Dwarf Sunflowers: A Care Guide For Gardeners

Dwarf Sunflowers A Care Guide For Gardeners

Last Updated on January 27, 2022

Sunflowers are glorious flowers that are perfect for brightening up any gardens, however, they are quite big, aren’t they? Well, there is a solution. Why not grow the dwarf sunflower variety? 

Dwarf sunflowers are simply mini versions of their bigger equivalent. They may be little, but they develop amazing and vibrant yellow blooms.

The blossom heads are a few inches and typically grow 3 feet (0.91 m) tall or often shorter. Nevertheless, they look the same as normal sunflowers, just with a height difference. 

What makes these flowers unique is that they often have several blooms per plant, which makes them an excellent enhancement to any type of garden.

Let’s look at this plant in more detail. 

History

Sunflowers come from southern America, but through cultivation, from the 1500s they could be found all over the world. Initially, they were cultivated by American Indian tribes. The seeds were ground down to make flour that was then used for cake and bread making. 

The flower is found in several forms, sizes, and colors. Throughout the years, scientists have  created hybrids that have developed specific qualities. The flower is popular for its beautiful yellow appearance and extensive crop. 

The sunflower is also known as  Helianthus annuus (its botanical name). It belongs to the Asteraceae family. Its name originates from the Greek words, “helios” and also “anthos” which means  “sun” as and “blossom”.

Dwarf sunflowers are a crossbreed range and are a result of specific breeding that has made them comparably smaller than full-size sunflowers. 

Expanding Zones/ Conditions

Dwarf sunflowers thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 2-11. When grown in these areas, flowers will bloom from summer till very early fall. You can grow some later in the season where you can enjoy continual flowers. 

How and where to grow 

Dwarf sunflowers have extraordinary adaptability when it comes to growing locations.  These flowers can grow in both indoor and outdoor places, so it depends on personal choice. If you decide to keep them indoors, they will need a bright space away from the windows. 

Because they grow more extensively than other variations, they are perfect for pots and containers. It is essential to ensure that they have enough room to grow comfortably.  These sunflowers can likewise be planted straight into blossom beds.

Dimension

Dwarf ranges usually grow between 1 and  2 feet (0.61 m), but occasionally they can get to about 4 feet (1.22 m) in height. If you decide to grow these miniature sunflowers, you should expect them to remain below 3 feet (0.91 m). 

Soil type

Dwarf sunflowers are best grown in light, nutrient-rich,  well-draining soil.  When grown in containers, create some drainage openings at the bottom. 

It’s useful to remember that their root systems are shorter and extra coarse than other varieties, so they are unlikely to grow too deep nto the soil. 

Light, Water, and Fertilization Requirements

For optimal growth, these plants must get between 6 and 8 hours of sunshine daily. They are called ‘sunflowers’ because that is exactly what they need. They can cope with some shorter periods without light, but they will be less vibrant as a result. 

Sunflowers require a moderate amount of water. If grown in containers, you’ll have to sprinkle the plants a lot more regularly. To guarantee that your plant flowers often, an adequate water supply is crucial.

Use a slow-release, well-balanced fertilizer from time to time to keep the plant healthy and balanced. Change the soil regularly and add compost or various other nutrients. Squeeze off yellow or brownish fallen leaves to keep them looking at their best.

Growing tips

Dwarf Sunflowers A Care Guide For Gardeners

The seeds typically are grown in late springtime outdoors, however can be started at home anytime. 

Mix equivalent quantities of sand and peat moss, fill up the flats with the combination and put water over the mix till it is completely moistened. Place the seeds 1/2 inch down and around seven inches apart in the mix.

The soil temperature must be warm. Splash the soil with warm water if it’s too dry. The seeds should sprout within two to 5 days, creating cute dwarf sunflower plants.

Potting

After the dwarf sunflower plants develop two leaves, they can be transplanted directly into 6-inch containers. The seedlings typically take a couple of weeks to grow the leaves.

Place the plants on west or south-facing window where they are able to receive a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily. If you don’t have one available, then the next best thing is an east-facing window and use some form of fluorescent light.  

You can use a couple of full-spectrum tubes or LED lights that have been designed for growing plants. Design a way of moving the lights up and down as the plants grow. Plug into a timer and set it to work for 10-15 hours per day. You should also protect plants from heating ducts and air conditioning units. 

Ongoing care 

Dwarf sunflowers can endure drought but flourish in soil that is kept a little moist at all times. Maintaining the soil with water (without waterlogging)  is particularly vital during the initial weeks of growth.

