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Who isn’t enchanted when they see sunflowers? The typical yellow sunflower varieties are enough to enthrall us and make us feel like we’re seeing the sun down here on earth. But did you know there are white sunflower varieties too?
My sister recently gifted me with a few white sunflower seeds, and it was quite the excitement as I started planting the sunflowers. When I saw the first white sunflower blooms, I was over the moon (or should it be the sun in this case?).
I want you to share in my white sunflower excitement, so I’ve put together this comprehensive care and growing tips guide. When you are ready to plant white sunflowers in your garden beds or planters, you’ll know exactly what to do.
Plus, there isn’t just one type of white sunflower. There are at least 15 kinds! I share information about each variety, so you’ll know exactly which cultivar is best for you.
My Bottom Line Upfront: The Best White Sunflower Variety
If you can’t wait to know what the best white sunflower variety is, you’re in the right spot.
It wasn’t an easy decision (and you may wanna call me indecisive). But after considering each cultivar carefully, I’ve finally made my decision. I couldn’t just pick one white sunflower as the best, so I’ve got a three-way tie:
- The Italian White sunflowers with their slender daisy petals and dark center disc.
- The Cherry Rose sunflowers with dark eyes, deep cherry halo, and white-tipped petals.
- The Coconut Ice sunflowers with creamy white petals are perfect for flower dyeing.
What Are White Sunflowers?
White sunflowers are the white-petaled cousins of the typical yellow sunflowers we all love and adore. True white sunflowers that only have white petals (although the blooms are typically more a creamy white or pale yellow) are rare.
The scientific name for sunflowers is Helianthus annuus, and they are part of Asteraceae’s daisy flower family. Did you know that in Spanish, sunflowers are called “garisol,” which literally translates to “a trip around the sun.” How special, right? But white sunflowers make me think it is more like a trip around the moon.
Sunflowers that are white symbolize purity, new hope, and peace – the perfect addition to your garden, wouldn’t you say? Or perhaps as a gift for a loved one who’s starting a new chapter in their life?
White sunflowers are cultivars or hybrids that are the result of selective breeding. These sunflowers don’t lack the vibrancy you associate with the traditional bright golden-yellow bloom. Sure, white is more of an understated color, but think of the wonderful contrast white sunflowers add to your garden of yellow, purple, red, or pink sunflowers? Or to your bouquet or flower arrangement?
15 White Sunflower Varieties
Here are the best white sunflower cultivars.
I included those white sunflowers that are pure white, cream, greenish-white, and a few that have white/cream outer petals.
1. Moonshadow Sunflower
Petal color: Creamy white
The Moonshadow sunflower is easy to grow. This white sunflower cultivar has creamy white daisy-like petals and a dark chocolate center disc. The blossoms grow 3 to 5 inches when they are fully open. The Moonshadow is a multi-branching sunflower, meaning the plant produces many stems with flowers.
The white sunflower plant is pollen-free, matures early, and grows to a height of 3 to 4 feet, making it a dwarf sunflower variety. It also attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies – a definite reason I’d plant some Moonshadow sunflowers in my garden (#butterflycrazy).
Plant the Moonshadow white sunflower in your garden, cut a few stems for charming indoor bouquets, or dye the flower for a funky color splash in your bouquets.
2. Italian White Sunflower
Petal color: Creamy white
Bees and butterflies also adore the Italian White sunflower! (Yay! Another white sunflower I can plant.) The Italian White sunflower has an even more daisy-like appearance than the Moonshadow sunflower since each petal is slender. The flower has a smaller center disc too.
You may find that these sunflowers have a tinge of yellow or orange around the dark chocolate brown disc – much like a halo – but the petals are predominantly white. This white sunflower cultivar grows 5 to 7 feet tall, and each flower grows 4 inches wide when mature.
The plant produces many flowers during the growing season, so you can admire the Italian White sunflowers for longer. I like to cut my Italian White sunflowers and arrange them with some purple and pink sunflowers. I must admit, the flower arrangement looks really pretty and adds that splash of color I need in my study during summer.
3. ProCut White Nite Sunflower
Petal color: Creamy white
The ProCut White Nite sunflower was cultivated by Dr. Tom Heaton, a US plant breeder. The white sunflower cultivar is a 4 to 6-foot single-stemmed plant that grows one 4 to 6-inch flower per stalk. The creamy white petals are lush and closely arranged around the dark brown middle disc.
The sunflowers are pollen-free, which is great news for those who suffer from pollen and related allergies!
The ProCut White Nite sunflower looks stunning in your garden and flower arrangements. Pair it with other soft-colored or vivid-colored blooms.
4. ProCut White Lite Sunflower
Petal color: Pale, creamy white/yellow
The ProCut White Lite sunflower is similar to the ProCut White Nite Sunflower – the biggest difference is the center disc, which is a light, golden green. The flowers grow 7 to 8 inches wide, and the petals are also densely arranged around the center. The single-stemmed plant grows 4 to 6 feet tall.
Use the pollenless ProCut White Lite sunflowers in wedding bouquets or your home’s colorful flower arrangements.
5. Coconut Ice Sunflower
Petal color: Creamy white
The Coconut Ice white sunflower hybrid has been around for over a decade (at the time of writing). The easy-to-grow annual has creamy vanilla-white petals that are all white at the tips. The center disc is a very dark brown, making a rich contrast with the white blooms. The Coconut Ice sunflower is a 4 to 5-feet single-stemmed plant that grows 4 to 8-inch flowers.
I think the Coconut Ice sunflowers are great for border planting, flower arrangements, or when you dye flowers.
6. Strawberry Blonde Sunflower
Petal color: Creamy white with a reddish-pink halo
Technically, the Strawberry Blonde sunflower isn’t a “pure” white sunflower. But I want to live boldly and include other options for you too. I can just imagine how elegant a garden or flower arrangement will be when you plant Coconut Ice, ProCut White Lite, and Strawberry Blonde sunflowers. Can you see all the prettiness too?
The Strawberry Blonde sunflower is a multicolored flower with a dark eye (center disc), reddish-pink halo, and creamy white-tipped petals.
The deer-resistant, pollen-free, branching plant grows 5 to 6 feet high. Plant each Strawberry Blonde cultivar about 12 inches apart to promote blooming and branching.
7. SunFill Green Sunflower
Petal color: Pale whitish-green
The SunFill Green sunflower is very unique, and Tom Heaton also created this cultivar. The sunflower has 3 to 4-inch wide pale green (almost like a greenish-white depending on the light) geometric petals or calyxes arranged in 4 to 6 layers around a leaf-green eye.
Each sunflower plant grows a single stem that reaches 4 to 6 feet. The SunFill Green is a fast-growing sunflower, so I recommended cutting it for bouquets since the shape of the flower changes if left in your garden for too long.
The pollen-free flowers bloom for quite a long time on the plant and in a vase. I think the SunFill Green sunflower is an excellent addition to a flower arrangement with ProCut White Lite, Moonshadow, and Coconut Ice sunflowers.
8. Gypsy Charmer Sunflower
Petal color: Tricolor with white tips, a pink, orange, red middle halo, and yellow bottom halo
Again, the Gypsy Charmer sunflower isn’t your traditional white sunflower. But I simply adore these, and there’s enough white in the petals that the sunflower can be kinda (with a little bit of a stretch) considered a white sunflower cultivar.
I’ve actually planted some Gypsy Charmers, Strawberry Blondes, Coconut Ice, and ProCut White Lites in my garden. Every guest loves the color combo and the splashes of color from the Gypsy Charmer and Strawberry Blonde sunflowers in between the other white sunflower varieties. (#I’minlove)
The Gypsy Charmer sunflower has three colors – the inner yellow halo, the pinkish-red middle halo, and the white petal tips. The flower has a dark eye. The pollen-free, branching sunflower grows 4 to 6 feet tall and looks enchanting in your flower arrangement or garden.
