Q:

Why do sunflowers face the sun?

A:

Quick Answer

No one knows why sunflowers track the sun, but scientists suspect that it may enhance the flower’s chances for pollination, increase the amount of heat the flower absorbs or accelerate the maturation of the sunflower seeds. Sunflowers achieve their movement through the differential growth rate of the cells in the stem. When the cells on the right side of the plant grow quickly, the flower head tilts the opposite direction.

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Why do sunflowers face the sun?
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Full Answer

In addition to their sun-tracking habits, sunflowers are famous for their large flower heads and tall stature. However, the large part at the top of a sunflower head is not a single flower. Called a flower head, this structure contains hundreds or thousands of discrete flowers. After pollination, each flower turns into a seed. The largest sunflower heads may span more than 32 inches in diameter. The tallest sunflower ever recorded grew to more than 25 feet in height.

Sunflower plants grow wild throughout North America, but farmers use cultivated varieties that differ from their wild counterparts in a number of ways. While cultivated varieties produce more seeds per flower head than the wild counterparts do, they only have one head per plant, whereas wild plants may have up to 20 heads on each plant.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do I prune sunflowers?

    A:

    According to plant and seed company Burpee, sunflower seedlings should be pruned in order to create a sturdier and more wind-resistant adult plant. Seeds must initially be planted in groups of 2 to 3 seeds. When the seedlings reach a height of 3 to 4 inches, all but one strong seedling is snipped off. Extra garden soil is then carefully filled in around the one remaining seedling.

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  • Q:

    How do you transplant sunflowers?

    A:

    Transplanting sunflowers isn't difficult and is similar to transplanting other plants. The main thing to keep in mind is that the stems on young sunflowers are very delicate and may require a bit of care for the first weeks.

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  • Q:

    Are there pink sunflowers?

    A:

    The Miss Mars, or Ms. Mars, sunflower, Helianthus annuus, has petals that are merlot in color and transition to pink over time. Miss Mars flowers are available for sale from Burpee.

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  • Q:

    What are sunflowers used for?

    A:

    Sunflowers are harvested for oil, as a substitute for soybean meal for ruminant animals and as a silage crop. Their seeds are enjoyed as a snack by humans, with small seeds used as birdseed. Sunflower oil is used in paints, varnishes and plastics, soaps, detergents, surfactants, adhesives, fabric softeners and lubricants. The sunflower also shows potential as an alternate fuel source in diesel engines.

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