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Helianthus annuus
Helianthus annuus

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Zone
Zones A1-A3, 1-45, H1, H2
Full Sun
Full
Ample WaterRegular Water
Ample, Moderate

Helianthus

Sunflower
Asteraceae (Compositae)
Annuals

Coarse, sturdy plants grown for their familiar, colorful blooms in summer and fall. Most are prime subjects for cut flowers. Plants are tough and widely adapted. Perennial kinds spread rapidly and may become invasive. Tall sunflowers may need staking. 

Helianthus annus
Helianthus annus

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Helianthus annuus

The wild ancestor of today’s familiar sunflowers is a coarse, hairy plant with 2–3-in.-wide flowers, native to much of the central United States and southward to Central ­America. It is the state flower of Kansas and the only plant native to the lower 48 states to have become an important agricultural commodity. It has been bred to produce giant plants as well as a host of smaller (but still significant) varieties for garden decoration and cut flowers. Most sunflowers used in gardens are 3 to 7 ft. tall.

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)
Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)

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Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

Perennial. Fast-growing hybrid to 6–8 ft. tall and 3–4 ft. wide, with long, narrow leaves. Produces many 2-in.-wide, semidouble, pale yellow flowers with a dark brown center. Use at the back of a casual border or in combination with large ornamental grasses. Takes moist or dry soil. Does not require staking, provided the soil is not too rich and the plants are not overfertilized.

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