Helianthus is a member of the compositae, or Daisy family, derives its name from two Greek words, helios = sun, and anthos = flower, which accounts for the common name of Sunflower. Not now so popular as at one time, there is still a limited demand as it is useful in bold arrangements.

The planting season extends from November to March, whenever the soil is workable.

A mulching of stable manure or compost in the late autumn will do much to give both protection and enrich the soil, thus ensuring the production of really good flower-heads. Some gardeners give a few applications of liquid manure when the flower stems begin to develop, believing that this feeding prevents the stems from hardening so early and yet not making the growth too soft.

Species and varieties worth growing include ‘Soleil d’or’, rich yellow flowers with double-quilled petals on 5-ft stems; H. scaber or rigidus, yellow with brown central disc, 6 ft, and H. sparsifolius, semi-double, orange flowers, 6 ft high.

Helianthus annuus

Cut the flowers with long stems before the petals are fully opened and plunge them in water for some hours immediately after cutting and before bunching them.


A sunflower-like perennial, needing the same culture as helianthus, although it is shorter growing. The strong, erect stems grow to about 3 ft or so, having one central bloom and a number of laterals. They last well in water, in which they should be placed immediately they are cut. If they wilt after being gathered, they have difficulty in taking up water again. They are more compact-growing than the sunflowers, and as a rule, even when full grown, they will rarely occupy more space than 2 ft square. They flower from July to September, and among the best to grow are varieties of H. patala and gikantea, including ‘Orange King’ and ‘Light of Loddon’.

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