower seed from the chaff.

Put your mixture on the paper plate. Blow on the plate when you raise it near your face. The large seeds will stay on the plate.

The chaff separation in action! Note the mess just beyond the plate, and all the heavy seeds at the bottom of the plate. This method really works.

You can do this outdoors, but I prefer indoors. Strong winds blow the seed of the plate as well. On a quiet day, do it indoors or outside.

The Wild Sunflower has uses.

Garden uses of wild sunflowers

Wild Sunflowers can be used in a variety of garden settings. They look great as a focal point or single specimen. A showy yellow display can only be put on by 3-4 plants.

If you have border gardens, ditches, prairies, and meadow, then Wild Sunflower would be right at home.

Is Wild Sunflower Invasive ?

There is a highly disturbed soil area. The plant is native to the state and is listed as a noxious weed.

Wild Sunflower will release chemicals via its roots to stop the growth of other plants. At a minimum, Wild Sunflower has instict tendencies.

The parts of wild sunflowers areedible.

The seeds of Wild Sunflower can be eaten, raw or cooked. It ‘s understandable why Native Americans liked this plant because of it ‘s high fat content.

The leaves can be boiled and eaten. Buds of flowers can be steamed. There is a way to make a tea out of wild Sunflower roots.

There are Native American uses of Wild Sunflower.

Native Americans used Wild Sunflower a lot. There are over 80 uses by 25 tribes. The seeds were prized and highly valued with food being the primary use. Some of the uses are listed here.

  • Seeds are used as food.
  • Oil from seed is used in body paint.
  • The petals were used as a yellow dye.
  • There is juice applied to lacerations.
  • The seeds can be eaten, baked as cakes, or made into bread.
  • It can be made into a flute or whistle.
  • The stalks could be made into bird snares.
  • It is used as a Disinfectant.

Is it possible to spread sunflowers ?

native sunflowers

An annual sunflower plant will not spread by itself. The plant will die when there is a hard frost.

They will self seed the next year. I planted two native Wild Sunflowers in my vegetable garden. I had around 10 volunteers the following year. A single plant can make many volunteers the following year, depending on conditions and how disturbed the soil is.

It is illegal to plant or sell seed in Iowa because it is a noxious weed. I do n’t understand how a native plant can be made illegal by the state. Why do n’t you outlaw a native plant ?

You can find our channel here.

You can grow it and build it.

Want to read more ?

The photos of some of our sunflowers can be purchased in digital form. com/shop/GrowitBuildit

Joe Foster is a man.

I grew up in nature. I got my first job at a garden center when I was in high school. I ‘ve been growing plants for over six years. I hope to share my knowledge with you. I like to design/build projects with hand tools. I hope to give you some useful information.

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Category: Flower

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