These easy sunflower garden ideas will bring creativity and beauty to your garden design. Bees and butterflies will also enjoy your creative sunflower garden methods as well!
Sunflowers are one of the easiest flowers to grow. All you need are sunflower seeds, loose soil that is well draining, and a full sun location.
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus in Latin) are native to North America and traditionally had many uses for Native Americans. Today we enjoy their cheerful optimism, bold colors and delicious seeds.
They can be planted in a variety of fun ways, adding charm and beauty to your backyard garden.
19 Easy Sunflower Garden Ideas
Uses these easy sunflower garden ideas for inspiration as you plan your garden beds this year:
1. Add Dwarf Sunflowers To Your Flower Beds
Dwarf sunflowers are easy to grow and add charm to your flower beds.
Growing from 12-18 inches tall, they will add character and beauty to your garden. One plant can have many blooms, and these dwarf varieties make excellent flowers for home made bouquets.
They come in many colors ranging from bright orange, muted yellow, and even a deep red.
Plant dwarf sunflower seedlings in full sun and well-drained soil.
*What kind of soil do sunflowers need? Luckily, sunflowers are not picky. While they will grow best in soil rich in organic matter, they can also grow in rocky areas. Soil does need to be well draining in order for sunflowers to thrive. Sunflowers can thrive in poor soil and will bloom from late summer to early fall.
2. Make A Border Out of Tall Sunflowers
Use tall sunflowers as a border around your yard, against a fence or at the back of a garden.
Grown as a hedge, sunflower plants can create a summer privacy screening from neighbors or road traffic. Planted close together, sunflowers are a bold and fun pop of color.
The large leaves provide additional privacy. For an even more dramatic affect, consider planting a border of tall red sunflowers.
3. Plant a Wild Sunflower Garden
Plant a wild sunflower garden for the native bees, butterflies and birds. Consider using wild sunflowers which will have multiple branching heads and many flowers.
These beautiful sunflowers with their bright yellow blooms will attract honey bees, mason bees, butterflies and more!
Let the sunflower heads fall to the ground once the flowers have completed their life cycle, they will become food for hungry birds in late fall and early winter. (This is the cheapest and easiest bird feed you will find!).
Pair your wild sunflowers with other flowers native to your area.
4. Grow Sunflowers In Containers
A sunflower container garden is a sure way to brighten up a small space. Make sure to plant dwarf varieties in containers, as large sunflowers will topple over in pots and containers.
The best varieties of sunflower for container gardening are miniature sunflowers such Elf, Junior or Pacino.
These smaller plants will not get big heavy heads like the tall sunflower varieties, and they will not topple over in their containers.
When grown in containers the soil will dry out more quickly and your sunflower plants will need regular watering to survive the hot summers.
5. Plant En Masse Against A Wooden Fence
Nothing says country charm like a wooden fence with hundreds of sunflowers snuggled up next to it.
Plant a thick cluster of sunflowers against a wooden fence and enjoy the beauty of the bright flowers. In fall this will become your favorite bird watching location, as chickadees, robins and jays all line up to pick seeds from the heavy heads. You can skip the bird feeder!
A white picket fence is the perfect place to plant cheerful sunflowers…consider strawberry blonde sunflowers like for a pretty color contrast.
6. Add Sunflowers To Your Cutting Garden
Dwarf sunflowers make a great addition to the cut flower garden.
Plant them alongside other easy to grow sun loving flowers such as zinnias, cosmos and sweet peas. Dwarf sunflower varieties make a charming floral arrangement, and can last over 7 days in a vase!
The smaller flowers of a dwarf sunflower will not topple over a glass vase (avoid large headed sunflowers for cut flower bouquets).
Make sure to plant these smaller varieties successively throughout early spring and early summer. This will ensure you have a longer blooming season. (Check your last frost date before planting outside!)
Tips for a beautiful sunflower flower arrangement: cut off all leaves that would be submerged beneath the water. Change water in container daily, and keep your arrangement in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
7. Plant A Field Of Sunflowers For A Photo Backdrop
A field of sunflowers is an uplifting sight. And, it can make a beautiful backdrop for photos. Dedicate an area (large or small) and grow a field of sunflowers just to enjoy and take photos of.
8. Grow A Sunflower Fort For The Kids
Do you remember those long summer days playing in an outdoor fort as a child? Nothing is better than those memories of vivid greens and golden sunlight.
And this sunflower garden idea for the kids: consider growing a medium sized patch of sunflowers as a hiding spot or fort. Plant large sunflower seeds about 2-3 feet apart and as the sunflowers grow, they will create a sunflower fort to play in.
Use giant sunflowers so there is lots of room beneath the leaves for fun and play. The kids will play in their sunflower house for hours, and when they tire you can teach them about the life cycle of a sunflower and the many benefits of growing and enjoying flowers.
(By the way, the best way for kids to learn is through experience: they’ll suck up any additional sunflower facts you throw at them!).
9. Plant Sunflowers Down A Path
To add whimsy to your garden, consider planting a wandering sunflower path. Plant your sunflowers down the length of each side of the path to create an enchanting entry way to your garden.
You can do this with any type of sunflower, but we think branching sunflowers look the best. When in full bloom they will create a romantic, secret garden ambiance in your garden.
Experiment with your annual sunflowers… you can always try something different the next year!
10. Frame A Gate Or Pathway
In addition to planting sunflowers along a path, you could also simply frame a garden gate with beautiful sunflowers on either side.
Choose branching sunflower varieties for the biggest impact. The bright yellow sunflowers will be a welcoming invitation to your lush green backyard.
11. Plant Sunflowers Next To Your Vegetable Garden
Don’t forget the vegetable garden! Sunflowers are an ideal choice as companion plants for vegetables.
