Helianthus or decorative sunflower: growing in the open field

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Helianthus or decorative sunflower: growing in the open field
Helianthus or decorative sunflower: growing in the open field

Description of the helianthus plant, rules for planting and caring for ornamental sunflower in the garden, recommendations for reproduction, methods of pest and disease control, interesting notes, species and varieties.

Helianthus (Helianthus) is well known to many under the name Ornamental sunflower or Ornamental sunflower. The plant is part of the rather large family of Asteraceae (Asteraceae), or as it is also called Compositae. The most popular of the genus are such species as the annual sunflower (Helianthus annus - it is also called oil) and the tuberous sunflower (Helianthus tuberosus, which is called Jerusalem artichoke), but they are used in agriculture, it is customary to grow other more spectacular varieties and their varieties in the garden … The homeland of all species (and according to some sources there are about 110 of them, and according to others two hundred units) is the territory of America (in particular, Mexico).

Family name Astral or Compositae
Growing period Perennial or annual
Vegetation form Herbaceous, shrub or semi-shrub
Breeds Seed method or vegetative method - for perennial species
Open ground transplant terms Spring or Autumn
Landing rules Saplings are placed at a distance of 30-40 cm from each other
Priming Good drainability and nutritional value
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 (neutral)
Illumination level Open well-lit area
Humidity level Moderate but regular
Special care rules Fertilizing twice during the growing season
Height options 0.3–3 m
Flowering period July August
Type of inflorescences or flowers Basket inflorescences
Color of flowers Various shades of yellow, white, vanilla, orange, lemon, golden, red-brown, burgundy, chocolate or dark purple
Fruit type Achene
Fruit color Black
The timing of fruit ripening Aug. Sept
Decorative period Spring-autumn
Application in landscape design Flower beds and mixborders, hedge formation, for cutting
USDA zone 4–8

The genus got its name from the fusion of the Latin words "helios" and "anthos", which translate as "sun" and "flower". It turns out the phrase "sun flower" or "flower of the sun", which fully reflects the shape of the inflorescence of the plant and its ability to turn its "head", as if following the movement of the sun in the sky.

In the genus of Helianthus, there is a significant difference between species, that is, species polymorphism. The vegetative form, which this representative of the flora takes, directly depends on this. - herbaceous, shrub or semi-shrub. For the most part, all sunflowers are perennials, but there are those with a life cycle of only one year. All sunny flowers are characterized by a high stem, on which there are rigid leaf plates growing in opposite or alternating order. The stem color can take on various shades of green. The height of the stems also depends on the type of sunflower, so the minimum indicators for dwarf plants are 30 cm, and large varieties are close to the 3-meter mark.

Helianthus flowers are its real dignity and decoration. The inflorescence is represented by a basket formed by ligulate (marginal) and tubular (central) flowers.The size of the inflorescence also depends on the variety, these parameters can vary from small (10 cm) to large (almost 0.5 m) heads. Such inflorescences grow both singly on the stems and can gather in the form of a spreading panicle. The sunflower head has a wrapper that has a wide or hemispherical shape. Such a wrapper is composed of a couple of rows of reed leaves or more. The receptacle in the inflorescence is flat, common, with a more or less bulge present. It is covered with bracts folded along, which are filmy or hard. Along the edge, marginal asexual ligulate flowers are located in one row, while the central part is dotted with tubular bisexual flowers.

The edge petals of sunflower flowers are colored, they can be in a wide variety of shades of yellow color, there are unique varieties with white, vanilla, orange, lemon, golden, red-brown, burgundy, chocolate or even dark purple petals. There are species in which the inflorescence is composed of purely tubular flowers or rows of reed flowers, there are a large number, the structure of the inflorescence is semi-double or double. Since flowers do not have pollen, a bouquet of sunflower inflorescences will not cause an allergic reaction. The flowering process occurs in the period July-August, but the exact timing directly depends on the species. Flowering takes 3-4 weeks. When the fruits begin to ripen, the sunflower inflorescences gradually lean towards the soil.

