TX Organic Research Center





Common Name: Sunflower

Botanical Name: Helianthus spp.

Family: Compositae

Type and Use: Annuals and perennials with edible flowers, seed, and roots

Location: Full sun

Planting Dates: Plant seed or root tubers of perennials such as Jerusalem artichoke in the spring after the last frost.

Planting Method: Plant seed or tuber pieces in well-drained soil in full sun in the spring.

Seed Emergence: Both seed and tubers emerge quickly to grow into large plants.

Harvest Time: Harvest the flower petals any time, the seeds after the flower heads have matured and dried, the edible tubers in the fall.

Height: 3-12 feet

Spread: Annuals grow as single plants; perennials spread by runners

Spacing: Seeds should be planted 18-24 inches. Clumps of perennial at 18-36 inches.

Growth Habits: Tall-growing and coarse for the most part. Maximillian is the most refined looking and often the best choice for residential gardens.

Culture: Plant in well-drained soil and fertilize monthly for the largest flower heads. Soil amendments are not that important for sunflowers.

Troubles and Solutions: Too large and coarse for many residential locations. Solution: donít plant them there. The perennials spread and can become invasive.

Harvest and Storage: Harvest the flower petals any time to use as an interesting garnish. Gather and eat the mature seed after the flower head has dried.

Notes: The tubers of Maximilian and Jerusalem artichoke taste like water chestnuts. They are delicious and can be used just like potatoes. Maximilian sunflower is an excellent landscape perennial.

Varieties: The common sunflower is Hedera annua. Maximilian sunflower (with edible tubers) is Hedera maximilian. Sunchoke or Jerusalem artichoke is Hedera tuberosa and has the largest edible tubers.

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