Sunflower: Dwarf Sungold (Helianthus annuus)
Dwarf Sungold Sunflowers are truly a summer’s delight and a favorite of home gardeners. It’s hard to look away from their huge fluffy golden yellow blooms and even harder to resist fondling their super soft to the touch texture! Growing to a height of 30”, this sunflower is guaranteed to not take up too much of your garden as larger varieties are known to do. It also attracts bees, butterflies, and birds to your garden!
Harvesting & Storage
Nutrition & Health Benefits
Also known as: Teddy Bear.
Ease of Growing: Easy
Grown as: Annual
Days to Maturity: 75-80 Days.
Hardiness: Half Hardy. Sunflowers will tolerate light frost.
Crops: Spring Transplant, Spring, Summer
Growing Season: Long
Growing Conditions: Warm, Hot. Sunflowers needs rich soil for good growth. They prefer full sun (though they will tolerate light shade). The taller varieties need shelter from the wind and should be placed where they won't cast unwanted shade on other plants.
Outdoor Growing Temp: 55°F - 95°F
Min Outdoor Soil Temp: 50°F, Don't plant out until the soil is at least 50˚ F (and preferably 60˚ F).
Start Indoors: Yes
Start Outdoors: Yes
Light: Sun: min. 6 hours daily (Warm, Hot). Full sun.
Water: Moderate. Sunflowers are thirsty plants and for maximum production they need a constant supply of water.
Feeder: Low nitrogen. High phosphorus. High potassium. Sunflowers like phosphorus and potassium, but not too much nitrogen as it may encourage leaf growth rather than flowering.
Suitability: High heat.
Small Gardens?: Yes
Attracts beneficial insects?: Yes. Butterflies, Birds, Bee's.
Plant Height: 24-36"
Sow Depth: 1"
Produces: a dwarf plant with very large golden yellow blooms that range in size.
USDA Grow Zone: 1-10
Storage Req: Drying
Storage Temp: 55-70°F
Storage Length: 180-360 days
Seed Viability in Years: 3-5 years
Edible oil: Modern varieties of seed may contain up to 60% oil. This can be extracted by pressing the crushed seeds, or you can do as Native Americans used to. They boiled the kernels in water and skimmed the edible oil off from the surface.
Sprouts: The raw whole seed can be sprouted like Alfalfa. Don't let the sprouts get too big or they may develop an acrid taste.
Eating Sunflower seeds: If you are to grow Sunflowers for their edible seeds, you really need to learn how to eat them. Start by putting a seed vertically between your molars (chewing teeth) so the seed holds in the indentations. Crack the seed gently, then use your tongue to separate the smooth seed from the rough shell. Finally you spit out the shell. This is harder to do than it is to describe and it takes quite a bit of practice to get it down smoothly. Eventually you can have a store of seeds in one cheek, crack them on the other side of your mouth and spit out the shells in a continuous stream.
Francisco Hernandez, an early Spanish explorer, ascribed aphrodisiac powers to the sunflower. Charles H. Lange, an anthropologist at the University of Texas, wrote that “among the Cochiti, a reliable ‘home remedy’ for cuts and other wounds is the juice of freshly crushed sunflower stems. The juice is smeared liberally over the wounds, bandaged, and invariably results in a speedy recovery, with never a case of infection”.
According to Moerman (1986) sunflowers were used in the following ways:
- The Cherokee used an infusion of sunflower leaves to treat kidneys.
- The Dakota used an infusion of sunflowers for chest pains and pulmonary troubles.
- The Gros Ventres, Rees, and Mandan used sunflowers ceremonially; oil from the seeds were used to lubricate or paint the face and body.
- The Gros Ventres, Mandan, Rees, and Hidatsa used sunflower seeds as a stimulant, taken on a war party or hunt to alleviate fatigue.
- The Hopi used the sunflower plant as a “spider medicine” and dermatological aid.
