There are 14 different varieties of sunflowers native to Florida. Several imported varieties also grow well in the Florida region. Most varieties of sunflowers found in Florida have a soft fragrance and are easy to root. A member of the daisy family, these flowers like to grow in the full sun and can withstand hot and dry weather conditions.
Beach Sunflower/Dune Sunflower
The Flora Sun beach sunflower, is a hardy perennial that can withstand the salty sea spray. This variety of the plant has small flowers and grows to about 3 feet high. Native to coastal dunes, the flowers are bright yellow and look like daisies. The plant makes decorative ground cover and requires little care. These flowers, which grow best from cuttings, bloom year-round in Southern Florida.
Native to Florida, the Rayless sunflower is different from the other 20 varieties of sunflowers that grow in the state in that it doesn’t have any flower petals. This species of sunflower grows throughout the state in wet flatwoods where it towers above the native grasses. The plant grows to be about 3 feet tall and is distinguished from other sunflowers by a slender stem with what looks like a purplish-brown-colored cone on top. Found growing only in the southeasterly states of the U.S. in open pine forests where the soil is well drained, the Rayless sunflower blooms in the summer.
The Mexican sunflower can grow up to 6 feet tall and gives off the scent of honey. Like other varieties of sunflowers, the plant grows best in well-drained soil. Frost will kill it, but the plant will reseed in the spring. When planting as a garden flower, allow room for the flower to spread out as it grows. In the southern U.S., these plants flower in June, go to seed, and then produce a second generation of flowering plants before October. The flower attracts several different species of butterflies, along with hummingbirds and bees. Flower petals are bright orange or yellow in color. Although the Mexican sunflower is a perennial plant native to Central America, the flower grows easily in sunny, sandy locations like Florida. The plant spreads quickly unless you keep it contained.
Taller than the Mexican sunflower, the Russian Mammoth grows to about 12 feet high with a flower that can get as big as 16 inches in diameter. The plant is an imported variety of sunflower that grows well in the sandy soils of Florida. This species of sunflower is drought-tolerant and grows easily in warm-temperate climates. However, if conditions remain dry for too long or a region has less than average rainfall, the roots need a good soaking with water. Otherwise, the plant requires very little care.