Is Sunflower a Herb or Shrub – What is the Difference?
A field of sunflowers is a breathtaking sight. It can stop an entire busload of tourists in its tracks. Believe us – we made our bus driver pull over when we passed a sunflower farm in central France! They are so stunning, we often don’t give it a second thought what type of plant they are. So…is sunflower a herb or shrub?
Is Sunflower a Herb or a Shrub?
Common sunflowers (H. annuus) are classified as herbs. They are one of the seventy specifies of the Helianthus genus, and belong to the annual flowers in the Asteraceae family. Being an annual plant, sunflowers need to be replanted each season in order to appreciate their beauty and harvesting purposes.
Welcome to the Garden Bench Top where in today’s article we are going to explore the wonders of the humble sunflower.
So if you’re ready, grab a coffee (or a sunflower seed coffee – check below for the video on how to make it) and settle in.
What are the Benefits of Sunflowers?
Not only are sunflowers a ray of sunshine in any garden, they do also bring other benefits. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites.
Attracts the Right Kind of Fauna
Sunflowers are such a brightly colored beacon, it is hard not to be drawn to its beauty. And the same applies to local wildlife. Because sunflowers are so large and so tall, they will attract all kinds of beautiful wildlife to your garden.
Not only will it create a beautiful ambience for you to watch while you sip your warming tea, it is beneficial for your garden plants. Wildlife like bees and hummingbirds are necessary for the pollination process of some plants. Without these types of beneficial fauna, your homegrown produce won’t be as abundant or prolific.
Sunflowers can be used as effective screens in your garden. Because they are so tall and grow so quickly, you can develop a beautiful green (and yellow) screen in a short period of time for your garden.
Use sunflowers to hide unsightly parts of the garden, like worm farms or compost piles. Or simply use them as a visual barrier to divide your garden into different segments.
The great thing is the barrier will only last for a year, allowing you to move it around each season.
Good for the Soil
Sunflowers are known to have deep roots, that like to tap into the lower sources of moisture. This brings many benefits to your garden’s soil. Like potatoes, the sunflower roots will help to break up any compacted soil.
As the roots grow deeper into the soil, it allows more water and oxygen to penetrate further into the ground. This will in turn also attract more microorganisms into the area, as well as beneficial bacteria, fungi and microbes. All of which are essential for a healthy living soil.
Some commercial farmers actually include a crop of sunflowers into their rotation schedules to deliver these benefits and enrich their soil.
The Many Uses of Sunflowers
Sunflowers are such a versatile herb. Not only can they make your day brighter just by being in the same room, some parts of the plant are even edible – sunflower seeds.
You may have even used other products derived from sunflowers, such as sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is a great option for domestic cooking purposes. It is extracted from the sunflower seeds, that are pressed to extract the unique oil.
Did you know sunflowers can be used to make coffee? Some innovative individuals discovered that if you crush up the sunflower seed hulls, the resulting product can be used to produce a tasty coffee – it is called sunflower seed coffee. Check out this quick video by Hack showing how they make their daily coffee.
While we are on the topic of coffee and sunflowers, this short video shows how Life’s Little Sweets makes her coffee with Sunflower Seed Butter and coffee.
Final Thoughts on Is Sunflower a Herb or Shrub?
Sunflowers are herbaceous plants that are unique and beautiful specimens that every gardener should grow along their gardening journey. There are so many ways to use sunflowers, besides just admiring their magnificence.
Sunflowers are even edible plants. You can make sunflower oil, sunflower seed butter and even sunflower seed coffee. Or if you are lazy, simply roast up the sunflower seeds and eat them al natural.
What’s your favorite way of enjoying sunflowers?