9. Cherry Rose Sunflower
Petal color: Rich cherry pink-red halo with white tips
Yes, I know. I’m sure you can see a theme here. The Cherry Rose sunflower blooms in 40 days. The 3 to 4-inch, pollen-free flowers have a dark brown, almost black center disc with white-tipped petals and a bright cherry reddish-pink halo.
The 4 to 5-feet branching plant ensures you can enjoy the Cherry Rose sunflowers during the whole growing season. I love Cherry Rose sunflowers in a flower arrangement with other white or bi-colored sunflowers.
10. ProCut Plum Sunflower
Petal color: Tricolor with cream tips, mauve middle halo, and yellow inner halo
The ProCut Plum sunflower looks a lot like the Gypsy Charmer sunflower; however, the tips aren’t so white, so the halos appear paler. The ProCut Plum also has a smaller yellow inner halo to provide a nice contrast between the dark eye and mauve and cream petals.
The single-stemmed ProCut Plum sunflower grows 4 to 6 feet tall, and each mature flower is 7.5 inches wide. The sunflower is pollenless and ideal for cutting.
11. Jade Sunflower
Petal color: Creamy yellow-white
The Jade sunflower grows 7 to 8-inch flowers with creamy pale yellow-white petals and a light lime green eye. The multi-stemmed sunflower grows 3 to 4 feet tall, making it a dwarf sunflower variety. The pollen-free Jade sunflower is perfect for garden beds, planters, or flower arrangements.
12. Buttercream Sunflower
Petal color: Creamy pale yellow
The Buttercream sunflower is an early bloomer with lush pale, buttery yellow petals surrounding a dark brown chocolate disc. The petals are arranged densely around the eye, but they are “fluttery” and light. It looks almost like they are dancing when there’s a light breeze.
Each mature flower measures 4 to 6 inches across. The multi-stemmed Buttercream sunflower plant grows to 4 to 5 feet. The pollen-free flowers bloom in 70 days. While these flowers look stunning in your garden, the Buttercream sunflower is an excellent cut flower too.
13. Valentine Sunflower
Petal color: Pale, lemon yellow
Sure, the Valentine sunflower does have pale yellow petals. Depending on the light, these flowers sometimes look white-yellow. The Valentine sunflower was bred in Budapest, Hungary. Valentine sunflowers also take 70 days to bloom once they’ve been sown – just like the Buttercream sunflowers.
These sunflowers have dark brown eyes and are perfect for cutting. The blooms last quite long in vases – remember to change the water and ensure the flowers get enough sun.
14. Pink Landum Adorable Pink Sunflower
Petal color: Pinkish-white tips with a bright, dark pink halo. The Pink Landum Adorable Pink sunflowers are simply adorable. They remind me of the Cherry Rose sunflowers, except that the halo is a lot smaller. The 3 to 5-feet single-stemmed Pink Adorables grow 4 to 6-inch blooms. The petals are mostly pinkish-white, and there’s a dark, cherry-pink halo. The eyes are dark brown with a lighter brown center.
Pink Adorable sunflowers are ideal for garden beds, planters, and cutting. Can you imagine Coconut Ice sunflowers with the Pink Landum Adorable Pink sunflowers in a vase on your kitchen counter? (#perfection)
15. Pale Purple Berkheya
Petal color: Pale, icy purple white
The Pale Purple Berkheya sunflower, also called the Zulu Warrior, is native to South Africa. They look more like dahlias than daisies. The plant that resembles a white sunflower grows pale purple-white to lavender petals with purple florets in the dark center disc. The leaves are typically covered in a silky white webbing, unlike the leaves of a sunflower.
However, I wanted to include the Pale Purple Berkheya here because it looks so much like a white sunflower. It’ll be the perfect addition to the other white sunflower varieties you plant. The flowers of the Pale Purple Berkheya grow 4 inches wide, and the multi-stemmed plant reaches a height of 1 foot when mature.
My White Sunflower Growing and Care Guide
If you want to grow white sunflowers, you are in luck! (Really!) Planting and growing white sunflowers follow the same practices as traditional yellow sunflowers. So if you have experience with sunflowers, growing white sunflowers is easy peasy.