After pollination occurs, the flowers begin to wilt and crumble, and their place is taken by the ripening fruits of helianthus, which are shaped like achenes. Ripening periods are quite different, but usually they fall on the period after 35-40 days after the end of flowering - from about mid-August to mid-September. Sunflower achenes can have elongated outlines with four edges on the surface or are compressed on both sides. The achene bears 1–2 pairs of collapsing tips or has a pair of large dry leathery scales. The color of the fruit is mainly black or grayish-black, the inside of the seed has a whitish hue. The seeds are distinguished by excellent germination and can be used for sowing even after three years.

The plant is quite easy to grow in our climate and even a novice florist can handle it. For all the hybrid varieties available today, the basis was the wild annual sunflower.

Rules for planting and caring for helianthus in the open field

Helianthus blooms
  1. Landing place it is better to pick up helianthus in an open flower bed so that the plant always has access to direct rays of the sun. In a dense shade, too much extension of the stems is observed and their subsequent lodging. Also, in strong shading, the flowering will not be lush. Since some species have rather high stems, the location is selected for planting warm and protected from the winds. It is important that moisture from precipitation or melting snow does not stagnate on such a flower bed (bed), and you should also not place a sunflower next to nearby groundwater. These factors can cause fungal diseases.
  2. Sunflower soil should be loose and nutritious. If the substrate on the site is heavy or not very fertile, then in the first case, you need to mix river sand into it, and in the second, add peat chips and leaf humus.
  3. Landing helianthus is carried out in spring or autumn. It is clear that this applies only to perennial varieties, since annuals can only be obtained by sowing seeds annually, as described in the section "Reproduction of helianthus with seeds." Perennial plots should be placed at a distance of 30–40 cm so that they can develop normally without taking moisture and food from the ground from their “neighbors”.The acidity should be neutral, within the pH range of 6, 5–7, the plant does not tolerate acidic soils and swampy substrate.
  4. Watering when caring for decorative sunflowers, regular, but at the same time moderate, is necessary. Abundant soil moisture is necessary only for young specimens, so that they quickly grow deciduous mass. Excess moisture, especially in the warm season, can provoke various fungal diseases. But if the amount of precipitation is normal, then such plantings should not be watered. Only if the weather is dry in summer, it is recommended to pour water under the root when the soil begins to dry out.
  5. Fertilizers when growing helianthus, it is recommended to apply it twice during the entire growing season. Since any of the species or varieties of sunflower is characterized by the property of being fixed in the soil by root shoots and receiving nutrition from the underlying layers of the soil. This will help the plants stay beautiful and prolong the flowering time. Both organic and mineral preparations can be used. As the first, complete mineral complexes, like Kemira-Universal, can be used, compost or well-rotted manure can act as organic matter. But, since in nature the plant itself is able to draw out all nutrients from the soil, it is possible not to carry out such feeding, but if they are available, the flowering will be more magnificent and longer.
  6. Wintering. For the winter period of the year, only perennial species of helianthus need shelter. It can be a non-woven material (for example, spunbond) or a piece of roofing material. The soil in the root zone can be mulched with peat chips or bursting leaves.
  7. General advice on care. When the inflorescences of a decorative sunflower begin to dry out, it is recommended to cut them off immediately so that they do not spoil the entire decorative appearance of the bush. Also, removing faded heads will prolong the flowering period. When growing perennial species, it is recommended to separate every 6-7 years. After the gelianthuses have grown on the flower bed, it will be possible to plant only representatives of the Legume family next year, since after sunflowers the soil becomes very depleted and only top dressing can restore it. When the inflorescences began to tilt, this indicates that the ripening of the seed material is approaching. In order to prevent self-seeding, it is recommended to cut off the sunflower caps or tie them with gauze. For varieties with tall stems, there is a need to organize over time a support (for example, pegs), to which they will subsequently be tied. In order for flowering to begin earlier, some gardeners advise plucking out stepchildren and small buds that form under the central inflorescences.
  8. The use of helianthus in landscape design. Since the height of the stems in different species is very different (from 50 cm to 3), then the application can be completely in different areas. So undersized varieties can be grown in pots, in flower beds, along garden paths and as a decoration for borders. Tall plants can hide homestead buildings, plant them in the background of flower beds, or even form hedges through them. It is customary to decorate gardens decorated in a rustic (country) style with sunflower flowers, since large basket inflorescences are in perfect harmony with fences in the form of wattle fences, decor details made of wood or clay, and the like. Well, technical varieties can be grown for the use of fruits in culinary products, as well as use seed material to obtain vegetable fragrant oil.

