The Wild Sunflower is the ancestor of the cultivated sunflowers that are grown in gardens. It is easy to grow and it gets lots of yellow flowers. Helianthus annuus is native to dry plains, prairies, meadows and foothills in the western U.S., Canada and northern Mexico. It is a leafy, fast-growing annual that typically grows 5-10’ tall on stiff upright stalks. The species is seen growing wild along roads, fences and fields. It has 3-6” wide sunflowers with orange-yellow rays and brown to purple center disks. Flowers bloom in summer. Disk flowers give way to the familiar sunflower seeds. Large, ovate to triangular, sandpapery leaves to 12” long. Sunflowers have become very popular commercial cut flowers throughout the world. Cultivated varieties are also commercially grown for their edible seeds which are used in livestock feed, as birdseed and for cooking oils. Annual. Easily grown in average, moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates poor soils that are on the dry side. Plant seed in the garden after last frost date.
- Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Put the seeds on the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the seeds.
- Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.