Growing Buttercream Sunflowers

Hi Lovelies,

These “Buttercream” sunflowers were planted at 9″ x 9″ spacing. Even close together, you can see some lovely branches forming. Unfortunately, most of these bloomed during stormy weather.

I’m back! The bright sunshine and heat we’ve had the last couple days means one thing – I’m absolutely swimming in sunflowers. I planted about 13 different varieties of sunflower this year, mainly because if all else fails, I know that I can usually depend on them. *knock on wood* Anyway, this post is about one of my current favorites: buttercream.

Last year, when I ordered my first package of buttercream sunflowers, I had done a Google search and came up with very little information. However, there were tons of pictures of delicious cupcakes which were topped with sunflowers made from buttercream icing. Though I love buttercream frosting as much as the next girl (who am I kidding? more than the next girl), these search results weren’t going to help me when it came planting time.

Even though “Buttercream” boasts lovely overlapping petals, they’re still somewhat delicate. The stems are also thinner in diameter, making them more flexible.

As per usual, this variety is an annual and easy to direct sow after the last frost, into warm soil. I know some people who actually start some sunflowers indoors, but I’m firmly against it. It’s enough of a miracle for me too keep trays of plants alive, the last thing I need to do is add sunflowers to the mix. I’ve even managed to run into some folks who have such disdain for these yellow rays of sunshine, that they won’t even plant them in the cutting patch! I think I’ll save that for another post – back to the buttercream!

There are a lot of aspects of this variety that I really enjoy. First, like many sunflowers used for cutting, they are pollen-free. This means that they won’t be dropping yellow pollen all over your clothes and kitchen table. Since there is no pollen, seed production will not occur unless there are varieties that do produce pollen nearby.

Even though the flowers are pollen-free, they still produce nectar and are a welcome addition for the bees. The day I took this photo, I counted around 23 bees on about 17 plants. A great ratio, if you ask me!

Buttercream also boasts a comparatively long bloom time. My experience has shown this variety to be highly productive in terms of branching and quality.  From one planting, I’m able to harvest usable stems for just over two weeks. Stem length, however, is impacted by plant spacing. For example, when planted in a 9″x 9″ grid, the length of branching stems were greatly reduced. Further spacing resulted in better quality branches. Branched stems of this flower tended to have a smaller diameter than other varieties that I’ve grown, and as a result were more flexible. Actual blooms differ from that of say, the pro cut series, in that they do seem much more delicate and would likely not do well if shipped or overly handled.

As their name implies, buttercream flowers are a gorgeous pale  yellow with a dark center, and are indeed the color that I would identify as “stick of butter” yellow. Due to this color variation, they indeed look quite lovely in mixed bouquets.

Buttercream are day neutral and bloom early in the season. Due to these facts, I’ve also been able to succession plant these lovely blooms. Though I’ve found conflicting information online, my first planting of flowers reached maturity at about 55 days (the same as my Pro Cut Brilliance). Main flowers are about 6ish inches, while blooms become progressively smaller with branching. Most websites will list stalks reaching about 5ft. tall – which was accurate last year. However, this season, my plants are around 7ft. I’m sure that this could be due to the tons of rain, the partly shady location, or even because they were planted in black landscape fabric. Your guess really is as good as mine.

Overall, this is a variety that will have a permanent place in my garden for many years to come. The subtle color variation is a refreshing change of pace, and the superior branches make me happy. I hope I was able to help! Have a wonderful day! Much love!

7 thoughts on “Growing Buttercream Sunflowers

  1. I love sunflowers but this year every damn sunflower I had got eaten by bunnies. (I hate bunnies.) ‘Buttercream’ looks like a great sunflower (though on cakes I prefer whipped cream). I think my favorite all time sunflower variety is ‘Italian White’. I’m also a huge fan of Tithonia.

  2. Did you pinch your Buttercream suns? I’d like to plant them tight at about 6″ or less apart but don’t want buds forming up and down the stem. Just want one big sunflower.

    1. I didn’t pinch them. I think they’re just naturally prone to branching. I’m not sure the close spacing would help reduce the number of branches, rather it may just make the flowers smaller. That’s what happened when I changed the spacing from 12 to 9 inches. Hope that helps! Good luck!

  3. Lovely. Besides the cupcake pages, your blog was the only info I could find about the buttercream flowers. I will grow them for the first time this year. Hope they become beautiful as yours.

  4. Hi, have you grown these in pots? Would you recommend that same spacing as typical sunflowers? 1 per 8 inch pot, 2-3 per 12+ inch pots?

  5. I was looking for info on these sunflowers and I too ran into many cupcakes before I found this post 😂

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