And if you are a newbie, I’ve got you. Simply follow these steps.
Caring for White Sunflowers Cheat Sheet
I’ve decided to include a quick cheat sheet on caring for white sunflowers. I always find this handy when I need to quickly reference something.
|USDA Plant Hardiness Zones||Zones 2 to 11|
|Where to Grow||Indoors (especially the dwarf white sunflowers) in containers and pots
Outdoors in garden beds, planters, pots, and containers
|How Long to Bloom||Most white sunflowers mature in 80 to 95 days; however, some varieties mature in 70 days or as short as 40 days|
|Plant Spacing Requirements||Minimum of 8 to 12 inches|
|Temperature Requirements||70 to 95°F for the day
55 to 60°F for the night
|Soil Requirements||Well-draining, nutrient-rich soil
pH range of 6 to 7.5
|Light Requirements||6 to 8 hours of full sun|
|Water Requirements||Water when the topsoil is dry|
|Fertilizer Requirements||Once during the growing season
Choose a slow-release, all-purpose fertilizer
White Sunflower Growing Zones and Temperature Requirements
White sunflowers are typically grown as annuals in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 2 to 11. If you live in the US, you are lucky since these zones cover most of the country.
The ideal temperature to grow white sunflowers is 55 to 95°F. Plant sunflowers when the soil is warm at 50 to 60°F. If you live in the northern half of the USA, plant your white sunflowers between April and mid to June, and if you live in the southern half, you can plant them from mid-March until early April.
White Sunflower Light Requirements
Like the sun worshipers that sunflowers are, white sunflowers also need plenty of sun. Did you know that sunflowers follow the sun? This phenomenon is called heliotropism.
When sunflowers are young, the flower looks east as the sun rises, and as the sun moves across the sky to set west, so does the sunflower track the sun’s movement. When it’s dark, the flower turns to face east again, ready when the sun rises. The reason for this is very sciency, but it has to do with how the plant modulates growth.
A mature sunflower only faces east and doesn’t track the movement of the sun because its growth slows down with age. But back to a white sunflower’s light requirements. These beauties need between 6 to 8 hours of full sun every day.
White Sunflower Soil Requirements
It’s best to plant white sunflowers in well-draining soil so the roots don’t become waterlogged when you water the plant. This can lead to root and crown rot and all other kinds of issues you’d rather avoid. (It can lead to plant death, too, so that’s a big no-no for me.)
The soil also needs to be nutrient-rich since sunflowers generally are heavy feeders. White sunflower varieties that grow taller than 4 feet should be planted in deep soil. However, dwarf white sunflower cultivars shouldn’t be planted in deep soil since they don’t grow too deep.
The best soil types are sandy loam soil, silty clay loam, or clay loam soil with a more alkaline but slightly acidic pH of 6 to 7.5.
White Sunflower Water Requirements
White sunflowers need a moderate amount of water, and it’s essential to not overwater or underwater the plants.
While sunflowers are relatively drought-tolerant, you should water them weekly. But this is dependent on the temperature in your area. If summer is hot or there’s a heatwave, the white sunflower will need much more water than in cooler climates.
I recommend checking the soil and then deciding whether you should water the white sunflowers. I prefer to stick my index finger into the soil – close to the crown of the sunflower. If the soil up to my middle knuckle is dry, I water.
I don’t water the plant if the soil is moist. I wait a few days, check the soil, and when it’s dry, I give the sunflower water. I also water deeply and ensure no water splatters onto the lower leaves (again, this leads to all kinds of problems I try my best to avoid).
White Sunflower Fertilizing Requirements
I don’t worry about fertilizer too much when it comes to my white sunflower plants. I make sure to plant them in nutrient-rich soil that’s high in phosphorus and potassium and low in nitrogen.
I fertilize my white sunflower varieties once during the growing season with a slow-releasing, all-purpose fertilizer. I ensure the plant food doesn’t have a high nitrogen content as nitrogen promotes leaf growth. And I’m sure y’all agree with me, but I want to encourage flower growth.
