If you’re looking for an eye-catching sunflower to add to your landscape, take a look at the Soraya Sunflower. This award-winning sunflower boasts beautiful orange petals and dark centers. They attract butterflies and bees and are perfect for cut flower arrangements.
Read on to learn more about the Soraya Sunflower’s characteristics, how to grow your own, and how to use it to attract pollinators to your garden.
Characteristics of Soraya Sunflowers
When describing a sunflower, most people will talk about their yellow petals and dark centers. But sunflowers come in a variety of colors, including the orange petals of the Soraya sunflower.
Growing 5-6′ tall and boasting 26″ stems with 4-6″ blooms, the Soraya is a little smaller than the average height of a sunflower. This makes it perfect for your border garden or containers and as a cut flower for bouquets.
Soraya sunflower’s distinct orange petals are one of the characteristics that helped it become the first sunflower to win an All-American Selections (AAS) Award. AAS is “an independent, non-profit organization committed to bringing you award-winning flowers and vegetables.”
Not only has the Soraya sunflower won an All-American award, but it can also boast of winning a Fleuroselect award. Fleuroselect is the “International Organization for the Ornamental Plants Industry.”
Grow Your Own Soraya Sunflowers
Interested in growing these award-winning beauties yourself? Here are three methods to try.
You can start your seeds indoors and transplant them outside later. Grab a seed starting kit that contains everything you need to get started. Start your seeds indoors about four weeks before the last threat of frost in your area. Plant one seed per cell to about 1/2″ depth, cover with soil, and water.
Starting seeds indoors means you’ll also need a grow light. Simply placing your seeds in a sunny spot will result in plants that aren’t as strong as those grown under a grow light.
Keep your Soraya sunflower seeds watered and fertilized until it starts warming up outside.
To help acclimate the plants to outside temperatures, you’ll have to harden them off. Starting about a week before the last frost, take your trays of sunflowers outside for a few hours a day. Be sure and start them in the shade so the sun doesn’t burn up the tender plants.
You can gradually move your Soraya plants into the sun, increasing the time you leave them outside until they’re outside all day and night. Now you can transplant them wherever you choose.
Starting your seeds indoors is a bit more time-consuming, but you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful orange blooms of your Soraya sunflower earlier when using this method.
The easiest way to grow your Soraya sunflowers is to direct-sow them after the last threat of frost in your area.
Make sure you choose an area that gets full sun. Remove weeds and till the soil. Using a hoe, make a furrow to plant your seeds 1/2″ deep. Because each Soraya sunflower plant can have 20-25 stems, be sure to allow 18-24″ between the plants.
For best results, plant your Soraya sunflowers in double rows with drip tape between the rows to help with irrigation.
Try Planting in a Milk Jug
Yes, you read that right. You can even start your Soraya sunflower seeds in a milk jug in the winter! You’ll generally start this method in January or February.
Grab some clear one-gallon milk or water jugs. Cut around the jug just under the handle leaving a couple of inches at the back that will function like a hinge. Be sure to cut some drainage holes in the bottom.
Next, add 2-3″ inches of soil to the bottom of the jug, plant your seeds, water, and tamp down the soil. Bring the lid back over and tape it to the bottom half of the jug. Then, just place your jugs outdoors where they get sunshine but are sheltered from the wind, and let nature do its thing until spring.
In the springtime, start checking your jugs for seedlings and water as necessary. On warm days, leave the tops off during the day and close them back up at night.
After the last frost, simply transplant your Soraya seedlings into your garden or containers. No need to worry about hardening these off like seeds started indoors. No matter which way you choose to plant your Soraya sunflowers, you’ll be enjoying blooms and attracting pollinators in 80-90 days.
Attracting Butterflies and Bees
The Soraya sunflower only has a pistil, or female flower parts, so there is no pollen. While this makes them perfect for cut bouquets, think no yellow pollen all over your summer white table cover, it also means there is no pollen for bees.
However, their color still attracts butterflies and bees and they still produce nectar. So don’t leave these plants out when you’re growing for pollinators.
When planting for pollinators, plant your Soraya sunflowers in groups rather than rows. To encourage butterflies to lay their eggs on your sunflowers, make sure they are planted in an area that is sheltered from strong winds.
Sunflower pollen boosts bees’ immunity to certain pathogens, so add other varieties to your garden like the Chocolate Cherry sunflower.
Harvesting Soraya Sunflower
You can leave your Soraya sunflowers on the stem and let the birds eat the seeds.
If you want to feed the birds this winter, cut the flower a couple of inches below the stem and hang them upside down to dry. During the winter, you can just place the whole head outside on a table or the ground, or nail it to a tree or post.
If you want to use them in bouquets around your home or for friends, be sure to cut the stem before the flower fully opens. It’ll bloom in a few days in a vase of water.
Where to Buy Soraya Sunflower Seeds
Ready to plant your own Soraya sunflowers? You can purchase them in a variety pack with other sunflowers, so they’ll be ready to plant whenever you’re ready.
90 Million Acres of Sunflowers
According to the USDA, there are over 1.6 million acres of sunflowers grown each year in the US, and about 90 million acres are grown worldwide. That’s a whole lot of immunity boosting for your favorite pollinators! Be a part of 90 million acres and grow your own Soraya Sunflowers, or any of the other varieties. You can learn more about on our sunflower page.