Planting Sunflowers to Save Bees

Bees are dying at an alarming rate—seriously—and we need them on our planet more than you might think. These insects are responsible for pollinating around 30% of the world's crops and 90% of the world's wild plants, according to the National Resources Defense Council, and they're a vital asset to our global food production. So how can we help these flying pollinators out and finally save the bees?

Planting bee-friendly flowers is definitely an easy way to help keep our buzzing friends alive, and the sunflower is the perfect option for a summertime plant. They're rich in nectar, and are the perfect color to attract bees—the flying insects actually can't see reddish tinged colors, so sticking with yellow, blue, white, and purple flowers are especially helpful.

It may also benefit yourself and your garden and not just helping the bees!

Feed your Pollinators

The showy large outer petals help attract many species of bees to your sunflowers including honey bees and bumble bees. The centre of the sunflower houses hundreds and thousands of tiny individual florets that contain nectar and pollen, a food source for bees.

Beautiful Cut Flowers

The stunning sunflower blooms are not only pretty and brighten the garden, but also make gorgeous cut flowers.

TIP 1: Having been a flower farmer myself, I learned the best time to cut stems is early morning. Why?

  • Firstly, bees will be out in force early in search of food and you don’t want to compete.
  • Secondly, the flower won’t hold the heat from the sun, so will last longer.

Help Detox Contaminated Soil

  • If you live in an urban area or have a problem with contaminated soil, sunflowers may be one solution to help detox heavy metals.
  • These amazing flowers are known as ‘phytoremediators’ (meaning ‘plant remedy’) and ‘hyper-accumulators’.
  • This is just a fancy way of saying sunflowers can absorb toxic heavy metal contaminants and poisonous chemicals in the soil. These include lead, arsenic, zinc, chromium, cadmium, copper and manganese. Pretty cool hey?

There are lots of research studies* on how these flowers take up chemical contaminants and help leave the soil healthier. They generally need to be planted en masse when used in this way.  Even on a smaller scale in an urban backyard, this could be an easy way for you to have healthier soil.