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?
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!