Black Oil sunflower

If you’re interested in black oil sunflowers, you’re not alone! There is so much to learn and enjoy about these flowers. They have many purposes such as nourishing the soil and providing nutrient-rich food for song birds.

Black Oil sunflowers are an heirloom cultivar known for their high-quality seeds that are used for oil and bird feed. These plants bloom during the summer months and stay for three weeks. For planting, choose a sunny spot, give the plant one inch of water per week, and keep weeds down. Black Oil sunflowers are easy to grow and perfect for pollinator and wildlife gardens.

Black oil sunflowers are popular worldwide. This is because they are so easy to grow, and they can withstand nearly any growing condition. These durable sunflowers impress many with their height and large size. Keep reading below to discover everything you could want to know about black oil sunflowers.

Black oil sunflowers
Black oil sunflowers

Black Oil sunflower basics

The Black Oil sunflower is one of the most popular sunflower varieties in the world. Black Oil sunflowers are grown by home gardeners to attract birds and simply as an attractive and easy-to-grow flower for your yard. Commercially, they are grown to produce sunflower oil. This is an heirloom cultivar that has been used to breed many modern sunflower oil production cultivars of sunflower plants.

Black Oil sunflowers look just like any other classic sunflower. They have bright yellow petals that surround a brown center. The difference in color is their seed. Most sunflower seeds are brown/grey (and sometimes striped). However, a Black Oil sunflower seed is coal black. There is a striking color contrast between the petals and black oil seeds in the mature flowers.

Black Oil sunflowers produce one flower, meaning they are not branching. They only produce one beautiful flower per stalk. The flower itself is usually about twelve inches across.

Black oil sunflower seeds
Black oil sunflower seeds

One of the largest reasons black oil sunflowers are well known is because of their seeds. A black oil sunflower seed has a large amount of oil in them, especially compared to other sunflower seeds. They have a high concentration of oil and also provide ample amounts of protein.

While a black oil sunflower seed is edible, you will want to wash them first. These seeds are not commonly used for human consumption, so they are not typically packaged in a way that is safe for people to eat.

Black oil sunflower seeds - bird seed for feeding song birds

Reasons to grow Black Oil sunflowers

Black Oil sunflowers are often planted like florist sunflowers in the landscape, particularly if the flowers are to be left on the stalk to enjoy them rather than cutting them and bringing them indoors for bouquets.

The second reason to grow Black Oil Sunflowers is for their seeds. These seeds are commonly used to feed wild birds and to feed backyard chickens, as they provide lots of valuable nutrients. They can improve the health of songbirds and your poultry as they are high in protein and have been shown to increase weight.

Black Oil Sunflower plants are often planted to purify the soil. These sunflowers dig their roots deep into the ground. They are able to pull nutrients and soil contaminants toward the surface, creating a better-growing environment for everything around them.

Black oil sunflower seeds for birds at garden center
Black oil sunflowers - sunflower oil
Planting black oil sunflower
Planting black oil sunflower

How to plant Black Oil sunflowers?

Here are the basics of planting Black Oil Sunflowers.

Soil preferences

Sunflowers aren’t particularly picky about their soil. If you have nice, well-draining loamy soil – that’s great – but you can also try to plant seeds in nutrient-poor soil, and they just might grow anyway!

Watering sunflowers

Black Oil Sunflowers do not need a lot of water from their gardeners. In fact, they only need one inch of water per week. If you live in a rainy area, then you will likely not have to water them at all and can just let nature take care of it. However, if you live in an area that is particularly hot, then more water may be required. While they are drought-tolerant, they do grow best when they aren’t limited by lack of water.


Black Oil Sunflowers need full sun. They need at least six hours a day in direct sunlight to reach their full potential. If you live in an area that does not have enough light, then artificial lights may be necessary. These lights will replicate the sun as closely as possible, but direct sunlight is still the ideal option.

Black Oil Sunflowers need a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day. They do better if they receive more than this though, as this will help them to be the best that they can be. It’s right in the name; these blooms love the sun!

Questions about growing Black Oil sunflowers

How fast does the sunflower grow?

Black oil sunflowers need over three months to reach full maturity. It is not until after over one hundred days that they are fully grown. After about 110 days, you can assume that they are not going to grow any larger.

Does it bloom more than once?

Black oil sunflowers do not bloom more than once. They can bloom one time during late summer or early fall. They commonly bloom during the summer months, however, and then last for another three weeks.

Once they bloom, relish in the moment. These sunflowers are stunning to look at and nothing else will compare.

Do they come back every year?

Black oil sunflowers do not come back every year. In order to get black oil sunflowers every year, you will have to replant them.

Black oil sunflower
Black oil sunflower
Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a passionate gardener and well-acclaimed authority in the world of horticulture. As a certified Master Gardener and Permaculture Garden Designer with over a decade of hands-on experience, she has honed her skills to cultivate a deeper understanding of the natural world around us. Beyond her gardening prowess, Mary Jane holds a distinct edge as a Professional Engineer, an expertise that often intertwines with her gardening methodologies, bringing a unique perspective to her readers.

She is the proud founder of the renowned gardening website, Home for the Harvest, a platform dedicated to helping fellow gardeners, both novice and experienced, find their green thumbs. Her gardening expertise hasn't gone unnoticed; she's been spotlighted as a go-to gardening expert by notable publications like Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, Real Simple, and the National Garden Bureau.

Delving deep into specific fields of study within horticulture, Mary Jane has an extensive knowledge base on sustainable gardening practices (including permaculture), soil science, and selecting cultivars well-suited to home gardeners. Her passion isn't just limited to plants; she's a staunch advocate for holistic, eco-friendly gardening techniques that benefit both flora and fauna.

Currently residing in the picturesque Okanagan Valley, Mary Jane cherishes the time she spends with her family amidst nature, always exploring, learning, and growing both as a gardener and as an individual.

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