- The Navajo ate sunflower seeds to stimulate the appetite.
- The Navaho-Kayenta used the plant for the sun sand painting ceremony and as a disinfectant to prevent prenatal infections caused by the solar eclipse.
- The Navaho-Ramah used a salve of pulverized seed and root to prevent injury from a horse falling on a person and as a moxa of the pith to remove warts.
- The Paiute used a decoction of sunflower root to alleviate rheumatism.
- Pawnee women ate a dry seed concoction to protect suckling children.
- The Pima applied a poultice of warm ashes to the stomach for worms and used a decoction of leaves for high fevers and as a wash for horses’ sores caused by screwworms.
- The Thompson Indians used powdered sunflower leaves alone or in an ointment on sores and swellings.
- The Zuni used a poultice of sunflower root to treat snakebite, along with much ritual and ceremony.
Thanks to their enormous size, sunflowers cast quite a shadow. In the middle of the day, when sunlight is most intense, it can bake and burn vegetable plants, but growing those plant under sunflowers' giant blossoms provides them with much-needed shade. Cucumbers and lettuce, for instance, can be grown beneath sunflowers to take advantage of the shelter they offer. Melons also need protection from the sun's harsh rays and grow well beneath sunflowers.
Some plants grow well together because they thrive in the same type of soil. Numerous bush bean varieties, such as wax, lima and green beans, are good sunflower companions for that reason. All of these plants are well-suited to acidic soil, with a pH level ranging from 6.5 to 7.5. Because bush beans provide their own nitrogen and don't require heavy amounts of nutrients, they don't compete with sunflowers for food, preventing the two kinds of plants from harming one another.
Though they are tiny, aphids are a serious problem for many plants, including flowers and vegetables. With their sharp, piercing mouths, aphids drain plants of their fluids can destroy entire gardens. Aphids also like to attack sunflowers, but they do little damage because of the sunflowers' thick stalks and overall toughness. If other plants suffer from an aphid infestation, plant a few sunflowers to act as distracting decoys.
Many plants, particularly those with long, winding vines, need trellises to support them as they grow. Although it’s possible to erect a store-bought, metal or plastic trellis, sunflowers are a natural, beautiful alternative. Vine cucumber and corn plants need support as they mature and can be trained to grow along sunflowers' stalks, which are strong enough to handle the other plants' weight.
To attract Assassin Bugs to your garden you will need to grow: Most garden plants, field crops, ornamental trees and shrubs. Spined assassin bugs are often found on goldenrod and other wildflowers.
Big-eyed Bugs: Big-eyed bugs are small (~3/16 inch long), fast moving true bugs. They are generalist predators and are most commonly seen on the ground or in shorter growing plants. They prey on aphids, small caterpillars and caterpillar eggs, fleahoppers, lygus bugs, mites, thrips, whiteflies. They are distinguished by their very large eyes which are as broad as the width of their body. Big-eyed bugs are not available commercially.
To attract Big-eyed bugs to your garden you will need to grow: Caraway (Carum carvi), Cosmos “white sensation” (Cosmos bipinnatus), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Peter Pan Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), and Marigold “lemon gem” (Tagetes tenuifolia).
Braconid Wasps: prey on Tobacco Hornworm, Tomato Hornworm, Caterpillars, Aphids, Flea Beetles, and Mexican Bean Beetles.
To attract Braconid Wasps to your garden you will need to grow: Fern-leaf Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Dill, Lemon Balm, and Parsley.
Damsel Bugs: These true bugs are very common and abundant in farms, gardens and landscapes. They are generalist predators and both the adults and nymphs eat aphids, caterpillar eggs, small larvae, fleahoppers, lygus bugs, leafhoppers, treehoppers, spider mites, and other soft-bodied insects, especially on shorter growing plants. They are common in agricultural habitats, such as soybean, corn, and alfalfa. Damsel bugs are greyish brown in color and have grasping front legs. They are not commercially available.
