Reaching toward the heavens, and always following the path of the sun, the sunflower is instantly recognizable and a beloved flower by many. The sunflower was prized by Native Americans as a food crop, for its ornamental uses, and because of its medicinal properties. Sunflowers are valued for their beautiful petals, edible seeds, and regal presence in gardens. But just how tall can they grow?
Most sunflowers grow between 6 and 10 feet in height, but giant varieties can grow as tall as 15 to 20 feet. The tallest sunflower documented by world records reached a staggering height of 30 feet and 1 inch tall! Depending on the variety of sunflower, the sky is the limit on this beautiful plant.
Whether you choose to grow sunflowers indoors in a colorful container or plant a variety of this gorgeous flower in your outdoor garden, these flowers can quickly tower over other plants. Keep reading to learn more about how tall sunflowers can grow, how to care for sunflowers, and which species of sunflowers are the best fit for your home.
Saluting The Sun In Style
The sunflower has enjoyed a long history with humanity, as the flower was believed to be domesticated as a crop before corn by the Native Americans since 3,000 B.C. Beyond being treasured for ornamental purposes, Russia helped commercialize the sunflower for human consumption, dying textiles, and for its oil.
Gardners enjoy raising sunflowers because they are fairly resistant to pests and heat, and they grow quickly. Known as Helianthus annus, sunflowers can be grown outdoors to create living privacy walls, are raised for their seeds, and they also provide a welcome space for pollinating bees and birds. The sunflower thrives in zones 2-11 and comes in a variety of types ranging from dwarfs to giants.
Some varieties of sunflowers that you may be interested in growing include, but are not limited to the "Rusian Mammoth" and the "Teddy Bear". Sunflowers may be either annual or perennial, and their petals range in hues of yellow, red, purple, orange, and even bronze. Read on, and discover some fascinating tidbits about sunflowers and their growth.
What Is The Tallest Type Of Sunflower?
Growing tall sunflowers are a delight to children and adults alike, and many competitive gardeners enjoy vying for the title of having grown the tallest sunflower at fairs and local events. There are more than a few varieties of sunflowers that are naturally prone to becoming living towers. Here are some of the tallest sunflowers:
- Giant American Hybrid: Reaches a stunning 10 to 16 feet in height on average.
- Russian Mammoth: Grows between 9 and 12 feet in height with flower heads measuring 14 inches.
- Skyscraper: These regal sunflowers reach between 12 and 14 feet with flower heads measuring 16 inches across.
To thrive best, most sunflowers require a minimum of 8 hours of bright, direct sunlight, loose soil that is fairly alkaline with a pH of 7.5, and they need plenty of room for their roots to spread. Cultivate impressive sunflowers by planting at the most opportune time, utilizing fertilizer, and watering as needed. The more space you can give a sunflower to spread, the taller it can grow.
How To Grow Giant Sunflowers
Many gardeners and green thumbs feel a tremendous sense of pride when they manage to grow sunflowers reaching 10 feet or higher. If you want to grow giant sunflowers, there are a few things you'll need to do. First off, you'll want to select a variety of sunflowers that have tall genes. Choose sunflowers like Paul Bunyan, Sunzilla, Pike's Peak, Kong Hybrid, or Mammoth Greystripe.
Next, giant sunflowers need a lot of full sunshine to fully blossom and reach for the sky, with plenty of space for their roots to spread. Dwarf varieties of sunflowers love living in containers, but a giant sunflower needs loose soil that is free of rocks, obstacles and is well-draining.
The roots of a sunflower need plenty of space to grow vertically and horizontally, so keep them away from other flowers or plants that might crowd their space. Give giant sunflowers at least 36 inches of space or more to establish themselves.
What's The Tallest Sunflower Ever Recorded?
According to the Guinness World Records, the tallest sunflower documented measured 30 feet and 1 inch in height and was grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer in Karst, Germany. The towering sunflower was recorded on August 28, 2014.
Mr. Schiffer is no stranger to this record, as he was the previous record-holder for the tallest sunflower twice before. He credited his success with playing around with different types of sunflowers for many years.
What Is the Smallest Type of Sunflower?
Unlike giant or super-tall varieties of sunflowers that need plenty of physical support to grow high, dwarf sunflowers are a pleasure to grow indoors and outside. Many gardeners enjoy cultivating dwarf sunflowers to cut and display, and the blooms last a long time. Check out the following varieties and enjoy miniature sunflowers for their color and beauty.
- Elf: Grows to a maximum of 14 inches and is perfect for kids' gardens and is adored by butterflies.
- Firecracker: Semi-dwarf variety that thrives in containers and reaches 90 cm in height.
- Teddy Bear: Edible and ornamental flower that reaches a maximum of 24 inches in height with long-lasting blooms.
Depending on whether you are growing sunflowers for ornamental uses, floral arrangements, or for food, choose your variety wisely. Some dwarf sunflowers thrive better indoors, while others are better suited for outdoor gardens.
How Long Does It Take To Grow A Sunflower?
Sunflower seeds sprout and provide nutrition within 7 to 10 days, but these golden sun-loving beauties can reach maturity and heights of 10 feet and beyond after 80 to 120 days.
Depending on the variety of sunflower you choose to grow, the growing conditions, and how often they are fed and watered, the results will vary. Sunflowers are fast-growing plants and should get adequate attention to produce beautiful blooms, encourage plenty of seeds, and reach an impressive height.
How Much Does A Sunflower Grow A Week?
How much a sunflower grows each week depends on whether it is a dwarf or hybrid giant. A sunflower that reaches an average of 6 feet at maturity would grow about 2 inches a week. Sunflowers deplete the soil of nutrients and require regular feeding, watering, and plenty of sunlight to reach their full potential, and they thrive best outside of containers and directly in the soil.
How To Make Your Sunflowers Taller
Sunflowers that grow to dizzying heights require plenty of nutrients to thrive, so it is essential for the soil to be well-draining and properly fertilized. Enthusiastic gardeners should not only choose a variety of sunflowers that naturally reaches 10 feet or higher but should also treat the soil with organic fertilizer, compost, and plant food. Keep in mind, there are plenty of easy ways to help your sunflowers grow as tall as possible.
Grow the tallest sunflowers in loose, well-draining, slightly alkaline soil, with room for roots to grow vertically and horizontally. Make sure the sunflowers get 8 hours of sunlight a day, and water and fertilize your sunflowers regularly.
Avoid growing sunflowers in containers and sow the seeds directly in the soil between late May and early June for the best results. As sunflowers grow up, provide support for the stalks, and protect against root rot and windy conditions.
Before you go, be sure to check out these other gardening guides: