Bedding plants

Hussar buttons: tips for cultivating the mini sunflower


The hussar button is one of the most popular summer flowers in the garden. Those who avoid care mistakes will have a lot of fun with the miniature sunflower.

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The hussar button or the hussar button (Sanvitalia procumbens) is one of the daisy family. The plants create extensive carpets of flowers in the bed and impress with colorful yellow flower heads.

The mini sunflowers require little maintenance and are among the most popular summer flowers in beds, boxes and tubs. In the following we present the plants in more detail and give tips and advice for successful care and planting.

Special features of the hussar button

The plant got its name because the small yellow flower heads are similar to the buttons of the hussar uniform. The species name “procumbens” in turn indicates the “downward” growth of the decorative summer plant. The botanical name “Sanvitalia” is reminiscent of an Italian botanist of the same name who lived in the 18th century.

The plant has been known in Europe since the late 17th century. At that time, research travelers brought the hussar button from our ancestral home of Guatemala and Mexico to our room.

The plants are popularly referred to as dwarf sunflowers. In their natural environment, hussar buttons occur up to an altitude of 1,300 meters and are considered weeds because they spread widely, much to the farmers' dismay.

Find the right location

To experience the full bloom of the hussar button, choose a sunny and warm location. Although the plants also thrive in partial shade, they will produce significantly fewer flowers and will probably also generally remain in growth.

The hussar button can be cultivated in the bed as well as in flower boxes or can be kept as a traffic light plant. The plants prove to be insensitive to wind and rain.

Tip: The hussar button is particularly attractive in hanging baskets due to its slightly overhanging growth.

Choose the ideal substrate

A loose and well-drained soil forms the ideal basis for growth. Heavy clay soils are less suitable for cultivating the hussar button.

Tip: Heavy soils can be made more permeable by adding sand or gravel.

The biggest enemy of the hussar button is waterlogging. This can be counteracted if a drain is placed in the bottom of the vessel. When planting in tubs and boxes, ensure that there are sufficient holes in the planter so that excess water can drain off easily.

Planting hussar buttons - step by step

1. Select location
2. Prepare the soil
3. Dig out the planting hole
Observe planting distance 5. Insert the plant
6. Fill up the substrate
7. Press the floor
8. Water the plant

Annual plants are allowed to go outdoors in mid-May. The risk of night frosts should be averted. So I offer to wait until after the ice saints to plant them.

A planting distance of 10 to 15 centimeters must be observed. The young plants are potted and placed in the prepared planting hole. The substrate can be given gravel, sand, compost or horn shavings in advance to loosen the soil and improve the nutrient content.

Group planting of the hussar button is ideal. The yellow flower carpets stand out particularly well in rock gardens and natural beds.

The hussar button can also serve as an underplant for shrubs and standard trees. Popular bed neighbors are student flowers, verbena, bluebells or daisies.

Planting in the flower box

If the hussar buttons in the flower box are to appear favorably, planting on the front or on the edges of the vessel is recommended. Some species are slightly overhanging and are ideal for planting traffic lights.

When planting in boxes and tubs, some things should be considered.

Choose a planterThe planter must offer enough space and be able to hold the root ball well. Sufficient drainage holes in the floor prevent waterlogging.
Fill in the substrateThe space in the box or bucket is limited. So that the plants can supply themselves with nutrients, the soil must be upgraded accordingly.
Watering and fertilizingContainer plants need to be watered regularly. The substrate dries out much faster than outdoors. Regular fertilization ensures abundance of flowers.

Water the hussar buttons properly

When pouring the hussar button, a little bit of sensitivity is required. The plant is only watered when the soil has dried slightly. However, the substrate must not dry out completely.

Waterlogging must be avoided in any case. If the plant is too wet, the roots rot and the hussar button dies.

Tip: When cultivating in the rock garden, planting close to stones is an advantage. The stones prevent evaporation of the water and keep the soil evenly moist.

Properly fertilize hussar buttons

The hussar button can be supplied with a conventional liquid fertilizer during the flowering period. A cap of the fertilizer is added to the irrigation water every two weeks.

If a nutritious garden soil is used, which has been mixed with compost, there is no need to fertilize in the first weeks after planting.

Does the hussar button need to be cut?

Cutting measures are not necessary, but under certain conditions they are beneficial for growth and flowering. If the plant grows sparsely and hardly flowers, pruning is advisable.

Cut back the hussar button up to two thirds. This promotes new shoots and flower formation. Shoots that are too long can be shortened at any time. Cutting off withered flowers promotes post-flowering.

Popular varieties of hussar button

The variety of varieties allows species-appropriate planting. For example, if you prefer a particularly flat growing and early flowering variety, you are well advised to use the “gold carpet”.

“Gold Braid” offers a particularly colorful appearance. The orange-flowering varieties "Mandarin" and "Irish Eyes" represent a nice contrast. A rarity among the hussar buttons is "Plens" with its semi-double flower heads.

Overview of selected varieties

gold carpetcompact yellow flowers
Gold braidyellow flowers with a brown-black center
Emilydark yellow flowers
Million sunsmedium yellow flowers
Sunbiniiwarm yellow flowers
Mandarin orangeorange flowers
Irish eyesdark yellow to orange flowers
Sanvitos Sweet Pennydark yellow flowers
Solaris, Sunvy Trailingmedium yellow flowers
Cuzo idealmedium yellow flowers

Increase hussar buttons

The hussar button is available in spring as a fully grown plant in any garden center. Alternatively, growing from seeds is possible. You can get the seeds from the faded plants of the previous year and store them cool and dry over the winter. Packaged seeds are also commercially available.

Tip: One gram of seed contains up to 1,500 seeds.

Sowing step by step

1. Put seeds in plant pots
2. Only lightly cover the seeds with soil
3. Set up plant pots in a bright and warm place
4. Keep seeds evenly moist
5. Wait for germination
6. Prick out young plants
7. Plant young plants from mid-May

Cultivation of the plants can begin in mid-March. You put two to three seeds in a small growing pot, mix them with sand so that they are better distributed and cover the seeds only slightly with soil.

The necessary germ temperature is 18 degrees so that you can set up the plant pots at normal room temperature. After about two weeks, a slightly cooler location can be chosen. A bright stand is necessary in any case so that the seedlings develop well.

If the young plants have grown sufficiently, they are pricked out. After the ice saints, the hussar buttons can be planted out.

Detect diseases and pests on the hussar button

The hussar button is a very hardy plant. Diseases and pests are rare. Even snails spurn the lush summer bloomer.

However, maintenance mistakes can do some damage. So waterlogging leads to root rot and the plants can then usually not be saved. Too wet a stand can also be the cause of botrytis infestation. This fungus is the cause of the formation of gray mold.

Gray mold can be recognized by a gray, dusty surface. The leaves, stems and flowers become soft and the plant rots.

Tip: Simply water the plants from below so that no water can reach the flowers and leaves.

All affected parts of the plant must be removed immediately. Gray mold can be prevented by adding field horsetail broth.

Hibernate buttons overwinter

Because they are annual plants, wintering will not be possible. The mother plant dies in autumn. Since the plants sow themselves, seeds can overwinter in the bed and sprout in spring. However, this requires mild winters.