The bright, cheery blooms of sunflowers create a vibrant ambiance in an outdoor space. While the bold, daisy-like flowers are the hallmark of this plant, sunflowers also introduce medium to deep green foliage, providing a rich texture and creating a consistent backdrop of color.
Sunflowers can be annuals or perennials. Annuals are a short-term commitment and allow you to test out the look of the plant in your space. Perennials provide dependable color and minimal work for many years. Both annual and perennial sunflowers go well with plants with similar care needs, so that means a bright spot that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunlight and weekly watering, depending on rainfall.
Shrubs To Plant With Sunflowers
Weigela is a deciduous shrub that blooms during the spring. The pink, red, or white bell-shaped flowers welcome warm weather and fade around the start of summer. Weigela is still an attractive shrub after blooming, thanks to the foliage that can be solid or variegated green, dark purple, or a bronzy burgundy. Sunflowers bloom near summer’s end, making them an excellent companion to weigela, ensuring constant color and visual interest throughout the growing season.
Hydrangea is another flowering option, but it blooms during the summer. The globe- or cone-shaped hydrangea flower clusters will likely have some overlap with the bold sunflower blooms.
Arborvitae is a coniferous tree-like shrub available in many different shapes and sizes. This plant can be tall and thin or short and round, but arborvitaes always provide consistent color. Use a row of arborvitaes as a screen to shield a yard or outdoor entertaining space from strong winds and neighbors. Gusty wind can damage tall sunflowers, so plant them in front of arborvitae shrubs, allowing the shrubs to block the wind and provide an attractive backdrop.
Perennials To Plant With Sunflowers
The round, sputnik flowers of alliums are perched on top of thin stems, almost creating the illusion that the blooms are hovering over the foliage. Alliums add a lot of visual interest to a space, but they also match the farmhouse and cottage aesthetic created by sunflowers. Feature both of these sun-loving plants in a mixed bed. Create a more organic-looking space by mixing these plants, even if the slightly taller plant is near the front.
The shasta daisy flowers can be single or double blooms based on the variety, but they are lovely and match the look and style of sunflowers. Plant shasta daisies in front of the taller sunflowers, creating a blanket of flowers during the summer, leading up to when the sunflower blooms. Tickseed is another flowering perennial that mimics the look of sunflowers more closely. This spreading plant blooms during the summer. Select a variety with yellow flowers for a monochromatic look, or choose an analogous color, like red or orange, for a blended, cohesive palette.
Annuals To Plant With Sunflowers
Sunflowers often have a full and bushy form, whereas the tall, upright stems of snapdragons offer contrast. The stems are covered in flowers, which are impressive individually but make a bigger statement when grouped together. The unique tubular flowers are entirely different from the daisy-like sunflower blooms, and these plants work together to create a meadow-like atmosphere.
If you are looking for an annual with a bloom closer to sunflower’s, consider zinnia. Zinnia flowers are showy, but echo the shape of sunflowers. The large flowers have rows of petals that gently bend away from the center seed cone. Zinnias bloom from spring until fall and are available in a range of hues, so choose a color to coordinate or contrast, depending on the look you want to achieve.
Best Companion Plants For Sunflowers in Containers
Growing sunflowers in containers allows you to move the planter to the ideal location and display plants on a deck or other outdoor space. The bushy form of sunflowers fills a container and adds height. Trailing plants like petunia and alyssum work well in a mixed container with sunflowers. The reaching stems and flowers will cascade over the planter's edge, elongating the planting while adding more colorful flowers and texture.
Plants Not To Grow With Sunflowers
Sunflowers are generally easy to grow and require lots of sunlight. Plants that cannot live in high levels of sunlight do not make suitable companions. Hosta, coral bells, and impatiens prefer more shade and are unlikely to thrive in the same conditions as sunflowers. Similarly, do not grow sunflowers close to tall trees and shrubs, which may block the light. Sunflowers require full sun for best performance and should be sited carefully.
Best Plants To Grow With Sunflowers
The best plants to grow with sunflowers enjoy full sun and have moderate water needs. Plants like shasta daisy and tickseed have similar-looking flowers, creating a coordinated look. Alternatively, mix things up by planting snapdragons, weigela, and arborvitae for a layered and textured appearance that works well while still allowing each plant to stand out.