When it comes to perennial flowers, there are numerous reasons why they are so popular – offering a lush and attractive sight in any garden with each passing year.
One popular perennial species is the sunflower – one that has become synonymous with the summer sun, and one that comes in numerous varieties, shapes, and sizes.
But this begs the question: what exactly are the best perennial sunflower plants, and what makes them so special?
What Does ‘Perennial’ Mean?
With regards to flora, ‘perennial’ very much has the same meaning as the word ‘perpetual’ – referring to plants that have the propensity to return every springtime without dying off and requiring the growth or planting of a new plant.
The success of such perennials depend entirely on the type of flower, measured against the environment in which the grower lives.
When these two things add up perfectly, and the other factors (such as soil quality, and feeding schedule) are correct, it really is a recipe for success – creating a garden of lovely plants that thrive in the warmer months, lay dormant in the wintertime, and then return once more come spring.
Are Perennials Difficult To Care For?
This very much depends on the specific needs of the plant in question, and whether they are situated in an environment that is appropriate for their needs.
Many forms of hardy wildflowers are actually perennials, and these are naturally growing in environments that meet their needs in terms of soil quality, rainfall, and environmental temperature.
However, other types of flowers are known as ‘tender perennials’ – and these require very specific care and treatment to ensure they come back each spring fresh and renewed.
If these needs are not met, then they will simply die off in the winter months, and not rejuvenate in the spring.
Are Sunflowers Perennial?
Like with most species of flowers, not every variety of sunflower is perennial – with some instead being annual plants, which refers to plants that need to be seeded and planted again each spring.
Perennial Vs Annual Sunflowers
When it comes to the exact differences between perennial and annual sunflowers, there really aren’t that many – other than the obvious difference in their growing patterns.
However, one main difference is that annual sunflowers are generally brighter and more vibrant – due to the fact that they are fresh and new, and can work to the best of their ability.
This differs somewhat from older perennial plants, which – despite being attractive nonetheless – are older plants that require more nourishment and energy to survive and thrive.
The 7 Best Perennial Sunflowers
Now that we know a little more about what perennial flowers are – as well as the perennial sunflowers themselves – it’s now time to take a closer look at some of our favorite perennial sunflowers, and what makes them so special.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
1. Silverleaf Sunflower (H. Argophyllus)
Taking its name from its ‘silvery’ leaves, which are coated in a silk-like fuzz, the silverleaf sunflower is one of the largest varieties, and is a popular choice for any garden.
These can generally grow to be around 6 ft tall, and are renowned for their medium sized heads of spaced out yellow petals, and their large brown, protruding centers.
2. Beach Sunflower (Helianthus Debilis)
Next on our list is the beach sunflower, known for its resilience, fast-paced growth cycle, and its ability to spread like wildfire in no time.
Taking its name from its penchant for coastal gardens and wild areas, the beach sunflower is an attractive, brightly colored addition to any family garden, and will undoubtedly be around for years to come.
They are also known for their bright yellow leaves, which are densely spaced out, making them a lush, attractive arrangement, and a great addition to any garden or wild space.
What’s more, their dark heart color creates a striking contrast loved by many.
3. Ashy Sunflower (Helianthus Mollis)
Next we have the ashy sunflower – but don’t let its name mislead you, it is anything but dull and dirty.
If anything, the ashy sunflower is actually one of the more vibrant varieties of sunflower in the world, and is a common sight in Asia, where it can grow up to 4 feet tall, and with flowers that are roughly 8 centimeters in diameter.
Like most sunflower plants, they are partial to full sun, and can generally thrive in even the poorest quality soil, making it one of the most resilient on this list.
It is also one of the most pleasant and uniform looking sunflowers – with closely arranged, densely populated petals, and a warm yellow color all over.
4. Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus Augustifolius)
Another sunflower with a misleading name, the swamp sunflower is actually a delicate, small sunflower that has much to offer even the smallest garden.
