Top Ten Reasons to Grow Sunflowers

Sunflowers are a delight in any garden. They do most of their growing up, not out and they don’t require a lot of fuss. They can grow from a seed to as tall as 25 feet (average is six feet) in just ninety days. What’s not to love?

Here are my top ten reasons to grow sunflowers:

1. They’re easy to grow once they germinate. I’ve solved my squirrel-digging problem by covering them with screen savers until the seedlings take root.

sunflower seeds under screen saver

Sunflower seeds undercover

2. Sunflowers are bee magnets. We need all the bees we can get. You can read more about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) here.

sunflower and yellow bee

Bees grace the garden

bee and sunflower

Bee in flight

3. Mood enhancers. It’s nearly impossible to stroll past a strong, lemon-yellow flower and not smile.

pom pom sunflower

Joy in every bloom

4. Sunflowers are tall. Growing a flower you can look up to is always fun when you’re 5’10” (177 cm).

sunflower six feet

Six foot sunflowers

5. Bird watching.  Lesser Goldfinches like to eat sunflower leaves. They start low on the plant and move up, so apparently the more established leaves are the delicacy. After a few meals, the leaves look like lace.

sunflower bird collage

Lesser Goldfinch and a well-nibbled sunflower leaf

6. Grow your own privacy screen. What’s not to like about a flowering fence/privacy screen to keep things cozy on the front deck?

sunflower fence

Grow a summer privacy screen in no time

7. Self-healing. I came home a month ago and found one of the flower heads in my driveway, ‘harvested’ before its time. The plant generated several new flowers half way down the stalk of the plant.  That was a nice surprise.

sunflower forced growth

Sunflowers get a second life

8. Free entertainment outside your kitchen window. I parked my camera on the kitchen counter this weekend, ready for my seed-eating guests.  Squirrel antics make me smile.

squirrel snacking on sunflowers front deck

The real reason we grow sunflowers

9. Plenty of seeds to share. Each flower head produces hundreds of seeds, leaving plenty for harvesting and roasting, planting and sharing with the birds and squirrels.

squirrel eating pumpkin seeds

May I offer you some seeds?

10. Planting sunflowers gave me an excuse to publish a top-ten list.

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43 thoughts on “Top Ten Reasons to Grow Sunflowers

  1. Reason 11: Sharing your knowledge! I did not know Lesser Goldfinches [or any birds really] ate the leaves! I always thought they were going after insects. Isn’t it amazing how you can live forever and be completely uninformed about the feeding habits of some birds!

    Your list is a great reason to keep right on growing these lovely flowers. Watching the squirrels go after the seeds must be amazing too. I love your close-up of the bee on the flower too. Great post Alys! xoxo

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    • I love Reason 11. I mentioned to Boomdee that I may have enough for another list. 12 is trendy.

      I also assumed the birds were eating seeds from the leaves, but I checked over and over and never saw any. Then when I compared photos from earlier in the summer and this week, I realized it was the same type of bird each time. I’m curious as to why since most birds eat seeds, worms, insects and nectar. They must be pretty darn tasty.

      I love watching nature at work in the garden. It’s one of the greatest pleasures. I may invest in a wide straw hat and a camouflage suit so I can park myself outside and take pictures undetected. My best squirrel shots are taken through the window. The bees on the other hand are happy to let me poke the camera into the shrubbery. They don’t seem to mind my proximity at all.

      Thanks for your enthusiastic words, Pauline. I always look forward to your comments.

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      • Do you think it is only those finches who ever eat leaves? I could maybe understand if they went after the new tender leaves, but you mentioned they went for the older ones [I hope I remembered that right?] I am so intrigued by this new information, my Virgo is kicking in and I want to KNOW WHY!! 😀

        I always wanted a big wide straw hat to wear in the garden – my YD once had a dream about me in one, working on a painting on an easel in a summer garden. Alas, that has never come true. I could just see you in one – it would have a bit of netting on it too, just in case there were lots of bees around …. and maybe the squirrels would think you were a mobile nest and stick around to watch you!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Here’s another blog discussing the same issue: http://atowhee.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/green-backed-leaf-cutter/

          And yes, they land on the lower rows and eat those first, then move their way up.

          When is your birthday, Pauline? Have I missed it?

          I had a wide straw hat many years ago and it was completely impractical. I couldn’t sit in it without the back rim getting caught under my back and lifting the hat off my head. It also lifted off in the breeze, a la The Flying Nun from the sixties. I rarely wore it and eventually gave it away for something more practical. It was cute though.