See also guidelines for growing anacyclus.

Recommendations for the propagation of decorative sunflower

Helianthus in the ground

For the propagation of annual varieties, the seed method should be used, while perennials reproduce vegetatively (by dividing the bush and tubers formed underground).

Reproduction of helianthus using seeds

Sowing is carried out immediately on a prepared flower bed in late spring - around May. Place 2-3 seeds in the hole. This is done in order to obtain at least one suitable seedling. But if several plants appear, then the extra ones can be transplanted to another place. The seeds are buried in the soil by only 2 cm. Then the hole is covered with a substrate and watered. It is better when the distances between the pits are kept within 40 cm, but if the variety does not have branched stems and they grow straight, then this indicator can be reduced slightly. If there is a desire to enjoy the bright flowering of a decorative sunflower before the onset of stable frosts, it is recommended to sow seeds in several passes. The sowing period can be extended from mid-spring to August, with 5-7 days between them.


Due to the fact that sunflower seedlings do not tolerate transplanting well, it is not recommended to grow seedlings.

If the sowing was carried out in a well-heated soil, then the first shoots can be seen after a week.

Reproduction of helianthus by dividing an overgrown bush

recommended for perennial species with the arrival of spring or in autumn days. Such an operation can be performed every couple of years so that the plants do not lose their decorative effect, since over time, the central part can grow, and the lush flowering is strictly reduced. The sunflower bush is dug around the perimeter and pulled out of the ground. This can be done using a garden pitchfork. The root system is cut with a sharpened knife and the cuttings are immediately planted in prepared holes. The distance between plants can be left up to half a meter, so that they have room for growth and the bushes do not take moisture and nutrients from each other from the soil. It is important that each of the plots has a sufficient number of tubers, which will help its better rooting.

Read also about the reproduction of ageratum

Pest and disease control methods for growing helianthus in the garden

Helianthus grows

Despite its large size and external unpretentiousness, the decorative sunflower, like all garden plants, can be affected by diseases that occur in warm weather, when it rains for a long time. Such diseases are various spots, powdery mildew and rot. To cope with the disease, treatment with fungicidal agents is carried out, after all affected parts of the plant have been removed and destroyed. Such means can be Bordeaux liquid, Topaz or Fundazol.

When harmful insects are seen on the stems and foliage (aphids, sunflower moth, spider mites, sunflower barbel and the like), it is recommended to immediately perform an insecticide treatment, for example, Karbofos or Aktellik.

It happens that helianthus becomes a "victim" of such a disease as broomrape. This is the name of a parasitic plant that lives on the root system. In this case, the sprouts of this representative of the flora penetrate into the vessels of the sunflower and begin their life at the expense of the owner, while bringing him to death. Broomrape is easily recognized by a faded shade, a fleshy stem with a purple color and flowers that resemble bluish tubules. The foliage is very reduced to a scaly outline. Typically, such a plant parasite is found nearby at the base of the sunflower. It is very difficult to defeat such a plant.

For the destruction of broomrape, herbicides developed specifically for helianthus are used (for example, Eurolighting). But it turns out that not all sunflower varieties, let alone decorative ones, are resistant to such preparations. For prevention, it is recommended to carry out regular weeding of plantings of sunny flowers, as well as alternate crop rotation, that is, not to grow this crop for a long time in the same place.