To attract Damsel Bugs to your garden you will need to grow: Caraway (Carum carvi), Cosmos “white sensation” (Cosmos bipinnatus), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Peter Pan Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), and Marigold “lemon gem” (Tagetes tenuifolia).
Ground Beetles: Prey on Snails, Slugs, Ants, Maggots, Earthworms, Caterpillars, Armyworms, Grubs, Colorado potato beetles, and Cutworms.
To attract Ground Beetles to your garden you will need to grow: evening primrose, amaranthus, and clover.
Hoverflies: Prey on aphids, scale insects, caterpillars, and Thrips.
To attract Hoverflies to your garden you will need to grow: Fern-leaf yarrow (Achillea ﬁlipendulina), Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Carpet bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), Lavender globe lily (Allium tanguticum), Basket of Gold (Alyssum saxatilis), Dill (Anethum graveolens), Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria), Dwarf alpine aster (Aster alpinus), Masterwort (Astrantia major), Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata), Caraway (Carum carvi), Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium), Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), Cosmos white sensation (Cosmos bipinnatus), Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum CA), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii), Statice (Limonium latifolium), Butter and eggs (Linaria vulgaris), Edging lobelia (Lobelia erinus), Sweet alyssum white (Lobularia maritima), Lemon Balm (Melissa ofﬁcinalis), Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Wild Bergamot (Monarda ﬁstulosa), Rocky Mountain penstemon (Penstemon strictus), Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), Sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta ‘warrenii’), Alpine cinquefoil (Potentilla villosa), Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia fulgida), Orange stonecrop (Sedum kamtschaticum), Stonecrops (Sedum spurium), Peter Pan goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), Wood betony (Stachys ofﬁcinalis), Marigold “lemon gem” (Tagetes tenuifolia), Crimson thyme (Thymus serpylum coccineus), Spike speedwell (Veronica spicata), Zinnia "liliput" (Zinnia elegans).
Lacewings: Green lacewings are common generalist predators that feed on aphids. Brown lacewings are slightly smaller. Some species of adult lacewings are predaceous while the larvae are very active predators that feed on soft-bodied prey such as mites, aphids, leafhoppers, thrips, whiteflies, and pest eggs. Lacewings in nearly all life stages are commercially available.
To attract Lacewings to your garden you will need to grow: Fern-leaf yarrow (Achillea ﬁlipendulina), Dill (Anethum graveolens), Angelica (Angelica gigas), Golden marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria), Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata), Caraway (Carum carvi), Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), Cosmos white sensation (Cosmos bipinnatus), Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Prairie sunﬂower (Helianthus maximilianii), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Dandelion (Taraxacum ofﬁcinale).
Minute Pirate Bugs: Minute pirate bugs are very small (~1/12 inch long) predators that are difficult to see without a hand lens or jeweler’s loupe. They are generalist predators that feed on small insect prey. Both the nymphs and adults are predaceous. The adults are identified by the black and white color and an X pattern across the back. The nymphs are tiny and red to orange in color. Minute pirate bugs are commercially available.
To attract Minute Pirate Bugs to your garden you will need to grow: Caraway (Carum carvi),
Cosmos “white sensation” (Cosmos bipinnatus), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Peter Pan Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), and Marigold “lemon gem” (Tagetes tenuifolia).
Praying Mantis: Preys on a wide range including caterpillars, moths, beetles, and crickets.
To attract Praying Mantis to your garden you will need to grow: tall grasses and shrubs, cosmos, marigolds, and dills.
Health Benefits of Sunflowers Seeds
Prevents Cellular Damage: Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, which is a vital component of your day-to-day nutritional needs. These seeds are great antioxidants that stop the extensive spread of free radicals within the human body. These free radicals can lead to a variety of cellular damage and diseases. Rich, natural sources of vitamin E are rare, but sunflower seeds are rich in this vitamin, which aids in the proper functioning of the circulatory system. Vitamin E also helps the blood to clot readily when you experience external wounds, thereby helping speed up the healing process. Sunflower seeds also help to lower the risk of cardiac diseases and diabetes. The selenium present in sunflower seeds repairs cellular damage and eliminates the spread of cancerous cells.