White Sunflower Pruning Requirements
You don’t need to worry about pruning white sunflowers as there aren’t any real benefits. I like my white sunflower cultivars to grow as many flowers as possible and for as long as possible. Thus, I deadhead the flowers. I make sure to remove any yellow or brown leaves – just like you. I want my white sunflower plants to look elegant.
Tips for Planting White Sunflowers
Here are the best tips when it comes to planting your white sunflower cultivars:
- Choose a soil that drains well and is rich with the proper nutrients for sunflowers.
- Plant the white sunflower seeds 1 to 1.5 inches into the soil when the soil has a minimum temperature of 50 to 60℉. While sunflowers are slightly frost-tolerant, the plants do prefer warmer temperatures.
- Plant each sunflower at least 8 to 12 inches apart to ensure there’s enough growing space for the branching or multi-stemmed white sunflower varieties.
- You can plant multiple seeds together. Once the white sunflower is 6 inches tall, thin the plant so only the strongest contenders continue to grow.
- Use bamboo stakes to support tall(er) white sunflower varieties.
Tips for Cutting White Sunflowers for Bouquets
Most white sunflower varieties are great for cutting, so I thought I’d include some tips here if you like to arrange flowers in vases for your home.
Follow these tips to cut your white sunflowers:
- Cut the stems in the early morning when it is still cool. I’ve learned that the flower wilts when I cut the flower during the day.
- Cut the main stem before the white sunflower has had a chance to open. This helps encourage side blooms.
- I always handle my white sunflowers (and other flowers) gently.
- Choose the right vase or container for the white sunflower. You want to ensure the heavy flower head is adequately supported. (Who wants droopy sunflowers on their kitchen counter?)
- I change the water daily, so it’s always fresh, keeping my flowers looking bright for longer.
Common White Sunflower Problems and Solutions
Here are the most common problems you may encounter when caring for your white sunflowers. Regularly inspect your plants, identify issues early on, and take swift action to save your white sunflowers.
Typical white sunflower problems are:
- Insects that eat the foliage, stems, and flowers
- Fungal diseases
- Bacterial disease
- Environmental factors like overwatering, underwatering, and so forth
- Animals that are attracted to the plants and eat the leaves and flowers
Since white sunflowers are more prone to insect infestations, I’ve focused mainly on that.
|White Sunflower Problem||White Sunflower Symptoms||White Sunflower Solution|
|Grasshoppers and caterpillars||
|Septoria leaf spot||
|Animals like rabbits, deer, and birds||
Answer: White sunflowers look like yellow, sun-tinged sunflowers, except that the petals are white, creamy, or pale yellow. Some white sunflowers have a halo (or two) in another color.
Answer: You can follow the exact instructions for growing and caring for white sunflowers as you would when planting yellow sunflowers. Sunflowers are sun-worshippers. So ensure the white sunflowers get plenty of sun (6 to 8 hours of full sun daily) and are planted in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. The plants should also get a moderate amount of water (and water only when the topsoil is dry).
Answer: The light-colored petals of white sunflowers are more prone to insect infestations, but you can also expect downy mildew, sclerotinia stem rot, rust, and powdery mildew problems. Proper care is the best cure, just like identifying problems early on and getting them sorted so you can save your white sunflowers from damage.
My Final Thoughts on the Best White Sunflower Varieties
Now, you can finally grow your pot of white gold and sit back and admire the white sunflower beauties that grace your garden.
This comprehensive variety and care guide should answer all the questions you have. Simply choose the white sunflower cultivar that calls to you, plant the seeds in a garden bed, planter, or container, and observe the best growth and care practices.
I adore the Coconut Ice, Cherry Rose, and Italian White sunflowers. And the Gypsy Charmer (because I love the name), Strawberry Blonde, Moonshadow, and Buttercream sunflowers come a close second. What white sunflower cultivar is your favorite?
Now that you know all about white sunflower varieties and how to successfully grow them, here’s a guide on harvesting sunflower seeds.