I'm wanting to grow a lot more sunflowers (Helianthus) for food, these days, but one of my concerns is they get really tall, and sometimes I like shorter plants.

If you know of any sunflowers just like the giant ones (e.g. Mammoth Gray Striped, Mongolian Giant, and Black Russian), except with shorter, stockier stems (I'm thinking maybe one to three feet tall), that would be great. If they have smaller heads with the same large size of seeds, that's fine, too, but I prefer larger heads if possible.

I don't know if such sunflowers exist, but it seems like breeding them could be pretty possible, if not (granted my neighbors grow sunflowers that would probably cross with mine). If they grow multiple flowers, but still have large seeds and maybe also large heads, that's even better.

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    Shule...those seed producing sunflowers are the humongous giants! Did you know that sunflowers are the top evolutionary dicots? Brilliant plants. And boy do they attract the pollinators. I've not seen short sunflowers that produce the seed these giants are capable! They grow vertically not horizontally and only take up vertical room. Someone might know of a MIDDIE sunflower but I love these tall giants! – stormy Jun 28 '17 at 21:35
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    @pnuts Is this not incredible? I've always known sunflower is the top dog for dicots...orchid for monocots. I hadn't heard about how these plants knew about Fibonacci formulas way before us oh so brilliant humans! Love this stuff!! Thanks pnut! The more I get to research plants the more I learn now that I am older. Oh my goodness. I love plants and animals...humans? Not so much!! Grins! – stormy Jun 28 '17 at 23:55
  • I know!! My hubby this math geek engineer and I have been going through what sunflowers know! Argghh! Love love love this!! – stormy Jun 29 '17 at 0:00
  • I am firmly within the camp; plants are intelligent. In their world they are brilliant. They communicate via chemistry. They make use of animals that are able to move. These guys are better than aliens from outer space. At least they've evolved with the same rules as all life forms on this planet. Yet to try to anthropomorphize plants is our downfall. I am one hell of a humbled human where plants and animals other than humans are concerned. We are so EL Lame o. Grinning very hugely!! Have you watched plants that actually dance in our time frame to music? They hate heavy metal...ha! – stormy Jun 29 '17 at 0:09

I found a couple sunflowers that look like they could work. They are Dwarf Sunspot and Yellow Pygmy. They appear to have large heads and large seeds, and appear to be dwarfs. Dwarf Sunspot only gets 1–2 feet tall, has 10" heads on average (according to outsidepride.com), and has edible seeds. Yellow Pygmy gets about 2 feet tall with 8–10 inch blossoms. So, they're bigger than many sunflowers (but still not huge). The seeds are probably smaller, too, but perhaps big enough for practical purposes (I haven't grown them yet to find out, though).

Someone told me today about a variety that gets about three feet tall with large heads, as large as Mammoth Gray Stripe's (a big field of them in Parma, Idaho a year or two ago), but I have no idea what kind it was.

Crossing Magnolia Giant with Dwarf Sunspot might have good results (since Magnolia Giant has extra large seeds).

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    Are these seed heads comparable to the seed heads of the giant sunflowers? Cool, SHULE! – stormy Jun 28 '17 at 21:36
  • I edited my answer with more details. I'm still hoping others answer with more ideas that I might like better. – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Jun 28 '17 at 21:40
  • Found a variety that J. Musser swears by for seed production but gee, it is MAMMOTH Grey Stripe...grins. – stormy Jun 28 '17 at 23:34
  • Added a link for short varieties. I'll put money that those tall 8' sunflowers take as much work and chemistry as do these shorter guys. With more air flow less fungus and better pollination. I am curious OF COURSE as to why you want short sunflowers but this is what I found out there. Sunflower fields...ahhhh....just make sure that you bring your epipen!! Honeybees are not a problem. Hornets are. Hold out, you'll get tons of ideas! – stormy Jun 28 '17 at 23:58

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