Sunflowers are like puppies and kittens – everyone loves them! They are cheery-looking with their bright-yellow petals and faces that always look happy. They also serve some important purposes, not the least of which are their yummy seeds.
Planting sunflowers has both advantages and disadvantages in your home garden, many of which you probably aren’t aware of. If you’re considering planting this amazing flower and you’re not sure of the pros and cons of doing so, below are some things to take into consideration before you go any further.
Pros of Planting Sunflowers
Some of the many advantages of planting sunflowers are discussed below.
1. You’ll Find Advantages to Their Incredible Height
One of the things many people comment when they see fields of sunflowers is the flowers’ massive height. Sunflowers usually grow from 5 to 12 feet, which is very impressive. Not only does the height of the flowers make them extra-beautiful, but they even provide partial shade to anything you may want to plant underneath them.
You can also use a row of sunflowers as a hedge to make the area more attractive, or plant them because you want to hide a compost pile. The flowers are truly versatile.
2. Reduce weeds
Sunflowers contain what the experts call an “allelopathic” chemical, and to put it simply, other plants simply don’t appreciate this chemical. As a result, planting sunflowers can keep down the amount of weeds in your backyard.
The chemicals released by sunflowers can actually inhibit the growth of many plants in the area, which includes weeds. Fewer weeds means both a lot less work on your part and a much more attractive yard.
3. They Attract Pollinators
Sunflowers attract pollinators just like they are attractive to us humans. Their gorgeous, eye-catching outer petals draw the attention of pollinators such as bees, including bumble bees and honeybees.
The sunflowers is full of high-quality nectar which the bees love. Once bees are in the area, they will often pollinate many other plants in addition to the sunflowers. This can increase your yield of strawberries, tomatoes and peppers.
4. They Can Detox the Soil Around Them
Sunflowers can detox the soil over time by gradually breaking down heavy metals in the soil, including arsenic, lead, chromium, zinc, copper, manganese, and cadmium. This allows the healthy minerals found in the soil to remain there and these toxic minerals are slowly broken down.
When the soil is healthier, not only do the sunflowers grow bigger and prettier, but so does everything else around them.
5. They Are Both Gorgeous and Practical
The thing about sunflowers is that they look gorgeous whether they’re in your garden, a pretty vase, or anywhere in your backyard. Not only that, but they offer a healthy, practical snack that everyone loves – sunflower seeds!
Sunflower seeds are loved by birds, other animals, and humans. In fact, some people will grow sunflowers simply for the seeds, but the beauty of the flowers is a great added benefit. You simply can’t ignore these very obvious perks of growing sunflowers.
Cons of Planting Sunflowers
Now for some of the disadvantages of planting sunflowers.
6. Sunflowers Can Sometimes Blow Over
Sunflowers are usually very tall and can have huge, heavy heads and leaves as well. While this trait is one that most people love, it also has a big disadvantage. If you have a strong wind or a major storm in the area, the sunflowers can blow over and the stems can break.
This causes them to die in many cases, and the worst part is that they often take a lot of the nearby plants with them. So, it’s very possible you’ll wake up some day after a bad storm and see numerous dead plants on the ground, including your sunflowers.
7. Sunflowers Can Attract Squirrels and Pests
Just like birds and people, your neighborhood squirrels are attracted to sunflower seeds as well. In fact, squirrels often go from the bird feeder to your sunflowers because they love these seeds so much.
After they do that, there’s a good chance they’ll go after your vegetables next, which isn’t a pleasant thing. Sunflowers can also attract other pests such as rats and mice that can climb and snack on the sunflower seeds.
8. Sunflowers Repress Growth in Other Plants
Sunflowers are allelopathic, which means they emit certain toxins that can actually stop plants close to them from growing. Some of the vegetables that are most likely to suffer if sunflowers are planted too close include potatoes and pole beans.
Plant sunflowers at least 3 feet away from these vegetables and they will grow in harmony. Give them enough room for their roots to spread but not to touch other plants and they can grow alongside each other without influencing each other’s growth.
9. Sunflowers Can Be Difficult to Get Rid of
At the end of the season, sunflowers can be tough to get rid of, unless they’ve already blown over onto the ground. Even after a frost, sunflowers can still remain and can be unwieldy.
Remove sunflowers at the end of the summer season by pulling them out, mulching their stems and put them in your compost pile.
There’s no doubt that sunflowers are some of the prettiest flowers out there, but they can have disadvantages as well as advantages. It’s a good idea to go over all of the pros and cons before you decide whether or not you want sunflowers on your property.
Are sunflowers worth planting in your backyard? Only you can answer that, but now you at least have the information you need to make the right decision.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.