Beach Sunflower, How to Sow, Grow, Care For, with Images and Guide

Sunflower Varieties /

There are over 70 varieties of sunflowers, and the beach sunflower is a bit of an anomaly to avid sunflower growers, but nonetheless, it has its place amongst the biggest, brightest and most colorful sunflowers that are already known and loved. 

So, what is the beach sunflower? The beach sunflower or cucumberleaf sunflower is a member of the Asteraceae family. Scientifically named Helianthus debilis. This evergreen plant grows up to 2 feet tall, has dark green, heart shaped leaves and 2 inch blooms with bright yellow petals and golden center. Native to Florida’s beaches  

This gorgeous little blooming sunflower doesn’t get much of a look-in when it comes to planning a flower bed. Maybe because gardeners feel its a wild coastal sunflower. but you don’t need to live by the dunes to grow this lovely sunflower.

The beach sunflowers attract bees, butterflies, birds, and bugs. The seeds are full of nutrients that are used in health and beauty products.

It also plays a big part in the environment. So let’s delve a little deeper into this extraordinary sunflower.   

Scientific Classification of the Beach Sunflower

Kingdom: Plantae > Clade: Angiosperms > Clade: Eudicots > Clade: Astredids > Order: Asterales > Family: Asteraceae > Genus: Helianthus > Species: H. debilis.

Botanical Name

Helianthus debilis

Common Name

Beach Sunflower or Cucumberleaf Sunflower

What the Beach Sunflower Looks Like

The beach sunflower is an evergreen plant that can grow up to 2 feet (60cm) in height and can spread quickly over 6 square feet. It has dark green, heart shaped leaves. These leaves alternate out of long thin stalks. 

The bloom has a dark central disc surrounded by bright yellow petals and measures 2 inches (5cms) in diameter. it is delicate and likened to a daisy.

Beach Sunflower in full bloom
a beach sunflower in full bloom

Where the Beach Sunflower Grows in the Wild

The beach sunflower is a tough plant that can thrive in harsh conditions such as drought, high temperatures, and excess salt. This is why it’s commonly found in places such as coastal zones, beaches, sand dunes, abandoned areas, and open grasslands. 

Beach Sunflower Uses

The Beach Sunflower has many uses other than being planted for beautifying coastal areas, preventing soil erosion, or ground cover. 

They’re also used to create vibrant natural dyes, and the stalks are burnt to make potash fertilizer.

Beautiful Beach sunflowers in a vase

You can cut Beach Sunflower blooms, just as they’re opening, to display in vases. This will encourage the plant to produce more buds and blooms to enjoy.

Beach Sunflower Uses in Health and Beauty

The Beach Sunflower ranks high in terms of health, beauty, and food manufacturing too. 

The plants’ oils are extracted and used as a natural expectorant or as a diuretic. An expectorant is a cough syrup, which helps remove the excess phlegm. Diuretics help eliminate salts and water from the body helping with high blood pressure and other diseases. 

Beach sunflower seeds are rich in

  • Protein
  • Essential fatty acids

These are essential for maintaining the overall good health of the nerves and brain 

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage caused by free oxygen radicals and helps in preventing cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and degenerative eye diseases such as cataracts.

  • Selenium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Iron

These nutrients help strengthen our  bodies immune system

  • Lignan
  • Phenolic acid
  • Tryptophan

These compounds could help sufferers of insomnia and weight issues. The seeds can help relieve photosensitivity and farsightedness. They are also very beneficial for strengthening hair, nails, and rejuvenating the skin. 

Sunflower oils and extracts are used in many beauty and health products, such as shampoos, conditioners, creams and essential oils for skin conditions.

Sunflowers seeds have been a crop for thousands of years, and are a household staple in many homes. their oils are used in cooking. The seeds are used whole or ground for bread making and cakes, and as sweet and savory flavored snacks or spreads and dips.

Where to Place Beach Sunflower

Despite the name, you don’t need a beach to grow the Beach Sunflower – but it helps!

