I planted at most three dozen mammoth sunflowers last spring. They are all coming up fine, some even blooming. However, one in particular is a tiny, what I would describe as dwarf, that is less than three feet tall, that has already bloomed with a tiny flower on it. Any idea what happened?

I'll gladly answer any questions. I would like to know what is going on, thanks!

Edit: I live in Pennsylvania, US, and they were planted in about April. They are closer than I wanted, planted in the ground, but the only difference between the normal plant and the dwarf is that this one was grown from the ground. The rest of the seeds that I did not plant I threw in a hole and nothing grew except this one, I assume.

The plants themselves came from the seeds of one mammoth sunflower last year, which I grew in planters for a few years, then I transplanted them into the ground. It is its own little flower, not connected to any others.

enter image description here enter image description here Little flower enter image description here Little flower stem enter image description here

  • Can you add some information on the growing conditions please, like where you are, whether the plants are in pots or the ground, are they all growing in the same area, is there any difference in where the small one is growing compared to the others and so on. A photograph or two would also be very helpful, showing a normal one and the stunted one...
    – Bamboo
    Aug 28, 2018 at 14:59
  • I have edited it, anything else you need to know? when i get home i can take better pictures but that is all i have on me Aug 28, 2018 at 16:40
  • Hard to tell from the first image whether the small plant is an offshoot off one of the larger ones or is a separate plant, but can you please clarify - were the large plants all bought as plants and you put them in the ground, but the little one grew by itself from the soil?
    – Bamboo
    Aug 28, 2018 at 18:03
  • last year i grew one mammoth sunflower, these are the seeds from that single one. I checked but I will check when I get home again, it was not connected, but was using the larger one to prop itself up Aug 28, 2018 at 18:49
  • i grew them in planters until they were a few weeks old then transplanted them, if that matters Aug 28, 2018 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


Well, there are one or two possibilities. You say you grew these plants from seeds you'd previously collected from a sunflower, threw in a planter, and then moved them into the ground. You also say you don't know whether the dwarf sunflower grew by itself in the ground (from presumably previously dropped or planted seed) or whether it came from the planter with all the others.

Sunflowers do not come true from saved seed - some might, but many won't, so it's a bit of a guessing game as to what you'll get from the saved seeds. The likeliest explanation is that the dwarf one was just a rogue seed that was genetically programmed to be much, much smaller than the others - Helianthus is a large group of plants, including perennials, and even in Helianthus annuus varieties (sunflower) there are dwarf varieties as well as giant ones. The other, slightly less likely explanation is that this seed didn't have a very good start - it may have grown on its own in the ground and was simply crowded out by the other plants, so it's flowered as soon as it's able to, despite its small size. Finally, if you ever feed the birds with sunflower seeds, this one might have been a seed from the bird mix - or dropped by a bird as it flew over.

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