Why You Should Grow Russian Mammoth Sunflowers

They are also very useful for food for you and your flock! See why you should grow Russian Mammoth Sunflowers!

As you are planning your garden, hidden away, pouring over your stash of newly arrived seed catalogs. You are staring at vegetables, flowers, fruits and all things “seeds”. Don’t even bother to deny it; I know how it is because I’m doing it, too.

In fairness to you, if everyone would leave you alone with your obsession and not expect you make lunch or fold laundry, you wouldn’t have to resort to hiding.

Well, you’re among friends here and while you’re scribbling away at your seed list for the coming year, I would like to make a suggestion for something to try in your garden. You should grow Russian Mammoth sunflowers.

russian mammoth sunflowers post

Why Grow Russian Mammoth Sunflowers

Sunflowers have their obvious delights but these ones we originally decided to try because of the fond memories I had of them from my time living in Russia as a missionary. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Russian mammoth sunflower, its huge head dangling over the side of a fence looking for all the world like it was trying to choke itself on the fence post.

  • A Russian mammoth sunflower is visually stunning not just for its size (they get to be about 8-10 feet and their head diameter can be over 12 inches), but because of its bright, happy color and large, umbrella-like leaves.
  • The stalks are a good 3-4 inches in diameter when the soil is good and we have to saw them down at the end of the season; they make great kindling, because they burn fast and hot when dried. Sometimes the heads get so large that the stalk begins to bend but quite often they grow up straight and tall and cut down into orderly shapes for your kindling pile.
  • We discovered upon growing them that, apart from beauty, Russian Mammoth sunflowers are practical additions to the homestead. In fact, they can produce over one thousand seeds per head, making them a great supplement for your backyard flock.
  • They do take up space, I’m not going to lie, but if you have it, I believe it will be space well used. When drying them, be extra sure to flip the heads repeatedly in order to avoid mildew.

sunflower seeds

What does the mammoth Russian sunflower need to grow?

  • It’s a very low maintenance plant, perfect for beginner gardeners.
  • You can start the seeds indoors, or plant directly into the soil when it’s warmed, 1-2 weeks after last frost date.
  • Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep, 3-6 inches apart.
  • Grow in an open area, as they will need lots of space.
  • Russian mammoth sunflowers need lots of sun, so plan for an open sunny area.

sunflower large

Russian mammoth sunflower care:

  • Water weekly, at least to 1 inch depth
  • Pull weeds as needed
  • When seedlings reach 4 inches in height, thin plants to 16 inches apart to allow room to grow.

Have you grown sunflowers before? Will you grow Russian mammoth sunflower in your garden?

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38 thoughts on “Why You Should Grow Russian Mammoth Sunflowers”

  1. Annie @ Montana Homesteader

    We always grow sunflowers every year. I was actually planning to buy some more seeds this year so will definitely check these out. Pinning this so I remember!

  2. Cyndee Wells/Rude Mom Blog

    WOW, those are beautiful. We grow sunflowers each year but I have never heard of these before. I will definitely be looking for them next time I go to the seed store here.

    1. I ordered our original Mammoth seeds from E&R, a Mennonite company that doesn’t have a website but does have a catalog. Here’s the scoop on them from Dave’s Garden site http://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/c/5271/. The Mammoths are heirlooms and perform true to type every year but in order for them to reach their full height and width, make sure you plant them 1-3 ft apart. If you let the seeds drop from the head, you’ll get smaller plants because they’ll be crowded. Just a note, E&R used to sell a selection of Seminis seed along with a huge selection or organic and heirloom seed but their last catalog says that until GMOs are proven safe (yeah, right), they will no longer sell any GMO seed. The two places I still order seed are E&R and Baker Creek – I love both of them! I love Baker Creek selection of unusual seed (Gettle’s book The Heirloom Life Gardener is awesome, by the way http://homesteadlady.com/book-review-the-heirloom-life-gardener/) but I really like E&R’s prices, especially bulk! I’m learning to save more seed every year so I spend less overall which, in my mind, means that I can buy expensive seed because I’m, overall, spending less. Maybe I should write in an addition in my check register – think my husband would get it?

  3. I have plans to plant lots of sunflowers this year. In addition to being a great food source and beautiful, they also attract the leaffooted bug which I had a terrible time with last year. So I’m going to try to use the sunflowers to lure them off my tomatoes.

