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HELIANTHUS annuus 'Firecracker'

Image of Helianthus annuus 'Firecracker'

Jessie Keith

Family

Asteraceae

Botanical Name

HELIANTHUS annuus 'Firecracker'

Plant Common Name

Annual Sunflower, Firecracker Sunflower

General Description

The big, bold blooms of sunflowers make them one of the most cheerful and fun annuals for the garden. Sun loving and easy to grow, they are native throughout the whole of North America down to Central America. Sunflower ‘Firecracker’ is a semi-dwarf selection. The plants are branched with large, heart-shaped leaves that are rough and slightly hairy. The summer, daisy-like flowers are small and gold-red bicolor with velvety brown centers. Flowers may be forced through out the year in warm, frost-free zones. Firecracker does not produce pollen, so its cutflowers are not messy.

Sunflower leaves are very distinctive. They are large, medium green and heart-shaped with a rough, slightly hairy surface. Flowering typically occurs when temperatures are warm and nights short. Mature plants produce huge daisies that come in an array of sizes and harvest colors. The fresh flowers draw lots of insect pollinators, including bees and butterflies. It is important to allow the mature flowerheads to dry because the seeds within feed wild birds and mammals.

Grow sunflowers in full sun and average soil with good drainage. It is best to directly sow the seeds in the ground in the late spring. Tall plants with few side branches may require staking—sunflowers often fall when subjected to high winds and heavy rain. After flowering and setting seed, these short-lived annuals will die. If you desire continuous summer sunflowers, plant seeds every two weeks in succession from mid-spring to early summer. These outstanding annuals make superb additions to cutting garden or vegetable plots. Children also love them because they are fun to plant and grow. Sunflower heads can also be cut with their seeds intact, dried indoors and brought outside to feed wildlife in winter.

Sunflowers emit a substance from their roots and germinating seeds that inhibits the germination of other seeds around them.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Annual

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Width

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall

  • Native To

    North America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Red, Gold, Bronze, Brown

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Fruit Color

    Chocolate, Ivory, Black

  • Fruit Color Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Feature Plant, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes