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Which way to sunflowers face?

Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

I read somewhere online that sunflower blossoms always face east; but recently I read elsewhere that the blossoms move over the course of the day so they are always facing the sun. Which is it?

Thanks!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I've always heard they follow the sun, although I haven't grown them since I was a kid so I don't know that for a fact.

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

According to Wikipedia, they do indeed follow the sun. They begin the day facing east and track the sun all day until they face west by nightfall. At night they reorient their flowers to once again face east. I had always heard they followed the sun and you got my curiosity up!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Me the same as the other 2 gardeners, in fact, when I was a kid, I used to just stick the PLANTS in any old way, some had the flower buds facing the wall as I never knew different then, and was amazed to find they had turned there heads around to face the sun, My Grandkids get to make smiley faces on the large flowering sunflowers by using tweezers, they just pluck out the eyes and mouth either smiling or sad, they sure are a conversation piece when people notice the faces, and it's fun too. good luck with your sunflowers. WeeNel.

Caledonia, OH(Zone 5a)

I had sunflowers last year and it really looked like they followed the sun. And I'm glad I'm not the only one to use wikipedia.

Rolesville, NC(Zone 7b)

The phenomenon of plants "following the sun" (phototropism) is actually neater than you realize. The chemicals that regulate plant growth are repelled by sunlight and therefore move away from it to the opposite side of the plant. This causes the plant to stretch a little bit more on the darker side of the stem and in turn, the stretching pushes the bright side of the stem towards the sun. This is very oversimplified explanation (and it's so much easy to explain with a diagram) but it's still super-cool!

Fitchburg, MA

Well, actually it's both. First, not all sunflowers are phototropic. It's usually the sunflowers with a single-head (the ones with many heads facing in all directions their heads don't move with the sun).

The phototropic ones only follow the sun for a period. When the sunflower is growing the stem & material is soft and pliable, the unbloomed bud is light and will follow the sun during this phase. However, when the sunflower blooms the sunflower slowly stops growing, instead putting the energy into the seed head. At this point the rest of the sunflower (stem, etc.) starts to solidify, and will eventually solidify facing in an eastwardly direction and the bloom will no longer follow the sun. So, the phototropic ones do follow the sun but only for a time and once bloomed will eventually "freeze" facing in an eastwardly direction.

My guess is, they solidify as a mechanism to help support the head which gets bigger and heavier once bloomed. If they didn't solidify they would eventually collapse under the weight of the seed head as it matures.

This message was edited Apr 28, 2008 10:32 AM

Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

Thanks for your informative replies, everyone!

Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

Now that the flowers are out, I have an answer. Some are facing south, some are facing east. (Today there is one facing north west, not shown in this picture).

I haven't seen them following the sun.

ETA: The fence is on the west side of the garden.

This message was edited Aug 6, 2008 12:38 PM

Thumbnail by RosemaryA
Philadelphia, PA(Zone 6b)

They're gorgeous, Rosemary!!

Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

Thanks.

I am disappointed though because I thought they would be redder. They just look brown to me. But the bees love them!

Cumberland Mtns, TN(Zone 6b)

I wish I had counted how many bees I saw last night when I checked on my sunflowers.

Here are a few of mine from a Group Trade.

Thumbnail by nanniepb
Bay Village, OH

They are beautiful RosemaryA. Don't you just love when the package says "red" but what meant was
"not yellow".

I have no luck with large flowers. So I'll just enjoy yours from afar.

Justin, TX

Sun flowers most definatly follow the sun. I have let mine grow for over ten years and they move throughout the course of the day.

Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

Here's an Autumn Beauty that's just come out. It's facing east.

Thumbnail by RosemaryA
Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

The brown coloured sunflowers look a different type to me and the yellow one looks more like the sunflowers that Plantfreak and Marshmellow gave advice on regarding the flowers following the sun, there are hundreds of different flowers called sunflowers, all different sizes and colours too so sometimes it can get a bit confusing when we say sunflowers, to me they are talking about the ones that grow about 6-10 feet tall and are deep yellow/orange, these ones definitely follow the sun till the flowers are fully matured, thats when we make the funny faces on them before the birds start to devour the seeds. great fun and we take pictures with the grand-kids to see who did the best smiley face. very informative guys and in plain English too. good luck all. WeeNel.

Pryor, OK

Wow love finding these things 2 years after the fact.
My sunflowers are in bloom and facing east.
I remember there's a kid's story about the sunflower watching the sun God racing across the sky in his chariot. I can't remember the story, seems like it was a sea urchin that washed up on land and became a sunflower.

Canton, OH

My sister told me that my sunflower doesn't like me, that's why its facing the neighbor's privacy fence...grrr.

Here a shot from last years sunflowers.

Thumbnail by GardenWren
(Tracey) Mobile, AL(Zone 8b)

Quote from GardenWren :
My sister told me that my sunflower doesn't like me, that's why its facing the neighbor's privacy fence...grrr.

Here a shot from last years sunflowers.



Wow GWren, That is a beautiful sunflower.. It must like you to some degree!! If I could possibly talk you into sharing some seed with me... lemme know. : )

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