  4. I loved these when I was growing up in Pennsylvania. I haven’t even considered growing them here though. I think I might just have to try this year. Even after being here 12 years, I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of growing things in Florida.

  5. Those are gorgeous! We don’t normally grow sunflowers, but I’m thinking I should as the sunflower seed is part of our goat ration.

  6. Sunflowers can also heal the land! I’ve heard about some projects around the US where sunflowers are grown in areas where the soil is not fit for growing food, and the sunflowers take out the pollutants. You have to handle the full sunflowers carefully after and they need to be handled as toxic waste, but the land is safe again after.

  7. Oh, what cool flowers! I bet they are simply gorgeous when in full bloom! And I love that they are so practical — they provide additional fee for the animals. How cool!

  8. I love sunflowers unfortunately I can’t seem to grow them. They die after they bud out of the ground. These are beautiful though!

  9. Oh, I’m hoping to pick yo LOADS of gardening tips from you, because I SUCK at gardening. Every single pot plant I’ve ever owned has died 🙁 I’m working on it!

    These are absolutely gorgeous!

  10. OMG those are BEAUTIFUL!!! I wish I could plant, but my 6 year old has a green thumb so I will request these this year LOL!!

  11. Taylor-Made Ranch Homestead

    I grow mammoth sunflowers along the fence of my veggie garden every year simply because I love them. My grandmother had a section of the garden that she planted just for herself, a decadent luxury in her opinion but she loved that tiny patch of color. I carry this tradition on by planting a row of these beautiful sunflowers and I enjoy them all year long. When the season is up I’ll harvest the heads and either let the chickens eat them or use the seeds in our bird feeder since we don’t enjoy eating them ourselves. Thanks for sharing this post. (visiting from Green Thumb Thursday hop)

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

  12. I’ve never heard of Russian Mammoth Sunflowers before. I MUST have these at my house – I wonder how well they grow in our area. I’m going to be doing some digging and figure out what I need to do to grow these monsters! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. Love them – worth the space they take up. Pollinators love these, too, which is important. You can also use them as structure for beans to climb.

  14. Little Mountain Haven

    YES! YES! YES! to the hiding in the bathroom with seed catalogues! I’ve been going to bed with them too. I have little kids and it’s hard to sneak the day dreaming.
    Love this variety suggestion, I’ve grown a few varieties before but not the russian mammoth. We wanted to try growing something for seeds this year, just to play around with the ‘self sufficiency’ should the need arise for oil. I will definitely pick some up!

    We’ve found that the deer LOVE them. they hop the fence (ahem 8 feet tall PLUS some bright tape along the top PLUS a niteguard) and gorge on them every year. I’d love to try growing beans up them but I’d be so concerned that we’d lose all our beans. Maybe I will brave it this year. 🙂

    Thanks for Sharing this On Green Thumb Thursday!

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  17. I’m so excited to be growing these this year. I am trying to make almost all of my plants in the garden functional this year. Found out I have a Linden tree in the back as well. These sunflowers look absolutely beautiful with their large leaves and growing so tall. Wish I could sent a photo to you on here this summer.

  18. This is the first year I’m growing the mammoth sunflowers, I First fell in love with them when we lived in Iowa .. you could drive for miles down the farm roads and see open fields of them.
    My flowers are about 3 ft high now I can’t wait to see their pretty ? faces bloom!!

  19. Have a couple of these blooming right now outside my front door. Tallest one is over 12 feet tall. First to bloom is dropping with its heavy seed production. Grew other types in front of Russian Mammoth. Awaiting these to bloom. So happy to see the bees rolling in the pollen!

    1. Me and my daughter just planted 42 of these, that’s right I said 42!! All around the perimeter of my 2 yards, I’m using 18 of them as a sort of fence because my home is on a corner lot and my patio is visible from the road so hopefully they will give us some privacy and the rest are along the fence line. I’m praying that they all come up and get as beautiful as I’ve heard they can get. Love the site BTW, great source for good gardening reads. Good luck everyone!

  20. Hello,
    {DArick here} Well for starters I visited your website to get a few pointers and now 65 days later my 40 plus mammoth plants, plus 11 inch” heads & my largest 12 feet plant are the largest spawn of sunflower plants ever seen locally.

    How I wish I could send you a panoramic photo of my plants that multiple people have complemented me on.

    My key opinion, finding a good sun location did the trick for me so next year I will plant the biggest head and tallest plant seedlings from this year’s
    crop in the spring!

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