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Helianthus annuus

This genus contains annuals and perennials native to North, Central, and South America. Sunflowers are generally coarse plants with simple, bristly leaves. Their showy flowers are daisy-shaped and, thanks to many cultivars, come in shades of yellow, orange, red, cream, purple, and bronze.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsShowy, daisy-shaped flowers in a vast array of sunny colors, forms, and sizes. Good in borders, annual beds, cutting gardens, and wildlife plantings.

CareSunflowers need full sun and fertile, moist but well-drained soil. They flower best during long, hot summers. Most will tolerate drier conditions, but some species thrive in moist soil. Stake if needed.

PropagationSow seeds of annuals in late winter indoors or in situ in spring. Sow seeds of perennials in a cold frame in spring. Divide perennials in spring or fall, or root basal cuttings in spring.

ProblemsDowny mildew, powdery mildew, canker, rust, and fungal leaf spots are common. Be on the lookout also for caterpillars, cutworms, beetles, and weevils.

Species and cultivars

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Winter Interest

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