Sunflowers make you think of a cheerful yellow sun, right? The classic flower of summer is bright, golden, and sunny. Are there other colors as well? Are there white sunflowers? The answer may surprise you and inspire you to try new varieties of this summer stunner in your flower garden.
White Sunflower Varieties
If you haven’t spent much time exploring the different varieties of sunflower available on the market, you may not realize how much variety there actually is. Not all sunflowers are the typical tall stalks with giant yellow heads. There are shorter plants, flowers that are only a few inches (8 cm.) across, and even those striped with yellow, brown, and burgundy.
You’ll also find a few whitish varieties that have been around for a while. ‘Moonshadow’ is creamy white with 4 inch (10 cm.) blooms on shorter stalks. ‘Italian White’ grows blooms of a similar size and look a little bit like daisies but with smaller centers.
What has been elusive for many years are the truly large sunflower varieties with pure white petals and big, seed producing centers. Now, however, after years of development, there are two varieties created by Tom Heaton in Woodland, California:
- ‘ProCut White Nite’ grows up to 6 feet (2 m.) tall and produces pure white petals with large, dark centers.
- ‘ProCut White Lite’ is very similar and the same size as White Nite but produces pretty white petals around a yellow green center.
Unlike the other white sunflowers, these new cultivars look like a typical large sunflower, just with white petals. Developing them took decades and Heaton faced challenges such as petal quality, attracting bees, and seed production.
How to Grow White Sunflowers
Growing white sunflowers is no different from growing standard varieties. They require full sun, fertile soil that drains well, adequate space between plants, and regular watering.
Start the seeds outdoors in spring, after the last hard frost. The new white varieties can be grown just to enjoy as they are, for the seeds and for cut flowers.
Pure white sunflowers are truly stunning. The creators see them being used in wedding and spring bouquets. Where sunflowers traditionally have been used for late summer and fall displays, these white varieties give them more versatility. Additionally, the white petals will take to dying, opening up a whole new world of possible colors.