Helianthus annuus

Family: Asteraceae

Countries: Americas, Canada, Central America, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, North America, Panama, South America, United States

Helianthus annuus, also known by their common name of sunflowers, are tall growing annuals with very large, round flower heads with brown centres and yellow outer petals, which are very attractive to bees and butterflies.  The flower heads of Helianthus annuus turn to face the sun, they slowly turn as the sun moves throughout the day.  Helianthus annuus grow best when planted in a very sunny spot.

The flower buds of Helianthus annuus can be eaten when young, they have a taste similar to that of globe artichokes, but with a stronger flavour.  The seeds of Helianthus annuus are a popular food for birds, and for people too.  Sunflower oil is extracted from the seeds of Helianthus annuus.

There are a wide variety of cultivated forms of sunflower available, from the tallest giant sunflowers, to the tiniest sunflower plants, which are idea for window boxes!  You can also grow a range of different coloured flower forms of this fabulous and fun to grow plant – in colours from: yellow, orange, red, brown, pink, and white.

In the UK, we sow Helianthus annuus seeds outdoors in April and May.   If you have an unheated glasshouse, you could sow Helianthus annuus seeds in February and March and then harden your plants off gradually in May.

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