30 Different Types of Sunflowers with Basic Care Requirements for the Plants

Sunflowers are flowering herbs belonging to the genus Helianthus, with the Greek word literally being derived from ‘helios’ meaning sun, and ‘anthos’ meaning flower. The common variety is the species of Annuus, known for its bright yellow color and standard height. The blooming time usually starts from the early summer months and continues until the early to mid-autumn season. These plants are primarily categorized into two groups, namely the Annual and Perennial variety. Again, these two broad groups are subdivided into three subgroups or types, namely the Giant, Dwarf, and the Colored type of sunflowers.

Annual Sunflower Varieties

Annual sunflower refers to the common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) that has a number of cultivars and hybrids classified as follows:

 Giant Annual Sunflowers

1) Arikara (Helianthus annuus ‘Arikara’)

Arikara Sunflower

The blossoms are large and double-petaled with vibrant yellow and slight orange at the tips encircling a cocoa-colored center. While the leaves are elliptical to cordate-shaped wide and irregular fuzzy textured. This annual variety does well in low-maintenance. It attracts butterflies, bees, and birds, decorating our backyard landscape with vibrancy. It is also grown for its vitamin-enriched seeds.

Height/Width (cm): 200-300/60-90

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

2) Russian Mammoth (Helianthus annuus ‘Russian Mammoth’)

Russian Mammoth Sunflower

These are an enormous variety of flowers with bright golden-yellowish petals encompassing a deep brown-colored central point. The blossoms usually have a diameter of around 20 to 35 cm. They are also a deer-resistant plant. It typically propagates in a pleasant Mediterranean climate.

Height/Width (cm): 270-360/60-120

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

3) Skyscraper (Helianthus annuus ‘Skyscraper’)

Skyscraper Sunflower

It is one of the loftiest seed-generating sunflower variety growing to more than 10 feet in height. These blossoms grow in erected robust and durable stems generating 14-inch sepals.

Doves, among other birds, love these tall sunflowers due to their height and capacity to generate a great abundance of large edible seeds.

Height/Width (cm): 300-360/60-150

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

4) Sunforest Mix (Helianthus annuus ‘Sunforest Mix’)

Sunforest Mix Sunflower

This massive variety of sunflowers are used as decorative borders. The flowers are intense yellow to brownish with 1-foot in size. Besides, one should remember to keep a gap of around 45-60 cm between the plants to help them to grow more comfortable and quicker with more space.

Height/Width (cm): 300-450/90-100

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

5) American Giant (Helianthus annuus ‘American Giant’)

American Giant Sunflower

It comes foremost amongst the giant type of sunflowers with the most robust and long stems. The blossom is about 30 cm wide with golden-yellowish color and a slight tinge of orange at the tips surrounding a deep brown center.

Height/Width (cm): 240-490/30-90

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

6) Schweinitz’s Sunflower (Helianthus schweinitzii)

Schweinitz’s Sunflower

Among the rarest species of sunflowers, they bloom on an average of 3 to 6 small yellow blossoms occurring in clusters from a single plant with 8 to 15 petals like the sun’s rays. The flowers are 5 to 7 cm in size.  While the leaves are deciduous with a scaley veined kind of structure. The diameter of the leaves is generally between half to one inch.

Height/Width (cm): 100-400/

USDA Hardiness Zone:

Dwarf Annual Sunflowers

1) Suntastic Yellow (Helianthus annuus ‘Suntastic Yellow with Black Center’)

Suntastic Yellow Sunflower

It is an annual dwarf variety showcasing big vibrant yellow blossoms and coffee-brown to black centers. This plant usually grows in bunches of around 5 to 8 flowers, and each flower measures up to 15 cm.

Height/Width (cm): 30-60/20-25

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

2) Sundance Kid (Helianthus annuus ‘Sundance Kid’)

Sundance Kid Sunflower

It has half-double type petals with bicolor shades of red and yellow and a deep chocolate-colored center.  The blossoms are pollen-free and are about 15 cm wide when fully matured. While the leaves are large, green, and spoon-shaped in appearance.

Height/Width (cm): 30-60/0-0

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

3) Pacino (Helianthus annuus ‘Pacino’)

Pacino Sunflower

This dwarf sunflower is also known as dwarf Pacino gold having light-yellow shaded petals with golden-yellowish centers. Several flower heads are generated on each plant and look very attractive. It is a pollen-filled blossom with high in nectar content enticing lots of birds and butterflies.