But seriously, because the beach sunflower grows so wide, I’d suggest using it as a ground cover or for mass planting.

This plant is particularly useful on banks and beach slopes for conservation and the prevention of soil erosion. 

Beach Sunflower
Beach sunflowers look lovey as ground cover

If you have a wide open space, or grounds that need brightening up then the beach sunflower will give lots of coverage and blooms throughout the year, with little care and attention. 

Pick Your Beach Sunflower Seeds

If I’ve enticed you into liking the idea of growing Beach sunflowers, and you can’t find the seeds locally, I’ve found them on Amazon for you.

Beach Sunflower Seeds

Knowing we can get the seeds for Sowing, let’s get growing

How to Grow Seeds and Propagate Beach Sunflowers

Despite its name, you don’t need to have a beach in order to grow Beach Sunflowers. All you need is a piece of land with plenty of sunlight. 

Due to the low maintenance and nutritional requirements of this plant, you will find that you can successfully plant these in places where nothing else seems to grow. You can use three methods

How and When to Grow Beach Sunflower Seeds 

Like most sunflower seeds, the beach sunflower is very easy to grow from seeds. you can start them off in pots, on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse in the middle of spring.

Sowing Beach Sunflower Seeds Inside in Pots.

  • Plant 1 or 2 seeds about 1 inch (2.5cms) deep in each pot of clean compost. when the seedlings get their second true leaves to divide them and put them into separate pots. This allows them to grow bigger.
  • Two weeks before the danger of frost has gone, gradually accustom seedlings that have been grown indoors to the outside world. Do this by placing them out each day for several hours, then bring them in at night. For the second week increase the hours out, until they are out all night and ready to be planted out.
  • When planting Beach sunflower seedlings in their growing sites. place them about 35 to 45 inches apart (85 to 115cms). This will give the plant and roots lots of space to grow.
  • Water well and watch them grow. 

Sowing Beach Sunflower Seeds Outside

You can sow beach sunflower seeds straight into their growing site. The area you’ve given to them doesn’t need to be pristine.

Just remember any seeds, or placed in the ground are tasty snacks for local wildlife to dig up and feast on, so protect them.

  • The ideal time to plant the Beach Sunflower seeds outside is during the middle of spring or summer
  • Plant 1 or 2 seeds about 2 inches (2.5cms) deep in the ground and 35 to 45 inches (85 to 115cms) apart. Water well and protect the seeds from critters by placing netting or wire mesh over them.
  • Placing the seedlings 35 to 45 inches apart (85 to 115cms). This will give the roots and plant plenty of space to grow. 
  • When the seedlings get their second true leaves, take away the weaker seedling. place it elsewhere in your growing site or pot it up and gift it on to family friends or neighbors.

How to Grow Beach Sunflowers from Softwood Cuttings

  • Pick about 4 inches of a healthy, young plant’s stalk. Make sure it is not discolored, diseased or has any damage to it or the leaves.
  • Remove all the lower leaves to expose the growing nodes. The two top leaves must remain. Pinch away any buds or blooms. 
  • Place this cutting in a soil mix, no hormone powder or special treatment is needed. Push the lower part of the stalk so the nodes are covered by the soil. firm and press the soil around the stalk.
  • Keep the cutting in a bright, dappled sheltered place. Keep the soil moist for several weeks before exposing the plant to direct sunlight, and outdoors.
  • Spray the leaves daily, with a mister, to stop the leaves from drying out.
  • After a few weeks, Check for root growth by gently pulling at the base of the cutting. Once the cutting has grown roots, harden it off. When all fear of frost has gone, place in its growing site.
  • Place the newly rooted cuttings 35 to 45 inches apart (85 to 115cms). This will give the roots and plant plenty of space to grow.

Sit back and enjoy your Beach sunflower growing and blooming all summer long.

beach sunflowers in the wild
beach sunflowers growing wild

Beach Sunflower Care

You can use fertilizer on Beach sunflowers moderately, but it is not necessary. In fact, it’s better to avoid it may cause wilting.

