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Ornamental Sunflower Varieties Tested in 2001

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Jeanine Davis, NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University. This study was conducted in 2001. New sunflower varieties are now available. The article remains for reference. (5/25/2022)

Growers indicated that they would like to use ornamental sunflowers outside their mazes, by their road signs, and to decorate their cornfield mazes. We put in a trial of 22 varieties of ornamental sunflowers. All seeds were obtained from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Below are pictures and comments on these varieties. Late planting (mid-June) probably reduced plant height and flower numbers on some varieties.


Autumn Beauty

Branching with multiple flowers in autumn colors of oranges and reds. Flowers were 4-6 inches across. Plants were not even in height and ranged from 4-6 feet tall.


Big Smile

An extra early dwarf variety. Very large flowers with large centers. Many plants had multiple blooms. Bright gold-yellow color. Plants were less than 2 feet tall.



A very attractive flower in traditional sunflower yellow. Many multiple blooms, about 4 inches across. Very uneven plant height, ranged from 2-6 feet tall.



Very attractive flowers, 4-6 inches across with dark centers and long petals. Plants were about 3 feet tall.


Lyng’s California Greystripe

Bright yellow flowers about 10 inches across. Long feathery petals with brown center. Plants were fairly uniform in height, color and size, about 7 feet tall.



Lemon yellow flowers with wide petals and dark centers. Big, attractive leaves. Plants were uniform at 4-5 feet tall. Flowers 4-6 inches across.


Moulin Rouge

Beautiful dark red flowers with black centers. Very eye-catching. Branching with 4 inch blooms. Plants varied in height from 4 to 7 feet.



Dwarf plants under 3 feet tall with dark foliage. Very uniform, branching with lots of blooms. Medium yellow flowers with dark yellow centers, 4/5 inches across.

Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire

Dwarf plants under 3 feet tall with dark foliage. Very uniform, branching with lots of blooms. Medium yellow flowers with dark yellow centers, 4/5 inches across.



This variety did not perform well in this trial. Germination was poor and plants were weak, spindly, with scant foliage. Plants were uneven in height, ranging from 2-5 feet tall. The flowers were pretty, with big rounded rich yellow petals and a dark center, about 5 inches across.



This variety has similar flowers to Sonja, with the wide petals, but the plants were much stronger and healthier looking. Great color, multiple blooms, 4-6 inches across, but plant height was not uniform and ranged from 1-4 feet.



Very large yellow-green center surrounded by short, bright yellow petals. Single blooms, 6 inches across, per plant. Plants were about 3 feet tall.



Similar to Sunbeam but with darker centers. Single bloom per plant. Plants were fairly uniform and about 5 feet tall


Sunbright Supreme

Similar to Sunbright but with smaller centers. Single, 6 inch blooms per plant. Plants uniform at about 3 feet tall

Sundance Kid

Sundance Kid

Dwarf sunflower; under 3 feet tall. Unusual bronze to yellow flower with a very uneven brown center. Petals tended to curl, making flowers look wilted.


Sunrich Lemon

4-6 inch, lemon yellow flowers with light green centers. Pretty color. Plants about 4 feet tall.


Sunrich Orange

Golden yellow flowers with an almost orange center. Flowers were about 6 inches across and plants were about 5 feet tall.

Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear

Big, shaggy, “pom-pom” like flowers on little 2 foot tall plants. Multiple blooms. Fun and different.


The Joker

A double, bicolor flower with dark red centers fading out to yellow tipped petals. Big clusters of 4 inch blooms on top of 6 foot tall plants. Very attractive.



Big double flowers, about 7 inches across, in bright yellow. These are shaggy in the middle with a single band of flat petals around the outside. Multiple blooms. Plants varied in height from 3-6 feet.



Beautiful pale-lemon yellow flowers with very dark centers. This variety drew a lot of attention. Lots and lots of flowers about 6 inches across. Plants were about 4 feet tall.

Velvet Queen

Velvet Queen

Dark velvety red flowers with brown centers. Flowers were about 5 inches across on plants 5-6 feet tall.