The most important thing about them: they attract pollinators! This will attract bees and butterflies, as well as other insects, who will gladly visit both the sunflowers and your vegetables.
This will ensure your vegetable plants are pollinated and you end up with edible fruit! Make sure to place tall and giant varieties west of any vegetables so they do not shadow your plants.
12. Grow An English Cottage Style Garden With Sunflowers
An English styled garden features garden beds overflowing with many different types of flowers.
A cottage garden has a mixture of plants with different styles, heights and textures, flowering herbs and edible plants such as sunflowers.
Stagger your sunflowers snugly in between other plants for a cheery burst of color and added height. The tall sunflower stalks and vibrant green leaves will add dimension and contrast when trying to achieve this cozy and welcoming cottage styled garden look.
13. Plant For Repeat Sunflower Blooms
If you want to have sunflower blooms all summer, you have to get a little creative. Start sunflowers from seeds so you have young plants to set out after first frosts and the soil temperature is warm enough.
As you transplant your young sunflower plants, also begin sewing sunflower seeds directly into the ground. Continue planting seeds every two weeks.
These different flowers will bloom at different times, ensuring you have a successive bloom of sunflowers throughout the season.
Plant a variety of different sunflowers so that you get a wide array of blooms and bloom times!
There are many types of sunflowers … truly a flower for any grower! Grown from seeds they are incredibly inexpensive. Fill your garden with different species of sunflowers and enjoy the variety extended growing season.
14. Plant A Vintage Truck Full Of Sunflowers
Do you have an old vintage truck taking up space in your fields? Get creative and fill the bed with dirt and sunflowers! This charming country idea is sure to cause all who pass by to smile. A truck “sunflower bed” is a fun play on words and a perfect way to cheer up your community.
15. Create A Sunflower Specific Garden
Wouldn’t it be magical to feature many different varieties of sunflowers in one place? We sure think so!
Plant a variety of miniature, teddy bear, wild and common sunflowers in the same area. Set up some benches and create a place of solitude and beauty. Make sure to watch the direction of sunlight so that your dwarf varieties are not shaded by your taller plants.
The bees and butterflies will join you in this place of beauty… and so will friends and family members!
Growing tip: protect your sunflowers from high winds if you can. Larger varieties have heavy flower heads, and a high wind can knock them over.
16. Tuck Sunflowers Into Small Areas
Remember that sunflowers are an incredibly hardy plant that can grow almost anywhere. Wild sunflowers re seed themselves and thrive in the most unusual places, such as rocky roadside ditches!
You can tuck sunflowers into those small spaces where a traditional flower garden may not grow. Limited space areas such as the side of the house, next to a sidewalk, or a small backyard can work just fine. Just make sure there is enough sun for your young sunflowers to thrive!
17. Grow A Sunflower Trellis
Grow branching sunflowers along the side of a trellis. As they grow, gently tuck the flower heads in through the trellis to create an arbor of sunflowers.
18. Plant Sunflowers Outside Your Window
For a mesmerizing view plant sunflowers outside of your window. Being able to view sunflowers while washing the dishes or relaxing in the living room is a welcome reprieve from the burdens of life.
As an added bonus, you’ll be able to watch the birds and bees enjoying the sunflowers as well!
19. Grow Perennial Sunflowers In Your Flower Beds
Sunflowers are often grown as annuals, but did you know that there are beautiful perennial varieties? These sunflower varieties will come back year after year.
Stagger perennial sunflowers throughout your flowers beds for extra color, greenery and beauty. A few perennial sunflower varieties to try: Maximillian Perennial Sunflowers, Ashy, and Beach.
Different Kinds Of Sunflowers
What type of sunflower should you use for your backyard garden? It depends on what you are trying to accomplish!
The type you choose to plant will impact the style and feel of your garden. Here are some common varieties and how you can use them in your garden space:
- Dwarf (Miniature) Sunflowers: Quaint and charming, dwarf sunflowers are a great way to add charm to the garden. Miniature sunflowers work well in a garden bed or container around 24-30 inches tall. Consider the popular small varieties Twilight Zone or Topolino.
- Perennial Sunflowers: This variety of sunflowers will come back year after year! Charming in a cottage styled garden and can be grown in large containers. Maximilian is a popular perennial variety that has hundreds of daisy like blooms on branching stems. There are about 38 varieties of perennial sunflowers.
- Giant Sunflowers: Giant sunflowers are typically grown as annual flowers. Like their name implies, they can grow quite tall and their heads can be huge! Giant sunflowers are often grown alongside gardens. The popular Mammoth variety can grow up to 12 feet tall.
- Wild Sunflowers: Wild sunflowers, also known as a common sunflower, are often seen growing in native areas. They have multiple branching stems and would look lovely grown alongside a fence or overflowing in an unused open space.
In addition to different heights and growing habits, sunflowers come in many colors as well. Pink, deep red, orange and yellow and many shades thereof are available.
FAQ’s On Sunflowers
Yes, growing sunflowers in the backyard is very easy. Sunflowers are heat and drought resistant and do not require special soil. They need full sun to thrive and can be grown in small places, making them perfect for the backayrd.
Perennial varieties of sunflowers will come back year after year. Many sunflowers are grown as an annual, and these types of sunflowers will need to be replanted each spring.
To create a sunflower garden, first choose a variety of sunflowers to plant. Select a full sun area and follow the seed planting instructions on your packet. Plant after frosts have passed and soil temperatures are warm. Water in your seeds and wait for them to grow. By mid summer you will have a thriving sunflower garden.
Sunflowers will grow to maturity in just one season. If you plant your seed in the spring, it will grow into a sunflower plant, bloom, and then die when winter frosts hit. Read our life cycle of a sunflower guide here.