Improves Digestion: Sunflower seeds have a large amount of dietary fiber. If your body is deficient of fiber, you may experience a host of health problems like constipation, piles, hemorrhoids, colon cancer and many others. Severe digestive problems can even increase toxicity within your intestines. The recommended amount of fiber is around 30 grams per day for an adult. However, it has been noted in surveys that most people fail to consume even 15 grams per day. By including sunflower seeds in your diet, you can easily get a rich supply of the dietary fiber and reduce the possibility of digestion-related problems.
Increases Energy Levels: Most athletes enjoy eating sunflower seeds, as these seeds offer high amounts of protein and carbohydrates. These seeds aid the liver’s discharge of glycogen into the bloodstream. Glycogen is a form of sugar; thereby providing an extra boost of quick energy.
Strengthens Bones and Muscles: The iron in sunflower seeds distributes oxygen to your muscles, while zinc strengthens your immune system and helps you to avoid coughs and cold. Magnesium is also essential for strong bones and energy production. Almost 2/3 of the magnesium in the human body is stored in the bones. Magnesium aids the bones in their physical structure and strength, while the remaining magnesium is found on the surface of the bones, which is used up by the body as required. The high magnesium content in sunflower seeds lowers your blood pressure; thus reducing the possibility of a heart attack or stroke.
Improves Brain Health: It has been proven in several studies that sunflower seeds can actually have a calming effect on your brain and also help uplift your mood. This property of sunflower seeds is due to the high content of tryptophan present within the seeds. When you have foods containing tryptophan, it efficiently increases your brain’s fabrication of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter. Serotonin also effectively reduces tension, thereby creating a relaxed feeling. The choline content in these seeds plays a vital role in memory and vision functions. Sunflower seeds have high amounts of betaine, which effectively protects against cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure. Moreover the presence of arginine in these seeds is also responsible for a healthy heart. The lignans keeps blood cholesterol at appropriate levels, thus preventing heart attacks and atherosclerosis.
Helpful During Pregnancy: Sunflower seeds are abundant in folate content, also known as folic acid, which is a type of vitamin B. Folate is very good for pregnancy, as it helps in the production of new cells in the body, thereby promoting the replication of DNA and RNA, which is very significant for the growth and development of the fetus. It works in association with vitamin B-12 to form hemoglobin in the red blood cells. By having enough folate in your body, you also lower the chances of heart ailments.
Health Benefits of Sunflower Oil
Treats Athlete’s Foot: Research suggests that sunflower oil is also an effective remedy for treating Athlete’s foot (Tinea pedis). Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that starts between the toes and the topical application of the sunflower oil helps in curing it faster.
Boosts Heart Health: Sunflower oil, in moderation, is a good choice for those who want to keep an eye on their heart health and prevent atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can clog arteries, raise blood pressure, and increase your chances of suffering a heart attack or a stroke. The presence of choline, phenolic acid, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats in sunflower oil boosts the energy and also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Improves Immune System: Sunflower oil is rich in vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant in the body. It has been directly connected to preventing heart disease and boosting your immune system.
Skin Care: Sunflower oil, rich in vitamin E, is specifically related to improving skin health and regenerating cells. This means your skin is better protected against damage from the sun, as well as the natural degradation of age that occurs when free radicals are present in the body. Antioxidants like vitamin E neutralize free radicals, keeping them from destroying or damaging healthy cells. You can see an increased reduction in scars, quicker wound healing, and a healthier natural glow to your skin. This is a major reason why sunflower oil is commonly used in cosmetic applications.