Maybe Use a diluted fertilizer once or twice a month, during its first months, which can help its growth.

Beach sunflowers need little care, especially if you’ve decided to grow them as a ground cover, or a wildflower in an open space. Remove any dead or dying blooms to encourage new growth and flowers.

The expectant life of a beach sunflower is roughly 2 years. After which their stalks become woody and exhausted. When this happens, uproot the plant to sow seeds or place seedlings to grow in its place. 

Harvesting Beach Sunflower Seeds

If you are leaving the seeds that your Beach sunflower produces to the local wildlife, they will be very thankful to you.

But if your intentions are to save some for the following year, take note of when the critters are munching on them and grab some for yourself. And this is how.   

Because the Beach sunflower produces a multitude of blooms and attracts an abundance of pollinators, they also create a whole lot of seeds. These seeds come after the flower has died back.

How to Harvest Beach Sunflower Seeds

  • Carefully cut the dried and dying flower heads from the plant.
  • Hold the seed head over a tray, or container to catch the falling seeds.
  • Gently brush and pull your fingers over the seeds. 
  • Pluck and wiggle any stubborn seeds out.

Collect the amount you need to plant the following year. You can collect enough to gift for family and friends too. The rest can be left for the birds and wildlife to happily munch on at their leisure.

How to Store Beach Sunflower Seeds

  • Remove any debris from the seeds such as plant matter, dried leaves, and stalk. 
  • Clean the seeds from any pollutants and small beasties
  • Air dry thoroughly. 
  • Store the seeds in sealed paper bags, sealed plastic bags or containers, or in a sealed tin.
  • Remember to write the name and date of your seeds on what you’re storing them in. 
  • Store them in a dry place, away from the clutches of wildlife. 

Enjoy the fruits of your labor when you plant and grow them next year.   

Take Away Beach Sunflower Planting Guide and Chart

beach sunflower copyright version - (Featured)

Beach Sunflower take away planting guide and chart

This is a summarized chart of how to sow, grow, and care for Beach sunflowers. Please note, this watermarked version is free to download. it is for your own personal use to print, pin or post. it is not for ….commercial gain or usage.

Pick Your Beach Sunflower Seeds

Beach sunflowers attract bees, butterflies, birds and a multitude of other wildlife. they are beautiful cut and displayed in vases too. And help the environment too.

If you can’t find the Beach sunflower seeds locally, I’ve found them for you on Amazon below, as well as a link to my unwatermarked planting guide as a gift for yourself – or another sunflower lover!

Beach Sunflower Seeds

Why Not Add My Beach Sunflower Guide
Without The Watermark

My Other Helpful Sunflower Guides and Articles

I’ve written many articles that will help you choose, sow and grow the most gorgeous sunflowers.

Most have quick and easy to use take away diagrams, guides, and charts for you to download, pin, post or print out. Here are the articles, I hope you find them helpful. 

31 Most Wonderful Sunflowers. With Height Guide. Tried and Tested

How to Grow Amazing Sunflowers

Do Sunflowers Need a Lot of Water

Why are Sunflowers Drooping, Falling Over or Wilting

Best Sunflower Companion Plants, Vegetables and Flowers

My Conclusion

The Beach sunflower may cover the ground and take up more space than a single stemmed, single-headed iconic sunflower, but, they are wild and magnificent all at the same time.

They’re ideal for wide open spaces and beautifying large areas. They need little maintenance and give a glorious show.

Beach sunflowers attract butterflies and bees and look stunning as cut flowers arranged in vases.

With its weaving nature, they help conserve eroding soil and banks. Grow them for wildlife or over a large area that you want to look happy and cheerful.

The uses for sunflower seeds and plants in health and beauty is abundant. and the foods created from them are full of nutrition and very tasty. They are an all round versatile plant  

The Beach Sunflower brings blooming joy throughout the summer. And if I’ve given you good reason to grow some, I’m sure they’ll fill your summer with sunny brightness.

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