Read also about the fight against possible diseases and pests of arctotis

Interesting notes about helianthus

Helianthus Leaves

On the territory of Russia, the sunflower became known thanks to the reign of Peter I, as he contributed to the import of seeds of the miracle plant, since it comes from Mexico. All this became clear only in our time, thanks to research carried out by the Russian and then Soviet scientist and botanist Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov (1887–1943). At first, helianthus was valued only for its decorative qualities, decorating gardens with flowers with large and spectacular inflorescences-baskets that track the movement of the sun in the sky. But gradually, as the properties were studied, the sunflower passed into the category of "technical" and began to be actively used for oil extraction.

The sunflower is undeservedly forgotten, and because of the lack of pollen, its inflorescences do not bring any trouble for allergy sufferers when making bouquets from such heads. In addition, such bouquets are capable of not fading and decorating the premises for a two-week period.

Types and varieties of helianthus

All types of sunflower, depending on the form, were divided by botanists into the following species groups:

  • variegated, characterized by patterns on sheet plates;
  • Californian, having filled outlines of inflorescences;
  • multi-flowered - having a large number of inflorescences arranged in a pyramidal order along the entire stem of the plant.

There is also a difference in the height to which the stems of the helianthus are extended:

  • dwarf views - values, the height of which does not exceed indicators of 0.6 m;
  • medium-sized varieties reaching a maximum height of 1.2 m;
  • giant varieties that vary in stem height in the range of 1, 8–3 m, also possessing inflorescences, the diameter of which can be close to 30 cm.

Below are the most common types of helianthus flower:

In the photo Annual sunflower

Annual sunflower (Helianthus annus)

or Helianthus annual has a herbaceous vegetation and a single straight stem. The surface of the stem is rough due to the ribs on it. The stem can be up to three meters in height. The leaf plates are attached to the stem with a petiole. The surface of the leaves is heavily pubescent of short, hard fibers. The arrangement of the foliage is next. The shape of the leaf plate can take heart-ovoid or only ovoid.

During flowering, the inflorescences look like a basket, which varies in diameter from 15 cm to half a meter. The inflorescence is composed of a large number of petals. The wrapper takes the shape of a bowl, it is formed by several rows of leaves with a pointed tip at the top. Reed flowers are usually characterized by a rather bright yellow color - they are asexual. The flowers that are inside the receptacle are tubular and bisexual, painted in reddish, dark brown or yellow colors. The seed has pubescence on the surface, its shape is obovate or wedge-shaped.

The native natural range of this species falls on the territory of the central and western regions of the United States. The species has been cultivated as a cultivated plant since 1597.

The most popular are the following garden forms:

  • californicum, characterized by a double structure of inflorescences, the petals in which are of a bright yellow hue;
  • globosus, as the name suggests, the shape of the inflorescence is almost spherical;
  • nanus can be used in flower beds due to low stem height indicators.
In the photo cucumber sunflower

Cucumber sunflower (Helianthus cucumerifolius)

may occur under the name Helianthus cucumber (Helianthus debilis), Beach sunflower, Dune sunflower or The sunflower is weak. An annual or a perennial, but it depends on the climate in the growing area, if the winters are severe there, then only one season is cultivated. A plant with a single straight stem and strong branching at the bottom. The leaf plates have a beautiful shape and appearance, differ in size and shape. The arrangement of the foliage is next.Length on average can be 14 cm with a width of 13 cm.

The inflorescence is characterized by spectacular outlines, represented by a head or a group of 2-3 heads. There are 20-21 reed flowers, with radial petals, the length of which reaches 2.3 cm. The natural color is usually yellow, but today there are bred varieties with whitish, reddish or orange flowers. The receptacle of the inflorescence-basket is formed by multiple tubular flowers with a red, yellowish or crimson tint.