Height/Width (cm): 30-40/0-30

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

4) Sunny Smile (Helianthus annuus ‘Sunny Smile’)

Sunny Smile Sunflower

These are a table-top hybrid variety of sunflowers, typically tiny in height. This low size aids in growing them quickly in large or small containers. The blossoms rise from robust stems displaying golden-orangish petals encircling a deep coffee-colored sizeable central disk.

Height/Width (cm): 15-50/30-40

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

5) Little Becka (Helianthus annuus ‘Little Becka’)

Little Becka Sunflower

This unique pollen-free sunflower adds a tinge of vividness to one’s backyard by generating spectacular crimson-red and yellowish tint both at the tips and at the outer portion of the petals. The flowers are about 15 cm in diameter.

Height/Width (cm): 30-90/30-40

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

6) Teddy Bear (Helianthus annuus ‘Teddy Bear’)

Teddy Bear Sunflower

It is one of the best fast-growing sunflower variety, also known as the Golden Bear. The plant produces blooms in golden-yellowish color and fuzzy-type feathery texture. Moreover, the blossoms are a dual variety type about 12 cm across. Besides, the leaves are broad and elliptical-shaped.

Height/Width (cm): 60-90/30-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

7) Elf (Helianthus annuus ‘Elf’)

Elf Sunflower

This annual sunflower is the shortest variety among all other types. The blossoms are intense yellowish-golden in color, single or double petalled with slightly dark central points.

Height/Width (cm): 35-40/10-15

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

8) Music Box (Helianthus annuus ‘Music Box’)

Music Box Sunflower

A dwarf variety blooming in abundance has bi-colored petals of the golden-yellow speckled inner circle with a brownish-cream outside, encircling a cocoa-brown toned central disc. The diameter of the charming flower is about 10-12 cm.

Height/Width (cm): 60-90/15-20

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

Colored Annual Sunflowers

1) Chianti (Helianthus annuus ‘Chianti’)

Chianti Sunflower

It is one of the duskiest colored pollen-free sunflowers with dark burgundy hued petals spotted with slight yellowish-tones in the outer portion of the petals.

Height/Width (cm): 120-150/7-10

USDA Hardiness Zone:

2) Earthwalker (Helianthus annuus ‘Earthwalker’)

Earthwalker Sunflower

These attractive hybrid varieties of sunflowers have lovely hue of deep clayish-orange outer petals with specks of golden inner hues encircling a dark black yellow-spotted center.

Height/Width (cm): 180-280/20-25

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

3) Ms Mars (Helianthus annuus ‘Ms. Mars’)

Ms Mars Sunflower

This eye-popping dwarf sunflower has exquisite red to purplish toned inner petals and off-whitish tones towards the outside portion of the petals encompassing a cocoa-brown center with a slight yellowish tinge.

Height/Width (cm): 50-75/45-60

USDA Hardiness Zone:

4) Strawberry Blonde (Helianthus annuus ‘Strawberry Blonde’)

Strawberry Blonde Sunflower

It is a branching sunflower with a colorful display of multihued inner petals of pink-rose with a yellowish tinge and outer petals of off-whitish color enveloping a dark black center. The blossoms are around 12 to 15 cm in diameter. While the leaves are elliptical and spear-shaped.

Height/Width (cm): 120-180/90-150

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

5) Moulin Rouge (Helianthus annuus ‘Moulin Rouge’)

Moulin Rouge Sunflower

The exotic pollen-free hybrid sunflower has a fantastic shade of coral-red petals and a dark maroon-black center with a slight yellowish tint.

Height/Width (cm): 120-180/50-75

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

6) Floristan (Helianthus annuus ‘Floristan’)

Floristan Sunflower

This annual variety produces bi-colored blossoms with deep ruby-red petals and yellowish-golden tone encompassing a cocoa-brown central disk.

Height/Width (cm): 90-150/30-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

7) Little Tiger (Helianthus annuus ‘Little Tiger’)

Little Tiger Sunflower

It is a variety of pollen-free sunflowers with vibrant reddish-orange petals surrounding a dark chocolate-brown central disk.

Height/Width (cm): 30-60/

USDA Hardiness Zone:

8) Evening Sun (Helianthus annuus ‘Evening Sun’)

Evening Sun Sunflower

It is a quick-developing branching sunflower with elongated cone-shaped leaves. The huge blooms have scarlet-reddish petals with tracts of yellowish shade encompassing a dusky cocoa-toned center. The diameter of the flower is around 20 to 25 cm.

