Yellow Flowers

15 Reasons to Love Growing Giant Sunflowers

Giant sunflowers also known as Mammoth Sunflowers are an heirloom variety that can grow up to 12 feet high! They grow to maturity in 75-90 days. These sunflowers can feed people, livestock, pets and wildlife. Most of the plant itself has all types of uses.

If you have the room and haven’t grown them before, let’s talk about 9 great reasons for growing giant sunflowers in your garden this year.

I love the asymmetrical shot shows the texture of the head of this Mammoth Sunflower.

Table of Contents

1. The Mammoth Sunflower produces hundreds of seeds

The flower head is large enough to give the room needed to produce such a large number of seeds. They are also large size seeds. Each seed has white and grey stripes. Sunflowers are one of the easiest plants to start from seed which is why teachers use them in their classrooms.

2. Low cost food source for feeding song birds

If you don’t like the mess of a bird feeder or the responsibility of filling it, growing giant sunflowers is an easy way to attract song birds to your backyard. Click here to read about other plants you can grow to naturally feed wild birds.

Birds will eat the seeds right off the sunflower. If they don’t, then cut off the head of the sunflower and let it dry. You can rub your thumb across and easily loosen the seeds from the flower head. Or just lay the dried sunflower head on a flat surface where birds can easily access it and let them do the work.

3. Supplement your own low sodium diet

If you love sunflowers but are frustrated at the high amount of sodium in ones sold in grocery stores, you can grow Mammoth Sunflowers to get the nutrition without the salt. Click here for a roasted sunflower recipe you can easily make yourself. Sunflower seeds have vitamins and phytonutrients. For more information on sunflower nutrition, click here.

Consuming too many sunflower seeds can increase your phosphorus and selenium which can lead to health problems.

4. Healthy supplement to your livestock feed

It’s a healthy food source you can give to your chickens and cattle. It contained fiber, fatty acids and protein. I now grow Mammoth Sunflowers to give the giant sunflower seeds to my chickens. After I dry the entire flower head, I store it in my shed where it’s dry to avoid any mold. Then when the colder weather sets in, I give them the entire flower head to peck away. It also helps with their boredom.

I don’t have cattle so I can’t personally give a lot of detail about feeding sunflower seeds to them but I found a good resource if you are interested. Click here for more detail about feeding sunflower seeds to beef cattle.

5. Get crafty with sunflower petals

The petals of these flowers are really large and can be used to make all types of homemade soap and beauty products. You can dry them to make soap, lip balm, hair rinse and infuse it with olive oil. Dry petals on a baking sheet or a dehydrator if you have one. Click here for some recipes to try.

Close up photo of a Mammoth Sunflower
Sunflowers are more than just a pretty face.
They protect bees from harmful pathogens.

6. Pollinators can’t miss the giant sunflowers

Honeybees and wild bees love sunflowers. Your local bee keeper would appreciate you growing Mammoth Sunflowers in your garden. There was an experiment done where two different types of bees were fed sunflower pollen had lower rates of specific pathogens that affected bees. You can read more about this study by clicking here. Sunflower pollen lacks some amino acids but as a supplement to a bee’s diet, it gives them the added benefit of immunity.

The broad sunflower leaves help feed the plant through photosynthesis.

7. They can be used as kindling

Not only do the sunflower head dry out very well…so does the whole plant. If you have a fire pit or have a yearly bonfire to spread ash in your garden, Mammoth Sunflowers can be dry enough to be used as kindling to get a fire started. This includes the stalks and leaves. Cut down the stalks in smaller pieces to fit your needs.Use

It should go without saying that you need to follow your township’s rules about fires and this isn’t a good idea for places like Southern California where fires can easily get out of control.

8. Gorgeous backdrop for photos

Sometimes, we have a local farmer that will grow a field of mammoth sunflowers and hundreds of people will flock to that area to take photos of their families. You may not want sunflower fans to invade your garden but having them in your garden presents fun photo ops.

You can get so creative and save money for your next holiday card photos of your family. You can get gorgeous shots for your garden journal or for social media. Sunflowers are the most popular cut flower that people buy from stores so photos of large sunflowers are sure to get attention.

It takes about 80 days for the mammoth sunflowers to reach about 12 feet high. These sunflowers are providing some much needed shade for my chickens.

9. Giant sunflowers give the right kind of shade

My love for Mammoth Sunflowers started the year that I was gifted 10 seedling from a coworker who didn’t have the room on her property but she was teaching her granddaughters to grow plants from seed. They planted a few but she gave me the rest.

I decided to use their size to provide some much needed shade for my chicken pen. The chickens loved it for the shade and they felt less exposed to predators.

In mature Mammoth Sunflowers, the weight of the seeds can make the sunflower heads droop.

10. The stalks can save you money on gardening supplies

If you’ve ever grown one of these sunflowers, you’ll know that you can’t just trim the stalks with garden clippers. You have to use a saw to cut them into pieces. As much of a pain this is, the stalk’s strength is an advantage.

You can saw them into pieces to be used as a support for next year’s tender seedlings. You can also use them as a filler for your flower pots. I mix them with wood so I don’t have to pay so much for soil. Some of my planters are really large. I do empty them every year and replace the filler.

11. Mature giant sunflowers are deer resistant

Young tender plants are at risk to be a snack for white tailed deer but when they mature…deer usually leave them alone. Some people struggle with finding plants and flowers that deer won’t destroy so a giant sunflower might be a choice. I’ve also heard many people tell me that after their dog died and they didn’t get another one, their garden was overrun by deer for the first time.

12. Easy to grow and low maintenance

If you’ve never grown seeds before and want to feel successful, start with sunflowers. The seedlings of a Mammoth Sunflower appear really fast so it’s a great choice for teachers because the kids can see it grow quickly and you can easily start them indoors. Once established in the garden, you don’t have to fuss over them. They can survive due to their deep roots and can even tolerate poor soil but not if it doesn’t drain well.

13. They clean up radioactivity

Wait…what? I was shocked when I learned that sunflowers were planted at radioactive sights including after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Specifically, sunflowers removed cesium and strontium from surrounding soil and water sources. After that success, they were planted when there was a nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan. Here’s a great example of how we can leverage nature to improve the environment. Click here if you want to read this in more detail.

A closeup of a Mammoth Sunflower to show the formation of the seeds.

14. It’s a great companion plant to your existing garden

Sunflowers grow well with tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, lettuce and peas just to name a few. The thick stalk of Mammoth Sunflowers could accommodate peas wrapping themselves around the base. For a longer list of companion plants for sunflowers, click here.

The only thing you shouldn’t plant around sunflowers is potatoes due to a chemical that hinders a potato plant’s growth.

15. Sunflower leaves can be a trap crop

I mentioned that deer like to snack on tender leaves but they aren’t the only animal that goes after sunflower leaves. Aphids, Japanese Beetles, moth larvae, slugs, snails and even caterpillars will make those mysterious holes in the flower. We love to preserve the beauty of our sunflowers but it can be a functional plant in your garden luring destructive insects from your vegetable garden. Trap crops are used as a tool in organic gardening.

Summary

Mammoth Sunflowers can be a good food supplement for people, livestock and wild animals. The whole plant can be used for different things other than food. It can be a companion plant and trap crop to your existing vegetable garden. Sunflowers have historically helped clean the environment. If you have the space to accommodate these giant sunflowers, they are easy to start and save the seeds for years of enjoyment.

Happy planting!