          Oh I can just picture you painting in a straw hat. That’s a lovely image.

          Many years ago we had a squirrel feeder filled with peanuts. I could feed the squirrels by hand, though in retrospect probably shouldn’t have. I still have all ten fingers. My neighbor took over and it seemed silly to duplicate efforts. I saw one yesterday drinking water from a crack in the patio and I felt sad for the water challenges all the critters face this year. We’re keeping our small fountain going so they can get a drink.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Wow – she caught them at it – proof positive! I remain amazed – I often find myself asking these days how can I have lived for so many years and not know these things? Blogging is making me very aware that I know very little! This is probably a very good thing to know!! 🙂 No, you haven’t missed my birthday 🙂

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            • I’m now caught up on your proper birthday, thank you. 🙂

              There is so much to know in this world. It’s what keeps us interested and engaged I believe.

              You know a lot more than most, so please don’t sell yourself short.

              Have you seen the joke about asking a teenager for advice? “Do it quickly while they still know everything.”

              Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve inspired me to go out and get some sunflower seeds and plant them in The Oasis Out The Front Door, Alys. Now all I need is to import some cute little squirrels to go with them! Ha! xoxoxoxox

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  3. I have lots of sunflowers growing over here too and have lots of bees too! I agree, the yellow finches just love the sunflowers and I never see these birds until I grow sunflowers. I had to net everything too, to keep the chippies and the deer away from eating my sunflowers. I did not net the three I had in front of our kitchen window, and the deer ate them one night! Ug. Sunflowers are such a “happy” flower and they always make me smile. You are just like me….I would have parked myself in the window too, just to grab some good photographs of the squirrel! Silly squirrels! ❤

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    • I don’t envy you the deer problems. I think they’re adorable, but I know they reek havoc on a garden, especially one as lush and green as yours. You’ve gone above and beyond to produce a beautiful garden safe from most pests.

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      • Aw, thank you for the lovely comment. I have done my best this season to keep the garden going. Just this morning when I was taking the dogs out, the deer nipped off the top of one of my sunflowers and I found it on the ground. Darn deer!

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          • Oh yeah…I just plant everything for THEM! Not! (lol) But, I can’t stay up all night and chase them out of the yard either. It’s a bummer, but it’s nature!

            By the way, I have a funny story for you. I was in Kmart the other day purchasing a new collar for Nikita. I saw this little old man loading four 40 lb. bags of dog food into his cart. I had to ask him “what kind of dog do you have?” He answered: “I don’t have a dog!” I was puzzled and was afraid to continue further, but I had to ask him “then what is all the dog food for? He said that all of this dog food will feed the deer in his yard all winter. I was shocked. He feeds the deer dog food! I was speechless.

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  4. Have you noticed that Sunflowers seem to be all the rage? I’m seeing them everywhere this summer. They kind of remind me of cartoon flowers (in a good way), being that they’re so giant compared to everything else in the garden. The best part for me would be the little squirrels visiting. Their little tummies look so soft, don’t you wish you could pet one? I had a visitor in our yard two days ago. Our garage roof comes to a peak in the centre and she was sitting at the very top looking right down at me. She had her little hands clasped together while I was saying hello. I think we had a moment. Then she squeaked and ran down the back. I saw her hop onto the fence and disappear. I was so happy 😀 Yours did so amazing in that location this year. Will you plant there again next year? Your deck becomes a little secret hideout, cute 😀 xoxox k

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    • Oh…that could be number 12 behind Pauline’s 11. I may have enough for a second list by the end of the day: Trendy flowers.

      The visiting squirrels are a delight. They entertain like no other. I wish I could look them in the eye and say “if you’ll leave these seeds in the ground now, I’ll have hundreds for you to eat in a few short months.”

      They are so soft-looking, aren’t they?

      I’m glad you’ve had a visitor in your garden. Will you put out winter treats when the snow descends, or will they be deep under cover hibernating? I guess that was a silly question, eh.

      So, as much as I loved planting them along the deck, I was able to do so because the Mexican Sage was still small. Now that the plants are deck height, I don’t think the seeds would get enough light to germinate. another thoughts (shhhhhh) is to remove a stripe of lawn and plant them in front of the sage. They’re only around three months, whereas the sage will grow year round, though dormant for a few months. Thoughts to consider. I could also try them in my EarthBoxes since I decided to take a year off from growing pumpkins. Those squash bugs will simply have to move on. Today, believe it or not, I found several eggs glistening on the inside of my candle holder. Now that the pumpkins are gone, they’ve laid seeds on metal. Crazy!