The native area of ​​natural distribution falls on the territory of the United States, can be found along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the Persian Gulf. Elsewhere, the plant is considered an introduced species, which includes South Africa, Australia, Taiwan, Slovakia and Cuba.

Pictured is a giant sunflower

Giant sunflower (Helianthus giganteus)

or Helianthus giant, is a perennial with a single stem. Its height is three, in rare cases 4 meters. The stem is characterized by straight growth, powerful outlines, with tubers growing underground. Its color is purplish, the surface is rough or hard bristles grow on it. Branching begins in the middle of the stem. The leaf plates in the lower part of the stem can vary in length in the range of 8–18 cm. They grow oppositely. The outlines of the leaves are ovate-lanceolate, there is a wedge-shaped narrowing at both ends, the edge is decorated with small teeth. The foliage is rough on both sides on the surface due to the short pubescence of sparse bristles present there. The leaves are attached to the stem with elongated petioles. The leaf plates at the top can grow up to 8–12 cm in length. The leaf petioles are shortened or absent altogether.

Inflorescences have the outlines of large baskets, reaching 4–8 cm in diameter. They grow on the tops of branched stems both singly and in several pieces gathering there. The shape of the inflorescences is cupped. Reed flowers grow in one row. Their petals are 2, 5–4 cm long. The number of such flowers is calculated in the range of 10–20 units. The color of the petals is light or thick yellow, or pale yellow. The flowers in the central part of the inflorescence on the receptacle are tubular, crimson or orange-golden hue. The envelope is composed of lanceolate ciliate petals with a narrowing that converges into a pointed apex. The flowering process occurs in September-October and lasts up to 20-25 days.

The seeds of this species do not ripen, reproduction occurs by means of tubers, vegetatively. The species is characterized by relative winter hardiness, there is information that the plant can withstand a decrease in the thermometer column to the -34 mark. Wintering is carried out without the use of covering material. The native lands of this species are considered to be Canada, as well as the central and eastern regions of the United States. Prefers moisture and can be successfully cultivated in swampy locations. In culture, cultivation dates back to 1741.

Annual helianthus

have a large number of bred decorative varieties, among which are:

  1. Teddy bear, Teddy bear or Teddy Bear in height, the stems do not exceed half-meter indicators. During flowering, inflorescences are formed that resemble pompons due to the densely doubled structure. The diameter of the inflorescence is 15–20 cm, the color of the flowers in it is bright yellow.
  2. Red Sun or Red Sun it is tall. The stem can reach a height of 1.5 m. The inflorescences are characterized by burgundy marginal flowers and a darker shade of tubular.
  3. Vanilla Ice or Vanilla Ice, during flowering, the stem is decorated with an inflorescence with dark (almost black) central flowers, surrounded by marginal pale yellow, lemon to whitish. The receptacle is large.
  4. Giant Single or Giant Single can reach 2 m in height.The top of the stems is crowned with inflorescences with marginal golden-yellow flowers, the middle part is composed of brown, tubular, velvety flowers.
  5. Moulin Rouge It is distinguished by a cap-like inflorescence formed by velvety burgundy flowers.
  6. Moonlight or Moonlight inflorescence is characterized by lemon color of petals.
  7. Sun King or Man King has large inflorescences and a double structure.
  8. Crimson Queen or Crimson Queen the stem does not exceed 0.6 m in height, topped with inflorescences-baskets with petals of a dark cherry hue.

Perennial helianthuses also resemble from the territory of North America, differ in winter hardiness and stem height, ranging from 0, 62, 5 m. However, the inflorescences have small diameters, only 59 cm. Interesting varieties of perennials are: Majors, Soleil d'Or and Oktoberfest inflorescences of which have a double or semi-double structure.

Related article: Growing a berlandier in the garden

Video about growing helianthus in the garden:

Photos of helianthus:

Photo of Helianthus 1 Photo of Helianthus 2 Photo of Helianthus 3 Photo of Helianthus 4 Photo of Helianthus 5

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