Annuals Gardening

The Giant Sunflower That Came Out of Nowhere!

The giant sunflower found in Louise Labrecque’s vegetable garden. Source: Louise Labrecque

Question: A giant sunflower grew in my vegetable garden without my having planted it. It’s gorgeous and looks like a big bouquet of flowers. Is it common to see such a tall sunflower?

Louise Labrecque

Answer: Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) come in a wide range of sizes, from dwarf (less than 1 foot/30 cm) to giant, normally between 9 and 13 feet (2.7 m and 3.5 m) tall. Your plant is therefore a bit taller than normal and certainly very impressive, but far from the tallest sunflower ever grown (the world record height for a sunflower is 30 feet 1 inch [9.17 m]), or almost 3 stories high!

Also, it’s very common for sunflowers to show up all on their own in gardens or fields. Often birds or squirrels carry sunflower seeds a good distance from their source, usually a sunflower field or a bird feeder. For example, I find sunflowers in my container gardens every summer, plus peanut plants, all planted by a busy family of chipmunks.

That said, a self-sown sunflower of this size, with this many flowers, remains extremely very rare. You certainly won the luck of the draw with this one!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

3 comments on “The Giant Sunflower That Came Out of Nowhere!

  1. John Wilson

    This is a beautiful and magnificent specimen. Maybe the Labrecque’s should consider harvesting the seeds from it. I certainly wouldn’t mind buying a few!

  2. From birdseed, maybe? Impressive size.

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the Laidback Gardener blog and receive articles in your inbox every morning!

%d bloggers like this: