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Good Life Garden


Helianthus annus

In History

Hardy and widely adaptable, this plant has a long history in the U.S. and Central America. Native Americans once used the seeds to make a nutritious gruel or cake, high in both vitamin E and phenolic antioxidants.


Growing Tips:
Sunflowers prefer areas with full sun. Most species require regular amounts of water. Large species require very moist and rich soil.


Pest Management

  • Aphids
    Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long, slender mouth parts that they use to pierce stems, leaves, and other tender plant parts and suck out plant fluids. Almost every plant has one or more aphid species that occasionally feeds on it. Many aphid species are difficult to distinguish; however, identification to species is not necessary to control them in most situations.
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  • Carrot beetle
    Carrot beetles infest flowers such as dahlia, iris, lily, and sunflower. Adults are reddish brown, 1/2-inch long, and feed both above and below ground. Larvae are up to 1-1/4 inches long, white to bluish, and have a dark head.
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  • Foliage-feeding caterpillars
    Most flowers are susceptible to damage from caterpillars of one or more species. Caterpillars are the immature or larval stage of moths and butterflies. Only the larval stage chews plants. Although adults consume only liquids, such as nectar and water, they are important because they choose which plants to lay eggs on. Larvae have three pairs of legs on the thorax (the area immediately behind the head) and leglike appendages on some, but not all, segments of the abdomen.
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  • Glassy-winged sharpshooter
    The glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis (formerly H. coagulata) is an insect that was inadvertently introduced into southern California in the early 1990s. This insect is native to the southeastern United States and was most likely brought into California accidentally as egg masses in ornamental or agricultural plant foliage.
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  • Leaf beetles, cucumber beetles, flea beetles
    Cucumber, flea, and leaf beetles are pests of many flowers, including dahlia, lily, and sunflower. Adult cucumber beetles are shiny with black heads, long antennae, and about 0.25 inch long. Larvae are whitish and slender with three pairs of short legs; the head and tip of the abdomen are darker. Adults may be striped or spotted, depending upon species. Flea beetles are small, shiny beetles with black legs enlarged for jumping. Other leaf beetle adults are long, oval, blunt, and have threadlike antennae. The blue milkweed beetle adult is metallic green-blue.
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  • Leafhopper
    Leafhoppers feed on several flower hosts such as aster, chrysanthemum, dahlia, and nasturtium. Most adult leafhoppers are slender and less than or about equal to 1/4-inch long. Some species are brightly colored, while others blend with their host plant. Leafhoppers are active insects; they crawl rapidly sideways or readily jump when disturbed. Adults and nymphs and their pale cast skins are usually found on the underside of leaves.
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  • Spider mites
    Mites are common pests in landscapes and gardens and can be found feeding on many fruit trees, vines, berries, vegetables, and ornamental plants. Although related to insects, mites are not insects but members of the arachnid class along with spiders and ticks. The spider mites, also called webspinning mites, are the most common mite pests and among the most ubiquitous of all pests in the garden and farm.
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  • Sunflower stem weevil
    Sunflower stem weevils are pests of sunflowers. Adult beetles are dark brown with light spots and about 1/8-inch long. Larvae are pale maggots.
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  • Thrips
    Thrips, order Thysanoptera, are tiny, slender insects with fringed wings. They feed by puncturing their host and sucking out the cell contents. Certain thrips species are beneficial predators that feed only on mites and other insects. Beneficial species include black hunter thrips and the sixspotted thrips. Pest species (often in the family Thripidae) are plant feeders that scar leaf, flower, or fruit surfaces or distort plant parts. Other species of thrips feed on fungal spores and pollen and are innocuous.
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