Some people use sunflower oil for massaging premature infants having low birth weight or other complications. It is claimed that this effectively lowers the chances of developing skin infections. Since their organs (including their skin) are in an underdeveloped stage, this oil acts as a protective barrier. However, sufficient scientific literature is not available on this benefit of sunflower oil.
Boosts Energy: The fatty acid content in sunflower oil is connected to energy levels in the body. Saturated fats can make you feel sluggish, while unsaturated fats, of which sunflower oil has many, can keep you feeling energized.
Prevents Cancer: As mentioned above, sunflower oil is rich in antioxidants and substances that act as antioxidants. Vitamin E, which has a group of compounds known as tocopherols, is a powerful antioxidant that can eliminate free radicals before they can mutate healthy cells into cancerous cells. Specifically, sunflower oil has been linked to preventing colon cancer and there are a number of ongoing research studies to verify its effects on a wider variety of cancers.
Reduces Inflammation: Asthma affects millions of people around the world, and this respiratory condition can range from mild to life-threatening. Sunflower oil has been positively correlated with a lower amount and severity of asthma attacks because of its anti-inflammatory qualities, which are derived from its vitamin content, as well as the beneficial fatty acids it contains.
Reduces Severity of Arthritis: Along with asthma, sunflower oil has also been linked to a reduction in severity of arthritis.
Protects Body: They also have a significant effect on the general immune system and increase the body’s ability to resist attacks by infection. Sunflower oil protects the skin by strengthening the membrane barriers, thereby making it harder for bacteria and viruses to enter the body.
Prevents Infections: Sunflower oil is highly recommended for infants because it can protect them from infections, particularly when they are born premature and are highly susceptible to them. This same benefit is extended to adults who use the oil as well, although the effects are not quite as dramatic on them.
Others: Like the sunflower seed, sunflower oil is also rich in vitamin E. Thus, being an antioxidant, it counterbalances cancer-causing free radicals. Vitamin E also prevents asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and colon cancer. While the magnesium content prevents muscle cramps, tryptophan helps in relaxing the brain and cures insomnia.
Amaranth: Love Lies Bleeding (Heirloom) (Amaranthus caudatus)
Amaranth: Perfecta (Heirloom) (Amaranthus Tricolor 'Perfecta')
Amaranth: Red Garnet (Heirloom) (Amaranthus tricolor)
Balm: Lemon (Melissa officinalis)
Bergamot: Wild (Monarda fistulosa)
Caraway (Carum carvi)
Clover: Crimson (Trifolium incarnatum)
Clover: Purple Prairie (Dalea purpurea)
Coriander: Leisure (Coriandrum sativum)
Cosmos: Bright Lights (Cosmos sulphureus)
Cosmos: Candy Stripe (Cosmos bipinnatus)
Cosmos: Radiance (Cosmos bipinnatus)
Dill: Dukat (Anethum graveolens)
Fennel: Florence (Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum)
Marigolds: Naughty Marietta (Tagetes patula)
Marigolds: Sparky Mix French (Tagetes patula)
Marigold: White (Tagetes Erecta 'Kilimanjaro')
Commonly called African marigold, Aztec marigold, American marigold or big marigold, is native to Mexico and Central America. Big marigold may be the best descriptive name because plants are noted for their large flowerheads. They typically grow from 1-4’ tall and feature huge, mostly double-globular flowers (2-4” diameter) in various shades of yellow, orange, and whitish. This variety is unaffected by high summer heat and generally blooms throughout the summer.
Mint: Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium)
Parsley: Italian Giant (Heirloom) (Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum)
Penstemon: Rocky Mountain (Penstemon strictus)
Poached Egg Plant (Limnanthes douglasii)
This native species was first discovered by David Douglas, a Scottish botanist commissioned to collect native American plants suitable for the gardens of Great Britain. The species name "douglasii" honors his discovery, while the genus name "Limnanthes" means "marsh flower" because of this plant's preference for moist soil. This fragrant butterfly magnet has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's prestigious Award of Garden Merit.