Sunflowers are known for evoking a feeling of positivity because of their large, yellow blooms. They stand tall—taller than many other garden blooms—and always seem to perk up our moods. You may already be a fan of these familiar sunny flowers, but did you know that sunflowers can grow up to 12 feet tall in as little as six months, or how tall the current world-record holder is?
Interesting facts about the amazing sunflowers that you may not have known include:
- Sunflowers need full sun and rich, well-drained soil to reach their maximum height.
- To protect sunflower seeds from birds, place a mesh bag or nylon stocking over the bloom until the seeds ripen.
- Sunflowers can remove toxins, such as lead, arsenic, and uranium, from contaminated soil. They are a natural decontaminator of soils and have been used to clean up soil at some of the world’s biggest environmental disasters, including Chernobyl and Fukushima.
- Sunflower oil is packed with calcium and iron and contains vitamins A and D.
History and Geography
- Sunflowers are native to the Americas.
- Historically, they have been used for medicine, dye, food, and oil, and were exported around 1500.
- The sunflower is the state flower of Kansas and the national flower of Ukraine.
- The giant flower on sunflowers is made up of many tiny blooms. The center of the sunflower, where the seeds develop, is made up of tiny blossoms that bees love.
- Speaking of the inside of a sunflower, it is made from smaller flowers; the outer petals are known as ray florets. The seeds in the middle have male and female sex organs and can produce seeds. They self-pollinate or attract pollen from wind and insects.
- Sunflowers typically grow between 5 and 12 feet tall (not counting cute little dwarf sunflowers.) They can reach full height in as little as six months.
- Several people have set world records for large or tall sunflowers. The current world record for tallest sunflower was set in 2014, at a towering 30 feet, 1 inch, grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer in Germany.
- Sunflowers attract bees, making them useful in areas where people are beekeeping and looking to attract more bees.
- At the bud stage, sunflowers exhibit a unique trait called heliotropism, with which the bud of the sunflower faces the sun at all times throughout the day, starting the day facing east and ending it facing west.
- Not all sunflower petals are yellow. There are more than 60 varieties of sunflowers that live around the world—some of these varieties have striped petals. Some sunflowers also have different interior shades.
- The French word for sunflower is tournesol, which translates literally to “turned sun,” referring to the plant’s ability to turn itself to face the sun.
- The sunflower is the only flower with the word “flower” in its name.
- Got a sunflower that no longer has seeds on the inside? You can use the head of the sunflower as a natural scrubbing tool!