When we think about sunflowers, our minds instantly wander to those towering mega flowers that Bill and Ben loved so much. But would you be surprised if we told you that there are, in fact, dwarf sunflowers that might be considered the smallest sunflower in the world?
Growing a tiny sunflower is entirely possible, but you must make sure to give the plant plenty of what it needs to thrive. This includes planting in late spring and giving them lots of sunlight.
In this short guide, we will be talking you through everything you will need to successfully grow the smallest sunflower in the world; the dwarf sunflower.
What’s The Deal With Tiny Sunflowers?
There is something of an obsession with tiny things that are supposed to be large. Just take a look at some of the things that come out of Japan, a place where smaller is better. It isn’t surprising on an island nation that is roughly the size of the state of California but with a population of almost 130 million people; that’s the sixth largest on the planet!
But while the Japanese tend to favor small toys and trinkets, the smallest sunflower in the world was planted and grown in the USA. According to Guinness World Records, the teeny flower was cultivated by a guy named Michael Lenke in Oregon in 1985 and as things stand, his prized tiny flower is yet to be beaten.
With a size of two and a half inches, Lenke managed to keep the sunflower so small by using a Bonsai technique, which not surprisingly, comes from Japan; we told you they liked things small. The most exciting thing about this whole tiny sunflower business is that it is entirely possible to Bonsai a sunflower, despite the practice being much more common on trees. But we will look at that in a little more detail later on.
How To Grow A Small Sunflower
We understand that there is a variety of dwarf sunflower that typically grows a lot shorter than its common counterparts. While you could be forgiven for thinking that the dwarf sunflower was a plant in its own right, these are, in fact, a hybrid breed that was created using selective breeding. As a result, the dwarf doesn’t reach anywhere near the dizzying heights that regular sunflowers can; about 2.2 meters!
The most common dwarf sunflower varieties are:
- The Sundance Kid which can grow anywhere up to two feet.
- The Little Becka which has beautiful orange/red petals and grows between one and two feet.
- The Pacino sunflower has a beautiful yellow hue and can grow, on average, to around 16 inches.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at our top tips for growing the smallest sunflower in the world.
Where to Grow Sunflowers
Dwarf sunflowers are relatively hardy plants that will take well to various environments. For this reason, gardeners are reasonably free to choose whether to plant indoors or outdoors. However, you should keep in mind that they require a decent amount of natural light so if you are going to grow them indoors, you will need to make sure that they are placed next to a window.
Furthermore, you must consider that, unlike traditional sunflowers, the dwarf varieties tend to be much bushier. For this reason, it is important that you provide them with enough room to flourish, whether that be in a pot or a sizable flower bed.
In terms of height, the dwarf sunflower will typically reach no more than four feet, but that is at a maximum. Usually, you can expect them to grow between two and three feet in height. Again, it is important to ensure that you have the relevant space for them to thrive.
Best Soil for Sunflowers
Choosing the right soil for your sunflowers is another important factor in ensuring that they grow healthy and happy. If you are planting in a pot, you must make sure that there are sufficient drainage holes since dwarf sunflowers like well-draining soil. Furthermore, they are happiest in soil that is very nutrient rich and that is light.
Best Conditions for Sunflowers
Your dwarf sunflowers will do well when kept out of the wind. But they do like a good amount of natural light and require at least 6, if not 8, hours of sun each day. It can be useful to provide your sunflowers with regular fertilizers that are well-balanced and rich in nutrients. What’s more, you should always be sure to check the leaves and remove any that have browned as this will keep the plant in the best condition.
Dwarf sunflowers will do best when they are planted in the late spring as this removes any chance of frost. You can plant them directly into the ground or in a pot and the seed will only need to be placed around half an inch into the soil.
Can I Bonsai A Sunflower?
If you want to challenge the current world record for the smallest sunflower, then using a Bonsai technique will probably give you the best chance. But there is a knack to this!
Bonsai involves pruning the roots of the plant and if you want to achieve a tiny sunflower then this will need to be done at least one a week. You should turn the plant out and carefully tease the roots, removing any that are touching the outside of the pot. It is also important not to overwater the sunflower. Using this technique will likely stunt the growth of the plant but it is vital that you do not interfere with the central root ball as this could simply kill the flower.
The smallest sunflowers in the world are dwarf varieties that grow just a couple of feet at maximum. While there are varieties that can grow up to 16 feet, we don’t all have gardens big enough to accommodate these. Growing a small sunflower can be done in a pot and these little plants can also be turned into a Bonsai, for a truly tiny flower.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Ensure that you plant your wallflowers in a nice and sunny spot!”
“Ensure that you keep your wallflowers well watered in the summer, they are big drinkers!”
“Sow your wallflowers in pots indoors and transplant them out in May!”
“Wallflowers will grow quite a bit of foliage so plant them at least 30cm from each other!”
Frequently Asked Questions
What are small sunflowers called?
Small sunflowers are known as Dwarf sunflowers. Dwarf sunflowers are just much smaller versions of their larger cousins and they require very little maintenance as long as they are grown in full sun.
Are dwarf sunflowers annuals or perennials?
Dwarf sunflowers are annuals. They will grow for one season and then you will need to harvest the seeds in order to plant the following year.
Are there miniature sunflowers?
Yes, you can get miniature sunflowers known as dwarf sunflowers. Few people know that sunflowers can also be bonsai’d making them even smaller.