The genus consists of about sixty species, mostly
native to North America, and includes annual and
Helianthus decapetalus, of variable height, has stems
reaching from four to six feet, bearing flowers,
three inches across, with light yellow ray petals.
There are various double forms of garden origin,
all more or less attractive.
Helianthus rigidus (syn. Helianthus scaberrimus) is one of the
best perennial forms, reaching a height of three
to six or more feet.
Helianthus orgyalis is a very distinct species, reaching
a height of seven to eight feet, with stems eight
to fourteen inches long, becoming branched at
the top and bearing many medium-sized yellow flowers.
Helianthus multiflorus yellow, five feet tall, has nobler
varieties in a double var. flore-pleno, and “Lodden
Gold”, and a huge single-flowered var. maximus,
five to six feet. Easily grown in any well-drained
The common annual sunflower of English cottage
gardens is Helianthus annuus, reaching up to ten feet.
The seeds are used for poultry feed.
Propagation is by division in late winter.
The flowering season is from July to September.
Three to seven feet.
Flowers yellow, August and September.
The annual Sunflowers are like the perennial
class, gross feeders and rapid growers; few plants
make more vegetable tissue in a given time, and
they require food and water in proportion.
Deep rich soil, with plenty of space for root
and top alike, is necessary for fine specimens.
Sow the seed of all annual kinds in heat about
the end of March, transplant once, six inches
apart, and keep near the glass to prevent the
stems being drawn up.
Harden and plant out singly, or in groups or lines
at the back of mixed borders; water copiously
in dry weather.
They should need no sticks or support if liberally
treated and grown in an open exposure.
The best-known kind is the tall single Sunflower,
with orange-yellow petals surrounding a disc of
dark seed-florets a foot or more in diameter.
It is a noble plant when fully developed; the
best strains flower freely from shoots at the
axils of the leaf-stalks, inferior sorts exhaust
themselves in one huge flower.
There is also a sort with petals of a pale lemon
colour, sometimes called “Moonflower”,
well worth growing; and also one with double flowers,
filling up the seed-disc with close-set petals.
Next in order are dwarf strains, about three feet
high, with double and semi-double flowers.
These are apt to look stubby; the best of the
shorter sunflowers are Orion, deep yellow, single,
about three inches in diameter, with petals rolled
like those of a Cactus Dahlia; Stella, a miniature
flower with flat yellow petals, and Diadem, resembling
Orion, but pale primrose in colour.
All these have a very branching growth, and form
open bushes about four feet high, bearing scores
of blooms at once.
They require good rich soil and a sunny site,
and should have water in droughty seasons.
All annual sunflowers should be cut down after
the frosts have spoiled them, and the roots forked
up without delay.
In mild neighbourhoods and kindly soil the seeds
of annual sunflowers may be sown about an inch
deep in the open ground in May, and the plants
allowed to stand and flower where sown.
See Also : Helianthus