Giant sunflowers add dramatic size and color against stone walls, garden sheds, and wooden fences

Giant sunflowers add dramatic size and color against stone walls, garden sheds, and wooden fences


Today, I harvested the largest sunflower in my garden. The 119-inch stem (almost 10 feet) had bent over from the weight of the 15-inch seed head.


The seeds of this annual were already drying and starting to drop from the head. Since I want to harvest and store them, I don’t want to risk new plants emerging from where the seeds have drop onto soil. And I don’t want the squirrels to get the seeds before I’ve saved some.



Giant sunflower head, newly harvested

Giant sunflower head, newly harvested, covered with florets that will dry and fall off or can be brushed off to expose seeds



The sunflower I grew emerged from a single stalk that bore only one head with sunny yellow-petaled face. I planted it from seed I saved last year from the parent. If you want a row of giant plants, you’ll need to space them about 20 inches apart.


Kids love these giants when they are trained to grow in fairy rings, fortlike squares, or as tee-pees. The plants are much appreciated by the honeybees, squirrels, and songbirds. Best of all, the stalks can go into the compost pile when the growing season is over.


Our farmette soil is clay. In the area where I planted these sunflowers,  I amended the soil with chicken manure and peat. The seedd went in about 1 inch deep and five to six inches apart. Last year, we grew the sunflowers in a circle, but this year we have a row at the back of the property in front of a fence.


Once the seeds are planted, a thorough watering will help them germinate within about a week.  Keep them moist until they germinate, then water on a regular basis. I feed them once during the growing cycle with a cup of fish emulsion diluted in a five-gallon bucket of water. Otherwise they aren’t too fussy about soil and can even withstand some drought conditions.


Find heirloom organic seed that is non-GMO at any of the following seed companies:


Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at


Victory Seeds at


High Mowing Organic Seed at


Bountiful Gardens at


All Good Things Organic or AGTO Seeds at









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