      I did like the privacy screen. It made the deck feel cozy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your squirrel question isn’t silly, I had to think about that. We sometimes saw squirrels in the winter at the lake on a nice sunny day. I’m sure they do hunker down in a cozy nest somewhere for the cold snaps which can be ridiculously long. I would love to leave out something for them, but unfortunately they kind of snacks they like also feed the local magpies and crows which are the pits to listen too. I’ll have to see what kind of feeder might work for squirrels but not the noisy big birds.

        I don’t know why I’m amazed your mexican sage is grown up to deck height already, ha. Gardening in California is so different than here. Things take 2 or 3 years to get established because summer growing days are so limited. I wonder what this winter will bring…yeesh, not too far away :/ xo

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        • Oh, I’m not ready for winter to bury your beautiful garden and your lovely home. Didn’t it just leave?

          I”m glad you have plans to get away during the colder months. It’s nice to have that to look forward to.

          Even for California, the sage grows fast. The one at the curb is huge and getting by without a single drop of water. Amazing.

          It’s funny to hear that the crows and magpies are the nuisance there. Here everyone tries to discourage the squirrels at the bird feeder. Unfortunately the crows here are more likely to raid birds nests. It’s sad to see and is apparently becoming a real problem. It’s all about balance, isn’t it? xox

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Love all your sunflower pictures and reasons to grow them! The squirrel shots are cute. The idea of covering the seedlings is good. I’ll have to try a bit harder next year as I only got one flower this year!

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    • I’ve tried direct seed without cover and transplant from indoors. The direct seed netted almost nothing. Those seeds proved irresistible. Indoors they were too leggy and I ended up with leggy, weak plants. But once I figured out how to plant them and immediately cover them, I had great success. Good luck next year!

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  6. This was a happy visit. Sunflowers are great frown chasers. You are right, you must be happy looking at them. I know nothing about birds but that was an interesting tidbit. Vegetarian birds??? Hmm, Maybe next spring I’ll give them a go. Going to turn those beds here as soon as the heat breaks. It’s been intense this year. It’s amazing the photos you get. I’m finally getting time to really look at this place. It’s been a race against the clock for the last 2 months. Wish I could get photos of the bats that zip past my head at 5 a.m. 🙂

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    • Bats!? Oh that sounds really cool. Are they living behind your house, Marlene? They move fast, don’t they.

      I’m glad to hear your enjoyed the visit. Sorry to hear it is still so hot. Did you hear that Victoria is rationing water, too? Crazy, crazy weather everywhere.

      I hope you’re beginning to enjoy the fruits of your labor at home. I see I’ve missed one of your posts. I’m trying to catch up after my eight day time away. Looking forward to reading what you’re up to.

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  7. Love the Top Ten (and 11 and 12 with Pauline’s addition and your Trendy). Mine, sadly never made it but I am now determined to grow some next year … for reason #3!

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  8. Those are beautiful photos! And great reasons to grow sunflowers! I don’t have any!!! This seems very sad now LOL. I didn’t know those goldfinch ate the leaves. I see them here eating the seeds of the catnip/catmint everyday. I had no idea they liked seeds like that-so used to just seeing them at the feeder.

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  9. I absolutely adore sunflowers, Alys, and every year I plant handfuls of seeds with high expectations. And every year the fella who cuts the grass finds a way to accidentally kill them. I’m pretty sure he has a bone to pick with happiness.
    But your photos have made my facial muscles spasm. Turns out, there’s a limit to how far a person can attempt to stretch a smile. I love that squirrel. He is truly adorkable.
    Fabulous post. 😀

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    • Oh dear. That’s not a happy story at all. Do they make it from seed to seedling or is it possible the squirrels are making off with the seeds?

      I’m glad my sunflowers planted a smile on your face. My work here is done. 🙂

      Thank you, thank you!

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      • Funny enough, where I live, the squirrels do not venture as high. It really is the lawn fellow. I think he waits to see them get about knee high and sprout a head and then accidentally weed wacks them to death.
        This must change next year. I need the warmth and joy from a happy sunflower face.
        But yes, Alys, yours have filled that space wonderfully from far away. 😀

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        • Weed-whacking sunflowers is a special kind of mean. I’ll bet Rob could come up with a colorful cartoon to go with that tag line.

          You do indeed need the warmth and joy of a sunflower.

          No squirrels, eh? What do you do for entertainment then?

          Like

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