How to grow sunflowers and cook sunflower seeds

The sunflower has a rich history as a North American native plant.

Records show that Native Americans lived as early as 3000 BC. cultivated sunflowers for food and pressed seeds for oil production. Although still used for these purposes today, gardeners also use sunflowers as ornamentals, either in the landscape or as cut flowers, and to attract birds or squirrels.

Are there different varieties of sunflowers?

Breeding has developed cultivars ranging from 15 inches to 12 feet tall and in colors of yellow, white, red, and bronze. This selection gives even the smallest garden the opportunity to grow a sunflower. Dwarf varieties like Pacino, Big Smile, and Music Box Mix are bushy, with multiple flower heads on each stem, and grow to less than 3 feet tall. These are great for planters or mixed borders.

During an early morning harvest, Laura Feldman Rideout of Feldman Farms cuts sunflower stalks for freshly cut bouquets to be sold at the Henderson Farmers Market on Saturday July 18, 2020.

If you have more space, try to grow the 8 feet tall H. bismarkianus, And H. Citrine, or the 12 foot tall H. giganteus as background image. As a bonus, the larger varieties generally offer the widest range of colors.

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