Colored with a delicate, softer yellow than its counterparts within the species, the swamp sunflower does well in wet and moist conditions, where it can grow dense and thickly populated in no time at all.
Funnily enough, they can also grow to around ten feet tall, and their small yet appealing flowers can make a great sight for any garden or wildflower meadow.
5. Giant Sunflower (Helianthus Giganteus)
As one of the most famous varieties of sunflower in the world, the giant sunflower is a popular choice for many, and in many ways is the variant that is most synonymous with the plant in general.
The giant sunflower is known for its larger flower head, for its edible seeds and leaves, and for its large flower heart – which is one of the largest within the species.
Growing over ten feet tall in some cases, the giant sunflower is very much the poster child for sunflower species, and it’s really not hard to see why.
Doing well in wet and moist conditions, as well as in dry and sunny woodlands, it is also widely versatile, meaning many people can enjoy it all around the world.
6. Maximilian Sunflower (Helianthus Maximiliani)
Another large variety of sunflower, the Maximilian sunflower can survive in even the harshest, poorest soil conditions, making them exceptionally easy to grow, care for, and maintain.
With vivid yellow/orange heads, and orange sunflower hearts, they look a lot different from their giant counterparts, but are nonetheless an attractive and widely popular addition to gardens and flower beds.
What’s more, they also have one of the toughest thresholds for poor soil conditions – being able to withstand dry and moist conditions alike.
7. Small-Headed Sunflower (Helianthus Microcephalus)
Last on our list, but by no means least, we have the small-headed sunflower – which as its name implies, produces small flower heads that grow in tight, curved clumps.
Known for being one of the sturdiest sunflower varieties, the small-headed sunflower has the ability to self seed, meaning that they spread like wildfire once they get going.
This means that regular pruning might be necessary for those who want them in their garden without them taking over any space they are designated.
That being said, what an addition they certainly make!
How Many Species Of Sunflower Are There?
When it comes to sunflowers, there are roughly 82 species located all around North America, and remain a popular sight in both the wild, and in people’s flower beds due to a couple of simple facts: they are beautiful, vibrant, and easy to maintain.
How Many Perennial Sunflower Species Are There?
Of these 82 North American species of sunflowers, there are around 38 that can be raised as perennial flowers – meaning that with a little care and attention, they can keep coming back again and again for people to enjoy.
How To Ensure Consistent Good Growth?
When it comes to ensuring long lasting growth and health for your perennial sunflowers, there are certain things you need to do with regards to maintenance and care.
Maintaining the health and nutrient content of the soil is paramount for any kind of plant growth. With regards to sunflowers, they need rich and fertile soil that is set on well-drained ground to ensure the best growth.
That being said, certain species are more than capable of surviving in poorer soil conditions – which is one reason why they are so prevalent throughout the world.
Most perennial sunflowers do not do well in arid, drought conditions, and as such regular watering is essential. However, if you are in an area that gets frequent and heavy rains, then you need to limit your watering routine accordingly.
You also need to ensure that your perennial sunflowers are planted in areas that are exposed to frequent, full sunshine. After all, they are called ‘sunflowers’ – and the clue is in the name.
Due to their ability to grow relatively large, there are certain spacing requirements that you need to follow. As with a lot of similar plants, they can soon become rife and thickly dispersed, which means that every couple of years you need to ensure they are divided and separated effectively.
Sunflowers also need to be properly pruned to ensure that dead facets of the plant are removed, and aren’t acting as a drain on the energy of the rest of the plant.
This should be done in the springtime, with any dead leaves or heads being removed from the plant to make way for new growth in the spring and summer.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about perennial sunflowers, and the best flowers to enjoy in your garden for years to come.
It’s true that perennials are a great way to populate any flower bed, ensuring your garden has plenty of green and attractive flowers that will come back with each passing year.
However, this is by no means easy, and requires a lot of work and knowhow to ensure you get the desired end result.
But if you are looking for the best perennial sunflowers, then why not give some of these a try? Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!