One look at a Buttercream sunflower, and you’ll know how it got its name. Its pale yellow petals immediately call to mind a tub of butter, and their contrast with the dark brown center of the flower offers a dramatic flourish.
Read on to learn more about this simple yet stunning sunflower variety, from how to grow it, to what to look out for in terms of pests and diseases, to using it as a decorative touch in your home or elsewhere.
Characteristics of the Buttercream Sunflower
Buttercream sunflowers are produced on plants that have multiple branches. On average, that means that the plants each will produce somewhere between four and eight sunflowers during a growing season than can extend into the fall.
One note of caution is in order for Buttercream sunflowers. Their stems are thinner than the stems of other sunflower varieties, so if you live in an area that gets high winds, you’ll want to stake or otherwise support your plants.
Growing Your Own Buttercream Sunflowers
As with other sunflowers, Buttercream sunflowers can be planted after the danger of frost has passed. Seeds should be sown into warm soil, at least 50 degrees — you can order a soil thermometer from Amazon — and should be planted a half-inch deep.
You can start these sunflowers indoors, allowing about three weeks prior to the anticipated last frost to get them established enough to transplant.
For both sunflower plants and seeds, the distance between plants will dictate how large the blooms will get. The largest Buttercream sunflowers will grow to about four inches across.
For best results, your Buttercream sunflowers should be planted where they can get six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day.
Caring for Your Buttercream Sunflowers
There is a bit of an art to properly watering sunflowers, including the Buttercream variety. Sunflowers are fast-growing — the Buttercream variety will reach maturity in around 60 days — and will need about two gallons of water each week, and even more in early growth.
Getting adequate water to your sunflowers will pay dividends, such as ensuring that the plants grow strong stems to ensure adequate support for the flowers.
While rainfall can meet at least some of your Buttercream sunflowers’ needs, consistent watering is key. As such, daily watering is best for your sunflowers, at least until they grow a couple of feet high. It’s best to water sunflowers early in the morning before the sun hits them.
Fertilizing Buttercream Sunflowers
Sunflowers, including the elegantly simple Buttercream variety, are regarded to be heavy-feeding vegetation in the home landscape. Technically, they can be grown without fertilization, but adding nutrients to the soil will, unsurprisingly, produce better results.
Generally, you should fertilize your sunflowers with a mix of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, the primary components of commercially available fertilizers, along with a range of micronutrients.
Happily, some natural fertilizers will give your sunflowers what they need to thrive, including compost, manure, and bone meal. Compost is high in nitrogen, while bone meal provides phosphorous, and manure provides both phosphorous and nitrogen.
As appealing as they are to the people who enjoy them, sunflowers also are attractive to their share of pests. For instance, as your plant is growing, before flowers form, you’ll need to watch out for stem weevils and sunflower beetles.
Weevils can continue to be a problem as flowers begin to show on your Buttercream plants, possibly joined by maggots, sunflower midges, and Lygus bugs.
Generally speaking, insecticidal soaps can be an effective tool in countering sunflower pests.
While many people grow sunflowers in an attempt to bring wildlife that snacks on sunflower seeds into their yards, a proliferation of wildlife can detract from the beauty and enjoyment of sunflowers.
To keep wildlife away from your sunflowers, at least for a little while, try placing birdseed and seed corn elsewhere in your yard, away from your sunflowers.
Buttercream sunflowers, like other varieties, are subject to a number of diseases, among the most prevalent of which is rust, a fungal malady marked by reddish-brown pustules on the underside of leaves.
Fortunately, rust can be treated relatively simply, by dissolving 10 aspirin tablets in a gallon of water and spring the solution on your plants.
Another sunflower disease is leaf spot, which manifests initially as dark spots on sunflower leaves. It can be treated with a garlic spray or with a spray of diluted cider vinegar.
You’ll also need to watch for signs of powdery mildew, which makes it appear as if powdered sugar has been blown onto your sunflowers. It can be treated with apple cider vinegar or aspirin spray.
Using Buttercream Sunflowers as Home Decor
The stunning pale yellow of the Buttercream sunflower, contrasted with its dark brown center, makes it a lovely element in bouquets featuring a mix of flowers. You can assemble beautiful bouquets at home featuring this sunflower.
Consider pairing the Buttercream sunflower with daisies, or other flowers from the sunflower family. In terms of other flowers to include, know the sunflower will be the focal point of your arrangement and pair it with smaller flowers like asters or chrysanthemums.
Like many other sunflowers, the Buttercream variety produces no pollen, so it can be used throughout your home, or at any event, without worrying about pollen getting onto furnishings or surfaces.
Where to Buy Buttercream Sunflower Seeds
Buttercream sunflower seeds are available from Amazon, and you can, as always, check with your local garden center or home supply store to see if they carry Buttercream sunflower seeds.
Or, if you have a friend or neighbor who is growing these sunflowers, you might be able to talk them into giving you access to the seeds from the flowers themselves as the growing season comes to an end. Store seeds in an airtight container until planting season.
Wrapping up the Buttercream Sunflower
We hope this post has fully introduced you to the buttercream sunflower and has prompted you to consider growing it on your own, or at least finding ways to use it in your home decor. For more on sunflowers, visit our Sunflower Page!
- About the Author
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As a longtime homeowner, Jim Thompson has tried over the years, with varying degrees of success, to enhance his residential landscapes.
As a reporter and editor for newspapers in rural Georgia, Jim interacted frequently with agricultural experts from the University of Georgia Extension Service, learning about soils and other aspects of growing things for both commercial and residential purposes.
A graduate of the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Jim covered a variety of beats before retiring and embarking on writing for Minneopa Orchards.
Jim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org