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Who couldn’t use a little extra chocolate in their lives? Adding chocolate sunflowers to your garden is a guilt-free way to do so. Plus, the rich, velvety, statuesque flowers will add a gorgeously dark and dramatic flair to your landscape. As a bonus, like other sunflower varieties, chocolate sunflowers are easy to come by and simple to grow.
What Are Chocolate Sunflowers?
Like other sunflower varieties, the seeds from chocolate sunflowers are edible. In fact, all sunflowers (scientifically known as the Helianthus annus) are entirely edible from roots and leaves to sprouts and stalks, provided they are organically grown. However, no part of a chocolate sunflower will taste like a candy bar. The word chocolate refers to the colors of the plant’s petals, which are a deep cocoa shade of brown.
And as with other types of sunflowers, the plants love the sunshine and will turn their faces from east to west to follow the sun’s path each day as they grow. Under proper conditions, chocolate sunflowers can grow to be more than five feet tall with large, seed-studded heads and long, velvety petals.
How To Grow Chocolate Sunflowers
You can grow chocolate sunflowers anywhere, as they are happy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 1 through 10. However, if you live in a cooler climate, you can start the plants indoors several weeks before the last frost in your region. Sow the seeds one-half-inch deep in small pots with a well-drained starting mix. Keep them moist and provide plenty of light before transplanting outside when nighttime temperatures are at least 50°F. Space seedlings about a foot apart when transplanting.
To plant directly in the ground, choose a spot with full sun and good soil after all danger of frost has passed. Poke individual seeds one-half-inch deep in the soil, leaving six inches between each plant. Firmly press the soil down over the seeds and keep the ground moist. The plants should germinate within 10 days. Once the seedlings grow to about 3 inches tall, thin them so that there is about 12 inches between each plant, giving them sufficient room to grow.
Keep the soil moist and pull weeds frequently. You might also need to protect them from birds and other critters with netting but remove it as they grow to give them more space. Sunflowers are naturally pest- and heat-resistant, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
If you want an even more abundant crop of chocolate sunflowers, you can sow seeds again three weeks after planting, but make sure to leave a good foot of space between plants.
Other Sunflower Varieties
For a diverse garden filled with tall, bright flowers, you could plant several different sunflower varieties. For example, along with chocolate sunflowers, you can grow chocolate cherry sunflowers, which have rich chocolate-burgundy petals surrounding dark chocolate centers; coconut ice sunflowers with creamy, vanilla petals around a dark center; and the sun-fill purple hybrid variety, which is purple and green with a touch of yellow around a brown center.