Top 10 types of Sunflowers

How Many Types of Sunflowers Are There?

There are more than 70 different sunflowers in different sizes and colors. The common annual sunflower bears a yellow bloom. Yet, other varieties can come in shades of golden yellow, red, orange, bronze, ruby red, or sometimes white. Helianthus annuus is the most cultivated variety of sunflower. 

Below are some of the most common varieties of sunflowers. 

Common name Scientific name Facts 
American giant Helianthus annuus ‘American Giant.’It is an evergreen annual native to America and commonly grown in Mexico and southern Canada. It blooms with yellow flowers in summer. Russian Mammoth Helianthus annuus ‘Russian Mammoth.’It is native to North America, and it flaunts a golden yellow flower in late summer or early fall. The flower lasts only three weeks. 
Teddy bear Helianthus annuus ‘Teddy bear.’It is a low-maintenance annual sunflower perfect for cottage gardens. It flaunts golden yellow pompoms in mid and late-summer.
Strawberry Blonde Helianthus annuus ‘Strawberry Blonde.’ It is a low-maintenance annual suitable for perennial borders. It displays large blooms with multi-color petals in summer.  
Italian or branching sunflower Helianthus ‘Italian White’It is a branching annual sunflower that mainly grows in Singapore. It blooms in summer with white, pale yellow, or pale cream flowers. 
Top 10 Types of Sunflowers
Types of Sunflowers


What Is the Most Common Type of Sunflower?

Helianthus annuus, also known as the common sunflower, is the most common and popular sunflower grown in gardens. It is a fast-growing and low-maintenance annual that boasts large heart-shaped hairy leaves and produces large flowers, about 12 inches across. The bright yellow petals surround a chocolate brown central disc. It has stiff upright stems that bear the bloom that seems to be following the sun. 

  • It prefers moderately fertile, evenly moist, well-drained soil rich in humus and has an alkaline or neutral pH
  • It blooms best in full sun exposure 
  • It grows about 3 to 10 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide 
  • It is resistant to deer but attracts bees, butterflies, and birds

What Is the Rarest Sunflower?

Schweinitz’s sunflower is the rarest sunflower variety worldwide. It is an endangered perennial herb native to the Piedmont region in North and South Carolina. It can grow in poor, shallow, and clay soils. It has narrow lance-like leaves and yellow bloom heads. It has a solitary purple stem that branches midway or above. 

  • It grows about 1 to 2 meters tall from carrot-looking tuberous roots where the shoots sprout
  • The branches leave the main stem at a 45-degree angle
  • It thrives in moist or dry soil with a considerable gravel content
  • It performs well in full sun exposure

Schweinitz’s sunflower grows in open lands, unlike the typical Carolina landscape currently. It was first listed as endangered in 1991. 

The top 10 types of Sunflower

1. American Giant Sunflower

ten types of sunflowers

The American giant is the choice for anyone looking for an extra tall sunflower that bears extra-large bloom heads. It is a fast-growing annual evergreen sunflower that achieves 8 to 15 feet of mature height. The blooms can grow up to about 1 foot across. It has such sturdy stems they look like it will fall from the intense summer winds.

  • Plant the seed ½ inch deep and 3 to 4 inches apart
  • It spreads about 36 to 40 inches 
  • The seeds take 7 to 10 days to germinate after sowing
  • It requires full sun exposure for the best blooms
  • Its lovely yellow flowers appear in summer
  • It attracts bees, butterflies, birds, and beneficial insects

2. Chianti Sunflower 

top 10 types of sunflowers

It is a succulent annual sunflower that can grow indoors or outdoors in different conditions. It grows as an outdoors sunflower in parts of America like Florida and Alabama. It is easy to grow since you only need to sow the seeds directly after the last frost danger. It disperses seeds that grow the following season independently. If you do not want self-sowing seeds, consider deadheading.

  • It grows best in well-drained soil with slightly acidic, neutral, or slightly alkaline 
  • It grows about 4 to 5 feet tall
  • It requires minimal maintenance with moderate water regularly. Avoid overwatering 
  • It blooms best in full sun exposure
  • It produces red-orange, brown/bronze, and golden-yellow blooms in mid and late summer and early 
  • The flowers attract birds, bees, and butterflies 

3. Common Sunflower 

Top 10 types of sunflowers
Sunflowers growing in a farmer’s field

The common sunflower is a tall, fast-growing annual native to America, and it has upright, sturdy stalks, hairy, oval or heart-shaped leaves, and large flowers. The bloom combines bright yellow petals that surround a brown chocolate disc. While the flower petals attract pollinators, they grow into seeds that become attractive food for the birds.

