Multi-branched varieties form a quick, annual screen. Dwarf types are suitable for planters and low borders. Cut flower varieties won't drop pollen on table linens.
Moon-walker, an annual, blooms with several pale yellow flowers on top of eight-foot branching stalks. This variety is a good living privacy screen.
Dwarf varieties include Music Box, a branching, two-and-one-half foot tall plant. Music Box produces four-inch flowers in yellow to gold including two-colored blooms. Big Smile grows only one-and-one-half feet tall and produces one, five-inch golden yellow bloom with a brown center. It's a perfect sunflower for containers and flower beds. Other new three-foot dwarfs include teddy bear and Floristan.
Silverleaf, one of the tall sunflower varieties, has silver-green foliage and long lasting, yellow flowers with brown centers. Velvet Queen, another tall sunflower, blooms in burgundy, chestnut-red, mahogany and warm bronze.
Sunrich Lemon and Sunrich Orange grow to five feet and don't shed messy pollen when cut for arrangements.
All sunflowers do best in full sun and grow in a wide range of soils. Avoid high nitrogen soil which encourages plant growth but fewer blooms. Sunflowers can be planted when day and night temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Sunflowers should be watered deeply but infrequently to encourage deep roots and strong stems.
For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension fact sheet(s).
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Updated Tuesday, November 19, 2013