Like sun rays peeping their cheery faces from the garden, dwarf sunflowers add a splash of joy and vibrancy to your summer blooms.
Native to North America, sunflowers have been revered for thousands of years for their rich seeds, beautiful pigments, and ability to attract pollinators. Read our article about the anatomy of sunflowers here.
Blooming from July through fall, sunflowers are one of the easiest and most agreeable flowers to grow.
Unlike their commonly known big sisters (regular size sunflowers), miniature sunflowers are petite and easy to tuck into small patches of the garden. Typically growing less than 3 feet tall, they won’t cast a shadow on other sun loving flowers.
And instead of rows of drooping heavy flower heads, dwarf sunflowers provide cute pops of color that make wonderful cut flowers.
Today, we’ll be dishing all about dwarf sunflowers. These flowers couldn’t be easier to grow, so grab a spade and let’s dig in!
Why You’ll Love Them:
There are many reasons to love these charming little sunflowers. Here are 9 reasons you’ll love them:
- Dwarf sunflowers are easy to grow
- Because of their ease, mini sunflowers are a great first flower for kids or novice gardeners
- They are not picky about soil type and are low maintenance
- Great pollinators (bees love them)
- Dwarf sunflowers add cheer and color to flower beds
- Mini sunflowers make great cut flowers
- Can easily be grown in containers
- Long blooming, with each sunflower head lasting 30 to 45 days
About Mini Sunflowers
Dwarf sunflowers are available in a rainbow of colors including bright to light yellow, orange, and red. Many varieties are the color of a sunset: yellow with orange red fading towards the ends.
The centers are dark hues of brown or dark green, eventually bursting with sunflower seeds.
These gorgeous little beauties grace flower zones 2-11, making them adaptable to many climates.
Dwarf sunflowers are a sun loving annual, known for being easy to grow and adaptive to containers and beds. They look beautiful grown en masse for an impressive display of cheerfulness and beauty.
Mini suns are available in branching varieties which yield many blooms from one plant, or plants with just one bloom. They are an inexpensive and incredibly easy flower to grow in a cottage garden.
Read on to learn how to plant and care for dwarf sunflowers.
How To Plant Dwarf Sunflower Seeds
Dwarf sunflower seeds can be planted when the weather has warmed up and all danger of frost is gone. You can sew your seeds directly into soil or into pots. As their name implies, mini sunflowers crave full sun!
Simple steps to planting dwarf sunflower seeds:
- Choose a sunny spot that gets at lest 6 hours of sunlight
- Plant 2-3 sunflower seeds 1/2 inch in well draining soil. Pat down firmly
- Continue planting 12 to 18 inches apart
- Let soil dry out between regular watering
- Dwarf sunflowers take approximately 10 days to sprout
- Once seedlings are a few inches tall, thin to your strongest sunflower start by cutting the weak starts (do not pull them out as this can disturb soil from other sunflowers)
Notes On Planting Dwarf Sunflowers:
Even if your soil is not nutrient dense, you can try planting sunflowers. Make sure to loosen the ground and add drainage if needed for best results.
Water your sunflower seeds regularly during the first two weeks, letting the ground dry out in between.
Wait until after heavy spring rains have passed to plant in order to prevent rot. Dwarf sunflowers take 7 to 14 days to germinate, depending on climate and weather.
Plant Care + Watering
One of the reasons dwarf sunflowers are so popular is because they are low maintenance! Once established, dwarf sunflowers just need sun and some watering. No fertilizing needed.
Dwarf sunflowers are drought tolerant, however they do best with regular watering.
Let ground dry out between watering, then soak.
Dwarf Sunflower Varieties
There are many dwarf sun flower varieties, boasting an array of selection in height, color and bloom style. We are outlining our favorites for you here.
Distino mix is the seed to buy if you want lots of color. This non branching variety boasts petals with light yellow, orange, darker yellow and red. They are a petite dwarf, measuring in at less then 24 inches high.
If you are looking for a classic looking miniature sunflower, yellow pygmy is the variety for you. With bright yellow blooms, yellow pygmy dwarf sunflowers grows to just 18 inches. These mimic the traditional sunflower perfectly, and are great for vases.