  • It loves averagely fertile alkaline or neutral soil rich in humus and uniform moisture. It can withstand poor soil 
  • It grows 3 to 10 feet tall and sometimes 1 to 3 feet wide. Tall plants might require support 
  • It blooms best in full sun 
  • It flaunts its flower in mid and late summer

4. Helianthus giganteus 

Types of sunflowers

It is commonly known as the giant sunflower. It can attain about 2.5 to 3 meters in height in optimal conditions. It has red/purple with white hair, which develops branches almost at the top. It has alternating, narrow, lance-like leaves about 4 to 7 inches long and 1 inch wide. It produces several daisy-like flowers 3 inches in diameter. 

  • It prefers moist, well-drained soil 
  • It requires full sun exposure to bloom.

Please note that the success of giant sunflower solely depends on soil moisture and sun combination. 

  • It is easy to maintain. Exposing the plant to winds strengthens the stalk, so the flowers do not droop. Another option is staking
  • It produces multiple yellow blooms from late summer to early fall
  • Its native USDA zone range is 3 to 9

5. Italian White Sunflower 

Top 10 types of sunflowers

It is an annual evergreen with tall green stems, enormous creamy yellow blooms, and a black central disc. Before frost ends, you can start the seeds and transfer them to the garden in spring or sow them directly in the field. For indoors, use a loose potting mix like peat and plant 3 to 4 weeks to the end of frost. For outdoor plants, sow seeds in the soil in spring when the weather warms up. 

  • It appreciates loose, well-drained soil and full sun
  • It grows 60 inches tall and 36 to 48 inches wide
  • It takes 60 to 75 days to mature

6. Jerusalem Artichoke 

Types of Artichoke - Jerusalem Artichokes

 Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberous) is a perennial tuber with a close relation to sunflowers. While sunflower seeds are edible, Jerusalem artichoke tubers are edible. It is easy to maintain after establishment since it does not require any weeding. 

  • They produce better yields in loose, well-drained soil with excellent aeration and slightly alkaline or neutral pH
  • You can boost the soil by adding fertilizer 
  • It blooms best in full sun

7. Maximilian Sunflower 

best sunflower varieties

It is a tall, leafy sunflower whose straight stem has no branches and can grow about 3 to 10 feet tall. The lower side has long, narrow leaves of almost 10 inches while shorter at 2 inches near the top. The leaves are slightly wavy, rough, and hairy. The plant has stalks that bear numerous yellow blooms.

  • It produces brown or yellow blooms 3 inches long from August to November
  • It tolerates a wide range of soils but thrives the best in moist, clay soil, or limestone 
  • It requires full sun to bloom
  • It is a low-maintenance plant with a low water requirement

8. Skyscraper Sunflower 

How to care for Skyscraper sunflowers

It is the tallest sunflower with a height of 12-20 feet that gets its name ‘skyscraper’ from the habit of following the sun across the horizon. It bears a large bloom, almost 14 inches across. Except for the plant’s accommodation, skyscraper grows under similar conditions to other varieties. 

  • It appreciates well-drained soil with 6.0 to 6.8 pH. Test and improve the soil with phosphorous-rich fertilizer
  • They do best in full sun, at least six hours per day 
  • Water the seeds for about 7 to 10 days, the average germination 

You can learn more about this variety in our Skyscraper Sunflower care article.

9. Sunforest Mix Sunflowers 

It is an annual sunflower with a long stalk and creamy yellow flowers with a black central disc. A mixture of shorter varieties with tall ones creates an enchanting natural view such that kids can play on the ground. The plants can grow about 10 to 15 feet tall and bear blooms 1 foot across. To create this, plant sunflowers and leave about 3 to 4 feet that serve as a passage to the open field. 

  • They require moist, well-drained soil 
  • It is most suitable in zones 3 to 9
  • The flowers need to grow 3 feet apart 

The Sunforest sunflower leaves a lovely impression with its size and beauty.

10. Teddy Bear Sunflower 

most popular sunflower varieties

It is an annual sunflower famous for its garden performance and reliability. It is a fast-grower with oval leaves and complete double-blooms 5 inches across. It tolerates deer and attracts birds, butterflies, and bees.

  • It thrives in moist, well-drained neutral or alkaline soil
  • It appreciates full sun exposure
  • It requires low maintenance and moderate watering 
  • It grows 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide
  • It is ideal for perennial borders, cottage gardens, and cutting gardens.

Other resources related to types of Sunflowers:

15 Most Beautiful Types of Sunflowers – FTD.com

35+ Different Types of Sunflowers (Sunflower Names, Species …

15 Different Types of Sunflowers To Plant In Your Garden

25 Best Types of Sunflowers – The Pioneer Woman

Clarisse Walters
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