Sunflowers are in full bloom right now, attracting hoards of bumblebees and other pollinators. The annual sunflower, shown here, makes a wonderful addition to a less formal xeric garden–one in which you don’t mind finding a crop of new seedlings every year. Annual sunflowers are incredibly drought-tolerant, especially if they sow themselves. In addition they attract finches and other birds who dine on the tasty seeds.
These annual sunflowers are the parents of myriad ornamental cultivars of different colors and sizes.
But annuals are only part of the story. There are about 70 different species of sunflowers, mostly native to N. America. Many of them are perennials, like Maximilian’s Sunflower–which we have been offering for some years. This year we are experimenting with two new perennial sunflowers–Western Sunflower and Dwarf Sunflower. Dwarf Sunflower (Helianthus pumilus) is native to parts of Idaho, Montana and Colorado and Western Sunflower (Helianthus occidentalis) is native not to the West, but to drier areas in the East and Midwest. Go figure.

August 7, 2023