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Helianthus / sunflower

Genus: Helianthus

Common Name: Sunflower


Both annual and perennial sunflowers offer a significant source of pollen and nectar, thereby attracting a huge diversity of native bee species, as well as butterflies, wasps, flies and pollen-eating beetles. Many native bee species are specialists of sunflowers, including members of the genera Svastra, Diadasia, Melissodes, Eucera and Andrena. Sunflowers are thus an important addition to a late summer/early fall garden, as long as care is taken to select varieties that are not ornamental or 'pollen-less'.


Native Regions

North America



Many species, both annual and perennial, are routinely available and can be grown in most parts of the U.S. and Canada.



Annual and perennial, depending upon species


Bloom Time

Late summer to fall


Average Height

Ranges from 1 to 10 feet, depending on species


Flower Color




Full sun


Water Requirements



Recommended Species

Perennial species which are widely available include:


Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower) which will grow in dry sunny conditions in most parts of North America.

Helianthus divaricatus (woodland sunflower), best suited to shady or woodland locations in the eastern United States.

Helianthus nuttalli, a very tall species native to the western United States and most of Canada, except the extreme northern provinces.

Annual species which are widely available include:


Helianthus petiolaris (prairie sunflower), which is a lower-growing, showy sunflower, native to most parts of North America.

Helianthus annuus (common sunflower) is the most common, routinely available, annual species, which can be grown throughout North America.

However, caution should be exercised in selecting these varieties, as many pollen-less hybrids exist. Therefore, be sure to select only those Helianthus annuus plants or seeds that do not stipulate “pollen-less” or ornamental, as these will not provide the necessary nutrients for native bees.

bee Visitors

Andrena / Mining Bee

Anthophora / Digger Bee

Augochlora / Sweat Bee

Augochlorella / Sweat Bee

Bombus / Bumble Bee

Centris / Digger Bee

Coelioxys / Cuckoo Bee

Diadasia / Sunflower Bee

Eucera / Long-horned Bee

Halictus / Sweat Bee

Lasioglossum / Sweat Bee

Megachile / Leafcutter Bee

Melissodes / Long-horned Bee

Nomada / Cuckoo Bee

Svastra / Sunflower Bee

Trachusa / Trachusa

Triepeolus / Cuckoo Bee

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