Mardi Gras Dwarf
Mardi Gras is a colorful variety branching variety that boasts hues of orange, yellow and maroon, and reaches 2 to 3 feet tall with blooms that measure 5 inches in diameter.
Options abound for beautiful miniature dwarf sunflowers, so take some time to research and experiment. The beautiful thing about gardening is that you can try new flowers each season. Grow, experiment, and enjoy!
Where To Buy
You can purchase dwarf sunflower seeds at local nurseries, box stores, and online from nurseries and through Amazon. Sometimes dwarf seeds can be a challenge to find locally, but with a little planning can be purchased in advance of the season through an online grower.
Growing Dwarf Sunflowers In Pots + Containers
Miniature sunflowers are incredibly easy to grow in pots! Just remember that each plant needs about 12-18 inches between other plants to thrive, so space accordingly.
Your container size will need to reflect the variety of dwarf sunflower you are planting. The bigger the variety, the larger a container needed.
Dwarf sunflowers can be the star of a beautiful flower container. Use lobelia, million bells, or calibrachoa to spill over the edges of your pot, then have your dwarf sunflower be the star of the show in the middle!
Blue lobelia would look especially lovely paired with miniature sunflowers.
How To Deadhead Sunflowers
Will dwarf sunflowers produce more sunflowers when deadheaded?
Most sunflowers have a set number of flowers and will not produce new shoots and blooms as say a prolific blooming zinnia would when deadheaded.
However, deadheading your sunflowers can encourage the energy of the plant to go into the other blooms on branching varieties, resulting in fuller blooms.
To deadhead dwarf sunflowers, simply follow the head back to the first set of leaves and deadhead there.
Make sure to use a set of clean, sanitized clippers or scissors when deadheading.
You can also simply let the sunflower head go to seed and then eat them yourself or feed them to the birds!
Dwarf Sunflower Care
Here are 5 easy tips for caring for dwarf sunflowers. These tips will help you make the most of your dwarf sunflowers:
- Use a water hose to gently water at the base of the dwarf sunflower. This allows your sunflower head to thrive and last longer, by preventing rot and preserving the sunflower petals
- When planting, be sure to plant 2 seeds per hole. This ensures that you will have a seed that actually sprouts.
- Plant in full sun! True to their name, sunflowers really do crave the light and do best in all day sun, at least 6 to 8 hours.
- Plant different varieties each year and take notes on your favorites.
- As sunflowers wilt and fade, keep your plant healthy and encourage energy to go into the current blooms by deadheading spent blooms.
Do Dwarf Sunflowers Come Back?
Dwarf sunflowers are an annual, meaning that the plant will freeze and die at the end of the season. Before dying, the plant may drop seeds and you may see “volunteer” sunflowers the following year!
But more often than not, seeds will be taken by wind, birds, or rot, so it’s good to plan for next years planting.
You can try collecting seeds and replanting the following year, but often seeds will go back to the original sunflower. So investing in a few packs of seeds each season is a wise idea.
How To Extend Your Sunflower Harvest
To extend your dwarf sunflower harvest and enjoy blooms for cutting and viewing all summer long, simply plant additional seeds at two week intervals.
As soon as the ground warms up, plant your first set of dwarf sunflowers. From there, continue to plant seeds every few weeks as space and time allows.
“Ah Sunflower, weary of time… Who countest the steps of the sun; Seeking after that sweet golden clime… Where the traveler journey is done.” – William Blake
Dwarf sunflowers go well with many other flowers and plants! They encourage pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, so be sure to plant some near or in the garden beds.
They also go well with other sun loving annuals such as zinnias, cosmos, and wild flower mixes.
Yellow and blue compliment each other, so use your dwarf sunflowers to accent delphinium, blue sage, and lavender.
If you are looking for a cheerful, easy flower to try this season, dwarf sunflowers are your go to gal.
Brightening up the flower beds, they attract pollinators and are excellent to plant alongside vegetable gardens. Looking incredible as cut flowers in vases, dwarf sunflowers are fun for kids and adults alike to enjoy.
Are you growing dwarf sunflowers this year? We’d love to hear about your favorite variety!