Height/Width (cm): 180-240/60-90

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

9) Italian White (Helianthus ‘Italian White’)

Italian White Sunflower

It is an enticing doubled-petaled sunflower with white petals and light yellowish shades encircling a cocoa-colored center. The lovely blossoms are about 10 to 12 cm in size.

Height/Width (cm): 150-180/30-45

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-10

10) Starburst Lemon Aura (Helianthus annuus ‘Starburst Lemon Aura’)

Starburst Lemon Aura Sunflower

It is a pollen-free branching sunflower with a semi-double star-shaped bursting out petals with off-white to yellow in the outer petals and vibrant yellow in the inner ones. Instead of dark, they have lemony centers. The flower heads are about 9 to 12 cm in diameter.

Height/Width (cm): 120-180/45-60

USDA Hardiness Zone:

Perennial Sunflower Varieties

This moslty consists of other ornamental sunflower species and their hybrids

Giant Perennial Sunflowers

1) Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

Jerusalem Artichoke Sunflower

This charming perennial generates attractive, intense yellow-colored ray-petals with a deep yellow toned dome. The blossoms are 5 to 10 cm in diameter, each one with about 10 to 20 rays.

Height/Width (cm): 180-300/90-150

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

2) Lemon Queen (Helianthus annuus ‘Lemon Queen’)

Lemon Queen Sunflower

It is a lovely branching variety of sunflower has  mild yellow ray-petals surrounding a bright yellow center. The small blossoms cover the entire backyard with dense green-colored leaves. Size of the blossoms measures about 5cm in diameter.

Height/Width (cm): 180-210/60-90

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

3) Maximilian’s Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani)

Maximilian’s Sunflower

It is a tall variety of perennial that dwarfs the neighboring vegetation when it reaches maturity. The plant produces 15 to 20 dazzling yellow ray-petals encircling a deep yellow central dome. Besides, the blossoms are 5 to 7 cm in diameter. While the leaves are fuzzy, dense, and pointed and smoky to green in color.

Height/Width (cm): 90-300/60-120

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

4) Thin-leaved Sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus)

Thin-leaved Sunflower

This plant is also known as Sunshine Daydream and Ten-petaled Sunflower. The blossoms are about 5 to 8 cm across, with 8 to 12 ray-petals encompassing a central yellow disk. This variety sometimes also blooms an attractive double-petaled yellow flower.

Height/Width (cm): 150-180/60-120

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

Dwarf Perennial Sunflower

1) Happy Days (Helianthus ‘Happy Days’)

Happy Days Sunflower

The dwarf mid-sized sunflower produces big daisy-type dual-petaled attractive bright yellow blossoms with intense yellowish centers. The size of the flowers is about 10 cm in diameter.

Height/Width (cm): 30-60/30-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

2) Willow-Leaved Sunflower (Helianthus salicifolius ‘Low Down’)

Willow-Leaved Sunflower

These are wildflowers or herbs, also known as Swamp Sunflower. They are daisy-type blossoms in fountained-clusters of ray-petals in intense yellow color surrounding a deep brownish central disk.

Height/Width (cm): 22-30/30-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Factors to Consider for Growing Sunflowers

Soil Requirements

Sunflower plants grow best in sandy or loamy or clayish type, moist, fertile, but well-drained soil. But you must avoid soggy or waterlogged soils at any cost. The soil should be slightly acidic and a bit alkaline, with a pH of 6 to 7.5. You can develop the soil by digging out a patch of ground about 3 feet in width and 2 feet deep to assure that the soil is not jam-packed. It is crucial to leave about 2 feet of space between the plants when growing multiple.

Water Requirements

Sunflowers need more water than other plants to reproduce. Thus, they should be watered thoroughly every day, especially during the growing season until it is fully established. Water them at the roots, around 3 to 4 inches from the plant. Sunflower plants are drought-tolerant. equipped with densely branched roots, which help it to draw more moisture out of the soil.  But, the regular extensive watering helps the roots to develop proeperly so the plant can grow tall with huge flowers.

Mature plants do well with thorough watering once a week.

Light Requirements

They do best under full sun, and in the scorching summer season. Therefore, provide the plants with at least 6 to 8 hours of continuous sunlight, although more light would not hurt them.

Sunflowers are perfect sunny plants brightening and energizing your backyard with their charming common and hybrid bi-color varieties. The flowers are also an excellent décor item for the interiors, bringing in cheerfulness and motivation. Besides, you can also grow some attractive companion plants with these lovely sunflowers like the enticing flat sea holly or the golden marguerite for generating some contrasting pictographic combinations for your garden or patio.

by | Updated: December 25, 2019



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