Helianthus ('Valentine')

(heal-ee-an' thus)

Common name: Sunflower

Family: Asteraceae, Aster

Height x width: 2'-10' x 8-12"

Growth rate: fast

Foliage: mostly alternate, ovate, scabrous-bristly (like sandpaper) above, hispid (hairy) below

Flowers: usually 3-6" across but up to 14" in giant type, ray flowers red or purple, disk flowers usually yellow to orange-yellow but sometimes with red markings

Hardiness: annual

Soil: well-drained, tolerates dry, better if moist

Light: sun

Pests and problems: leaf spots, powdery mildew, rusts, stem rot, aphids, cutworms, mechanical damage as from wind

Landscape habit, uses: borders, temporary screen, birds, dwarf types in containers, eating

Other interest: genus from the Greek helios meaning sun and anthos meaning flower, native to North America; much breeding in 1980's and 90's of new cultivars, many dwarf and other colors; grown in some countries for seed oil

Other culture: old stalks and massive roots may be difficult to remove from gardens

Propagation: seed (800-1200 per ounce) sown direct to field, or direct to containers 2-3 weeks before planting out


annuus (an-new' us)--main species of commerce; some species produce no pollen, so no sticky powder to stain surface, but also no seeds; pollen-producing species are needed if seeds are desired for birds; some species have seeds better for roasting and eating.

debilis (dee-bill' iss)--longer bloom, branched, long stems, 5000-6000 seeds per ounce

Cultivars: (of annuus unless noted)
Cultivars height flowers other
'Aztec Gold' medium, 6' golden, 10-12" edible, good screen
'Autumn Giant Mix' tall, 6-10' mix, 6" syn. 'Large Flowered Mix'
'Big Smile' dwarf, 12-15" golden, black centers early
'Chianti' medium, 4-5' wine red, 3-4" pollenless, branched
'Full Sun'   golden, 6-8" rust-resistant, good cut
'Fun 'n Sun Mix' medium, 4-6' mix, 3-8" pollenless, 10 varieties
'Happy Face' medium, 2-4' golden, 5" greenish centers
'Italian White' (debilis) medium, 5' ivory, 6" dark center, good cut
'Kid Stuff' medium, 3' golden, 10"  
'Mammoth' tall, 12' golden, 12-15" edible
'Moonbright' medium, 7' lemon yellow, 4-6" pollenless, good cut
'Music Box' dwarf, 2½' mix, 4-5" dark centers
'Orange Sun' medium, 3½" tangerine, 5-6", double  
'Park's Velvet Tapestry' medium, 5-6' mix, 4-6" uniform height, flowers
'Paul Bunyan' tall, 13-15' yellow, 8-12" strong stalks, edible
'Ring of Fire' medium, 4' red/yellow, 4" All-America Selections winner
'Russian Giant' tall, 8-10' golden, 10-12"  
'Sonja' medium, 4' tangerine, 4", horizontal dark center, good cut
'Soraya' medium, 5-6' golden, single, 5" All-America Selections winner
'Sunbeam' tall, 7' golden, 4-6", green center pollenless, good cut 
'Sunbright' tall, 7' yellow, 4-6", green center pollenless, good cut
'Sunburst Mix' medium, 4' mix, 4" branched
'Sundrops' medium, 5' golden, 3"  
Sunrich series medium, 3' lemon and orange, 4-6" pollenless, good cut
'Sunrise' medium, 5' yellow, 6" basal branching, good cut
'Sunset' medium, 3' mahogany, 6" gold-tipped, branching
'Sunspot' dwarf, 18" yellow, 12" large centers, edible
'Tangina' medium, 3' light orange, 4"  
'Teddy Bear' dwarf, 2' golden, 6", double uniform, bush-like
'Valentine' medium, 6' lemon yellow, 4-6" dark center, good cut
'Velvet Queen' medium, 5' deep red, 5-6" dark center

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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