Sunflowers Are Blooming Earlier Than Ever—Here's Where You Can See Them in Their Full Glory
It might be the only benefit of an unseasonably hot summer for most: Sunflowers across the country have started to peak much earlier than they usually do. It's a boon for those who love spending time outdoors, as these photogenic flowers blanket the fields in bright, sunny color; although warm temperatures have led to regional peaks, it doesn't mean that you can't enjoy these annuals in September and early October, too. Meteorologists are currently forecasting a warmer-than-usual fall for those living on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Mark Carroll, a biologist at South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources, says that early sunflower blooms in July and August won't drastically affect most fields come fall. Sunflowers are better suited for warm weather, he tells CNN, but their bloom times can vary. At one of his sites in South Carolina, sunflowers were planted in May and began blooming in the first week of July, but most of the sunflower fields across the country are predicting peak blooms throughout the month of August and into early September.
Home gardeners and smaller heritage farmers may plant sunflowers for sentimental reasons, but most commercial farmers and conservationists are actually using sunflowers to attract local wildlife; in some cases, the flowers may provide a stage for bird hunters come September. "That's when they're starting to dry out and drop seeds for wildlife to eat," Carroll tells CNN. "The seeds attract mourning doves just in time for the public hunting season." Most of the time, though, sunflower fields are just fodder for enthusiasts who love to gather fresh florals for their interiors. At the Green Door Gourmet Farm just outside Nashville, Tennessee, a 20-acre field of sunflowers busted earlier than ever due to the warmth, and according to CNN, attracted tourists hoping to see the natural wonder for themselves.
The best part of visiting local farms is that you're often allowed to pick fresh sunflower stems to take home with you, meaning you have the change to create stunning floral arrangements and centerpieces all season long. The following farms are open to the public now through early October, when the last of the sunflowers for this year are expected to bust—catch these iconic blooms before it's too late.
You'll get to see more than just your standard sunflower at Kruger's Farm; there are 20 robust rows of flowers that are currently in full bloom, including special varieties that you may not have seen anywhere else. A fan favorite is the fluffy-petaled "Teddy Bear" sunflower, which features enough petals so that each stem seems to be fully overgrown.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the sunflower fields at Wild Berry Farm, where locals have successfully cultivated a sunflower variety known as the "Peredovik." These behemoths can reach six feet tall, making it easy to get lost in a hue of sunshine yellow with family and friends—you can also look forward to a self-serve farm where you can pick tomatoes right off the vine, too.
Running through a field of sky-high blooms is just the first thing you'll do at Leatherberry Acres in this small town, about 120 miles west of Milwaukee. While this impressive sunflower field is a prime attraction on a sunny weekend for those living in the Midwest, this spot is also a full-fledged farm with live animals, meaning the little ones can play with miniature goats at the farm's petting zoo.