(Mostly) California Native Sunflower
This selection started with seeds from the many-branched California native Yokuts Valley sunflower. Planted once, it reseeded gladly, over the years incorporating characteristics from varieties planted nearby. Now it grows 6-10 feet tall and produces dozens of mainly 4” bright yellow flowers all summer – with occasional surprises like bronze or pale lemon flowers, or big dinner-plate blooms.
The flowers feed honeybees and the seeds attract many birds. If you have chickens, just drag the entire plant into the chicken yard after the seeds set. The birds will extract the seeds and eat any remaining green leaves while they’re at it.
Culture: Sow in full sun a month before last frost. Does not need improved garden soil or lots of water; let it naturalize at the wild edges of the garden or along roadsides.
Saving seed: Just get to the seed before the birds do. Be aware that it can cross with other sunflowers within the one-mile range of honeybees.