The Mammoth sunflower is a brilliant and cheery plant that towers over most other sunflower types. This impressive plant is not only one of the tallest sunflower varieties, but also has a long list of reasons why it makes a great addition to any garden!
Whether you’re looking to plant your own Mammoth sunflower or just have unanswered questions, keep reading for all you need to know about this astonishing plant!
History of the Mammoth Sunflower
The sunflower plant dates back over 4,500 years ago and is native to North America, where the flower was cultivated by early Native Americans for consumption. Spanish explorers brought the sunflower to Europe in the early 1500s, where the plant was initially grown for ornamental purposes.
In the 18th century, Russia increased the demand for sunflower seed oil when the Russian Orthodox Church prohibited the consumption of many foods made with certain oils during Lent. However, sunflower seed oil was still allowed, which created widespread growth of sunflower plants in Russia and Ukraine.
The Mammoth sunflower was developed during this time of growth and therefore is sometimes referred to as the Russian Mammoth.
Characteristics of the Mammoth Sunflower
Each plant produces one stalk that averages between 9 to 12 feet tall. A bright yellow flower head with a dark brown center sits atop the strong stalk and can easily grow up to 12 inches across! Plump white seeds with black and grey stripes are found in the head of the sunflower.
Be wary of the height of your plant – although the stalks are generally sturdy, Mammoth sunflowers that are “too tall” can hold an excess of weight at the head, making these flowers subjected to being toppled over by weight or strong winds!
To prevent your sunflower from keeling over, a tree stake may be used to help support your tall Mammoth sunflower.
To use a stake to support your plant, use twine a few times along the stalk to gently tie your young plant to the stake. Emphasis on “gentle” – twine that is too tight can choke your plant and harm its growth!
Benefits of Growing the Mammoth Sunflower
Mammoth sunflowers produce a wealth of high-quality sunflower seeds and oil. After the flower has enjoyed its last days of bloom, the sunflower head will dry and the center will release delicious large seeds.
These seeds ripen starting from the outside of the head and gradually make their way to the center. Approximately one pound of seeds can be expected per Mammoth sunflower!
If you plan to harvest your seeds, it’s a good idea to cover the flower head with a cheesecloth or some sort of netting to protect it from hungry birds or squirrels. If eating sunflower seeds isn’t on your to-do list, your local birds and squirrels will thank you for their nutrient-rich snack!
Mammoth sunflowers are also great for providing shade for smaller plants and crops that may be planted underneath the huge stalks. Pollinators such as bees, birds, and butterflies are also attracted to the bright yellow petals of this flower, making this plant a great option to help promote helpful visitors in your garden!
Growing at Home
Mammoth sunflowers prefer full sun and do best when they receive between 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day. The more direct sunlight, the better! This variety will survive in only half sunlight, although the plant will not be able to reach its full growth potential.
Well-draining loamy soil is preferred for this variety, although other types of soil will suffice. Some gardeners prefer to add fertilizer to their soil to promote vigorous growth and maximize height for the Mammoth sunflower. A natural organic fertilizer provides the best option when choosing additional soil to mix into the ground.
Spacing and Planting
When sowing Mammoth sunflower seeds, it’s important to make sure the seeds have plenty of space to establish. Sowing seeds with 18 to 24 inches of space in between is recommended. Adding two to three seeds per hole helps give the seeds the best chance at growth.
Seeds should be sown about 3/4 inches into the ground, one to two weeks after the last expected frost. Sunflowers place deep roots and require lots of space underground – make sure that there are no rocks or tree roots that could interfere with your sunflower establishment.
Because of the deep root system, sunflowers do best when they are planted directly into the ground. This allows the roots to have the best chance to establish without interruptions. Seedlings should appear in about 10 to 20 days.
If multiple seedlings sprout from the same spot, wait until each plant has a few leaves, and then thin down to one plant. Choose the strongest and straightest stem to keep, as this plant will be your best contender for an impressive Mammoth sunflower.
When thinning, simply snip the top of the plants you are choosing to discard. Snipping is the best way to avoid disrupting the growth of the plants you want to keep!
Sunflowers are annual plants, however, don’t be surprised if new sunflowers pop up the following year – seeds may fall from the head or be dropped into the soil by birds, allowing for new growth in the spring!
Young plants require ample moisture to get the best start. Once the Mammoth sunflower is established, the plant is actually quite a drought and heat tolerant! However, you should never allow your plant to dry out.
It’s best to water your plants directly at the soil line in the mornings so that your sunflower can soak up as much moisture as possible before the afternoon heat sets in.
Where to Buy Mammoth Sunflower Seeds
Given the giant height of this variety, most stores and local nurseries only carry the seeds of the Mammoth sunflower. Ordering seeds online is the best way to easily find the variety you’re looking for. When browsing for seeds, don’t forget that the “Russian Mammoth” is another common name for this variety!
For high-quality seeds guaranteed to make an impressive addition to your garden, check out the Mammoth Sunflower seeds from Hoss Tools!
A Sunny Sensation
The Mammoth sunflower is undoubtedly one of the most impressive varieties of giant sunflowers. With an enticing appearance and a boatload of delicious seeds and other benefits, what’s not to love?
Want to know more about sunflowers? For more information on different varieties, planting tips, and more, check out our Sunflower Page for everything you need to know!
- About the Author
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Spending her early childhood in the Hudson Valley region of New York, Alanna Singletary has wonderful memories of helping her uncle tend to his lush garden each year.
Rather than turning on Saturday cartoons, her winter mornings were filled with sap collection and maple syrup production; while summer days brought tomato picking and countless hours tending to a homemade tomato sauce.
Now residing in North Carolina, Alanna continues to assist with her father’s grand garden and is working on growing crops of her own. Her garden experience at an early age set her up for a constant desire to learn, something she continues to carry in all aspects of life.