The flowers are cheerful, make for great family photos and it’s nice to get outside. Sunflowers have long been the inspiration of artists, but they also serve as an important source of nutrition for wildlife. The mourning dove and the goldfinch are just two species that enjoy feasting on the seeds created after the colorful golden blooms have faded. Most fields of sunflowers hit peak bloom from mid-July until mid-August. Some fields are planted at different times which allows for an extended blooming field.
Sunflowers in Maryland
Birds are not the only wild creatures who seek out sunflowers as a food source. The stalks and leaves are tasty food for white-tailed deer; so much so that DuPont Corporation’s Chesapeake Farms, located near Chestertown, Md, has put up a single strand electric fence to limit deer from accessing the area where they plant sunflowers in early May.
Native Americans cultivated sunflowers and raised them as a food crop. They were as important as corn and squash. The plants had multiple uses. The seeds were ground into flour, pressed for oil, and eaten as a snack. The flowers were used for brewing tea, herbal medicines, and for creating dye for body painting. The dried stalks were used as a building material.
The total area planted across the U.S. in sunflower in 2020 totaled 1.54 million acres, according to the USDA, an increase of 14 percent from 2019. While a significant portion of the harvested seeds are processed for bird seed and snacks, the majority are processed into sunflower oil.
Perennial sunflowers bloom from August into October while annual sunflowers start blooming in July. A sign of summer sunshine, sunflowers do look handsome in fresh flower arrangements. They can also be hung upside down for drying. Simply tie together with twine the plants you wish to dry. Hang them upside down in a cool dark place and wait two to four weeks.
Where to find sunflowers
Here are places where you can enjoy fields of sunflowers. Check ahead for peak bloom.
McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area – Poolesville
16898-16500 River Rd, Poolesville, MD 20837
This is state owned and managed property. The peak of the bloom is mid-July. There is no fee and picking or removing sunflowers is prohibited. McKee-Beshers WMA has no bathroom facilities, no benches and no picnic tables. The dirt paths may be bumpy and or muddy. Be prepared for ticks and plan accordingly.
Admission: no fees
Maple Lawn Farms & Winery Sunflower Festival – New Park, PA
2885 New Park Rd, New Park, PA 17352
Maple Lawn Farms has over 175,000 sunflowers on eight acres, making it a great location to get that perfect picture. They host a Sunflower Festival every year, with each ticket including a wagon ride to the fields.
Admission: $12 for children ages 3-10. $25 for adults. Purchase your tickets in advance online for a discount.
Gold Petal Farm Sunflower Maze & Pick your Own Flower Gardens
37260 Manor Road, Chaptico, MD
Featuring a maze and pick-your-own flowers, this spot is great to enjoy a day of fun with the family. Bring a picnic and explore the maze. Well- behaved dogs are permitted on leashed.
Admission: paid onsite, no reservations needed. $15 per person. Age 6 and under are free
Pick your own flowers: Sunflowers $1/stem. Zinnias $.50/stem
11511 Piedmont Road, Clarksburg, Maryland 20871
Located in Montgomery County, this farm has 12 acres of beautiful sunflower fields. They also have large swings tucked into the fields to help you create a pretty snapshot. You can also grab some fresh cut flowers from their farm market to complete your visit. Friendly dogs are welcome on leash.
Admission: Weekday: $5 for children 3 and over; $15 for adults. Weekend (Friday-Sunday): $5 for children 3 and over; $20 for adults
Sunflowers of Lisbon
15845 Frederick Road, Woodbine, Maryland 21797
Located at 2 places (Lisbon & Maple Lawn), Sunflowers of Lisbon aims to give you the perfect backdrop for you special photos. Check their site to see which location is in bloom currently. Pets are allowed as long as they are on a leash.
Admission: FREE for children 4 & under, $15 per person 5 & older.
Valley View Acres
4005 Valley View Road, Middletown, MD 21769
Valley View Acres’ Annual Sunflower Festival runs from mid-July to mid-August on the weekends. It not only features some beautiful blooms, but also great local vendors with a little bit of everything. No pets are permitted.
Admission: $5 per person, children 5 & under are free
Clarksville Sunflower Market at Mary’s Land Farm
4979 Sheppard Lane Ellicott City, MD 21042
This 6 acre sunflower field has over a dozen varieties ranging in size, making it a perfect place to snap a pic or pick your own. Every weekend features artisans, food trucks and live music. Also check out their Farm Store for fresh goodies.
Admission: Weekday: $11 for children 3-10 years old; $13 for adults. Weekend: $13 for children 3-10 years old; $26-61 for adults depending on the type of pass.
1720 North Crain Hwy, Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
With 4 acres of over 20 different varieties of sunflowers, you are sure to find some wonderful blooms. Check out the Farm Market while you’re there and enjoy some tasty food. Leashed and friendly dogs are welcomed.
Admission: $12 for children 2-10 years old, $15 for adults
5501 Detrick Rd Mt. Airy, MD 21771
Grab a cool pick among these awesome flowers with some pretty cool photo props. Blooming in September, this place is great for those flower seekers who might have missed at other spots. They also offer pick your own flowers while blooms last. Pets are not permitted.
Admission: No tickets required for pick your own sunflowers, however, they do have their Fall Fest going on at the same time which does require tickets.
302 Leager Road, Sudlersville, Maryland 21668
The picturesque sunflower fields of Godfreys Farm make any photo Instagram worthy. This pick your own farm also has a variety of other beautiful flowers as well as tasty fruit to enjoy. Make a stop by their Farm Market fresh fruit and vegetables as well as baked pies and ice cream.
Admission: Must purchase one bucket per group to enter the fields.