If you are fascinated with sunflowers, any picture showing a sunflower plant with multiple heads would confuse you and prompt the question of whether it is even possible or not.
Yes, a sunflower can grow multiple heads! There are several reasons why sunflower grows multiple heads like too much fertilizer, damage by pests, sunflower variety, chemical residue, and genetic mutation.
5 Reasons Why Sunflowers Have Multiple Heads
Sometimes a single-headed sunflower plant may produce multiple heads as a result of factors such as environmental conditions, injury, disease, nutrients as well as other factors.
Finding the reasons can help you better understand your crop and prevent it from happening. Some of the reasons your sunflower plants are growing multiple heads are:
- Too Much Fertilizer
- Damage By Pests
- Sunflower Variety
- Chemical Residue
- Genetic Mutation
Let us discuss this further to understand how each factor affects the sunflowers.
#1. Too Much Fertilizer
Sunflowers with a single head are a common sight to all of us, but with the addition of excessive fertilizer, this can change! With the sudden increase of nutrients, the sunflower can be pushed to develop more than one head.
The use of too much fertilizer is just one of the reasons that sunflowers produce multiple heads. An excess amount of nutrients encourages the plant to produce more than one head as it has everything it needs to produce more heads and ultimately more seeds as well.
Perhaps, the sheer need to pass on the genetic material in the form of seeds is what pushes the sunflower to develop more heads.
#2. Damage By Pests
Just like any plant, the sunflower plant has its share of pests that threaten its health of the plant. In this case, sunflower seed weevils and sunflower midges are the specific pests to look out for. They feed on the sunflower seeds and heads and may cause mutations.
These pests can damage the sunflower heads and if attacked in the early stages of growth and development, there can be multiple heads on one stalk. Attacking the sunflower heads also lowers the quantity and quality of the harvest you will reap.
#3. Sunflower Variety
The variety of sunflower seeds that you buy could be the problem. The normal sunflower variety has a single stem and a single head and is not bushy. The multi-headed sunflower varieties are bushier and have multiple stems and heads.
Some people may actually find the multiple heads of sunflowers to be better to increase yield using a smaller amount of space. Because of this farmers can seek out genetically modified sunflower seed variants that have been engineered to produce multiple heads.
Perhaps even small-scale backyard sunflower growers will prefer to grow a sunflower with multiple heads as opposed to single-head sunflowers. We don’t blame them!
Not every backyard is big. And having a smaller one means making certain accommodations for the plant variants you choose to grow in your precious space!
#4. Chemical Residue
Another unexpected reason why a sunflower can grow multiple heads is chemicals! The chemical residue left from the previous year can affect the sunflower crop and cause them to have multiple heads.
The chemicals could be anything from concentrated fertilizer to herbicides or pesticides. These chemicals applied to one part of your garden or even other areas could get blown by the wind onto your sunflowers while they are young and still growing.
So, the presence of any or all of these chemicals can also cause the sunflower plants to grow multi-heads. If you don’t want multiple sunflower heads, you should abstain from using chemicals, whatever they may be.
#5. Genetic Mutation
Sometimes a double or triple-headed sunflower plant is not a result of intentional cross-breeding! An unintentional genetic mutation could occur for a number of reasons.
Excessive changes in the sunflower’s genes could cause multiple heads to sprout from a single flower. This mutation is likely to already be present in the seed before growing. There is not much you can do after planting this seed to stop the formation of two heads!
Sunflower Varieties That Grow Multiple Heads
So, not all sunflower growers know that a large percentage of sunflower varieties have multiple heads. Research has shown that most sunflowers grown can bear as many as 20 heads per plant. Making it more economical to grow than the usual single-headed sunflower.
However, here are some of the more common varieties of multi-headed sunflowers:
- King Kong Sunflowers
- Solar Flash Sunflowers
- Irish Eyes Sunflowers
- Alchemy Sunflowers
- Suntastic Yellow Sunflowers
- Hallo Sunflowers
- Choco Sun Sunflowers
- Wild Sunflowers
- Maximillian Prairie Sunflowers
Sunflower Varieties That Grow Single Heads
Most sunflower varieties have been domesticated and these are the varieties most commonly grown. Sunflowers are traditionally a flower popular for their large single flower head. If you want a sunflower with one large head you can grow one of the cultivars listed below:
- American Giant
- Russian mammoth
- Mongolian Giant
- Giant Sungold
- Pikes Peaks
- Giant Single
Do You Deadhead Multi-Headed Sunflowers?
Deadheading is common practice with garden flowering plants. This practice actually helps to stimulate more flowering, better flowering, and assists the plant’s health. But, when it comes to sunflowers, should you deadhead them?
Deadheading sunflowers can be helpful if you are interested in quality over quantity! Deadheading other heads on a single stem and just leaving a single sunflower head can help your plant.
You can dead multiple sunflower heads and just leave one, this helps by rerouting the energy and resources to this one head. It results in having one large sunflower head.
So, you can deadhead a sunflower if you want one healthy head. Or you can leave all the heads on if you don’t mind having multiple smaller sunflower heads on one stem.
Yes, sunflowers can grow multiple heads on a single stem!
It’s not much to worry about if your sunflowers start to develop several heads on a single stem. But, if you are interested in a higher quality sunflower, you may not want to have multiple heads growing on a stem as it can result in mediocre size and quality.
If you are looking for sunflowers with multiple heads or just a single head, you should take a look at the variant you are growing. Certain sunflowers variants are exclusively single-headed while others are multi-headed.
Growing plants that need a lot of Phosphorus and you are struggling to source it? Read this: What Are The Natural Phosphorus Sources For Your Plant?
Do sunflowers bloom twice?
Typically, sunflowers only flower once a year. However, once they flower and drop seeds, you will find plants emerging for the next year. This way, they eliminate the need to have to replant them year after year.
What to do with sunflower heads after flowering?
Sunflower heads can be left on the plant as it dries. These seeds are actually edible for both birds and humans. So, you can choose to leave them on for birds or you can remove the head and dry the seeds yourself to act as a healthy snack! Even these seeds can be used to grow a new sunflower plant!