Squeezing off the ends of the dwarf sunflower branches as they expand helps the plants produce bushier leaves and generate more extensive flowers. It also helps dwarf sunflowers that normally generate limited flowers per stalk to produce extra blooms. 

Provide the plant’s water-soluble plant food once a week, around a quarter of a teaspoon for every quarter of water. Apply to the soil after watering. 

Diseases

Occasionally sunflowers are affected by the disease, but it isn’t common. These plants are commonly fairly hardy. They may sometimes suffer from leaf spot that causes yellow patches on the leaf area, but this is rare. Mildew and rot may be a problem sometimes but again not often. 

The biggest danger to sunflowers is Sclerotinia stem rot, also referred to as white mold. These fungi can trigger abrupt wilting of leaves, stem cankers, and also root or head rot. Plant rotation can minimize the chance of this disease developing, along with always using the correct watering techniques.

Pests

As is the case with diseases, there aren’t many pests that typically bother dwarf sunflowers, however those that do create chaos in multitudes. The most common threats to sunflowers are as follows: 

Sunflower Beetles

Sunflower beetles generally prey on the leaves of the sunflowers and don’t cause damage in older plants.  However, on more youthful sunflower plants, the early leaves can be damaged or completely eliminated by these little annoying beetles.

Sunflower beetles are easy to identify. They are rounded beetles with a head that is brown-red in color. In addition, they have wings that are creamy and covered in reddish-brown red stripes. The larvae have round green bodies. These pests are specific to North America and are the biggest danger to sunflowers.

Beetles are usually controlled by other insects such as ladybugs who eat the eggs, reducing their reproduction abilities. Lacewings consume the eggs and the larvae so we can thank them for that. 

How can you protect your plants? Reasecth online for deterrents that are available such as oil sprays that you mix with water and spray on young plants, this should keep the critters at bay. 

Sunflower borers and stem maggots.

These pests can burrow into sunflower stems and feed on the plant. This can rapidly eliminate the greenery and various other parts of the plant. 

Grasshoppers

Insects and also various caterpillars additionally appreciate munching on sunflower vegetation. While rarely a major issue, lots can swiftly defoliate plants. 

Cutworms

Cutworms can cause damage to the leaves of young plants, and a telltale sign is little holes or notes on the leaf surface. Wilting may likewise happen. These are not usually significant or common problems but use some products to help prevent infestation. How else can you identify a cutworm? 

There are many species of cutworms that love to feast on the sunflower plant. In fact, farmers are often advised to create a Helianthus border around fields or gardens to lure cutworms away from other crops. 

You can spot these little creatures through the damage they create on leaves. Leaves will look as though they have been chewed and will wilt quite heavily. Cutworms earned their name due to the habit of snipping off the plant from the soil line. A giveaway sign indeed. 

Sunflower Moths

Sunflower moths are among one of the most devastating parasites to sunflowers, They lay their eggs within the blossoms. When the eggs hatch out the larvae destroys the flower head destroying the entire plant. 

The grown-up moths resemble little light brown-grey cigars. Additionally, the larvae are brownish with long white red stripes.

The grownups are mostly nocturnal, relaxing under the leaves throughout the day. They lay eggs on the flower bed. Look for dark frass, otherwise known as bug poop and also webbing on the blossom heads, which shows the larvae are feeding inside.

Young larvae feed upon pollen, while older larvae prey on the flower head cells seeds. Larvae feeding damage creates an infection risk from Rhizopus fungi, which will damage the heads of the flowers. 

Bug control in sunflower plants includes prevention. Maintaining the location free of weeds can assist. Damages can also be prevented by treating the area with a preventative product before sunflower insects end up being well established.

Planting later in the season may also help prevent any issues. While there are lots of chemical-based insecticides to use, it’s best to opt for natural insecticides, which are deemed more environmentally friendly. 

Caterpillars 

The larvae of the gorgeous Vanessa cardui caterpillar loves feasting on sunflowers. 

They can be identified in several shades from black to light green, and they have a  stripe down both sides that branches back all over their bodies. The larvae eat the leaves, producing irregular openings, and also covers themselves with webbing.

Damage is generally marginal and doesn’t usually need treating, but it’s good to know what is feeding on your valuable plants and reassure yourself it’s nothing sinister, they are actually gorgeous insects.  If these bugs do end up being a problem, manage them as you would sunflower moths.

Sunflowers truly are beautiful plants and if you plant them correctly and look after them, they will provide a wonderful addition to your outside space. 

Scroll to Top