The sunflowers at Dix Park in Raleigh are starting to bloom, but not like last year

A few sunflowers are blooming at Dix Park, but not as many as the city of Raleigh had hoped.

The five acres of sunflowers were planted later this year in hopes they would begin to bloom at the start of July and last for about two weeks — just in time for Saturday’s Destination SunFest.

Instead, the dry weather has delayed the flowers from blooming. Some have started to bloom with more expected to pop later this week and into next week. With the staggered blooms, people may get to enjoy the flowers for longer but the entire field won’t likely bloom at the same time, said Lauren Weldishofer, marketing and communications manager for the park.

City staff members are hoping for more rain this week and using sprinklers to encourage the flowers to open up.

Located near the soccer fields at Hunt Drive, the sunflowers debuted at Dix Park last year and brought about 65,000 people to the park, she said.

“We really wanted to add something special for the community and invite the community to the park and explore this space,” Weldishofer said. “On the sunflower side, we wanted to plant somewhere where people can get up close and personal with the sunflowers.”

Unlike last year, there are three types of sunflowers this year:

  • tall manna sunflowers that can be 8 to 10 feet high
  • common sunflowers, the same ones from last year
  • Autumn Beauty sunflowers, which have a reddish hint in their petals.

The sunflowers were a longtime staple on the Neuse River Greenway Trail, near Mile Marker 23, before moving to Dix Park last year.

Dix Park_Event Parking Map_Sunflower Field.jpg
A map of where to park at the Dix Park sunflower field.

How to get there

The sunflower fields are open to the public seven days a week. Park at the soccer fields, off Hunt Drive. Parking is prohibited at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services campus during work hours.

The park is also accessible by foot, scooter, bike and public transportation.

Don’t pick the flowers, bring alcohol, smoke or fly a drone over the sunflowers. Drones and other aerial devices are allowed on the Big Field.

Destination SunFest

This free event is from 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday and will include a Ferris wheel, carousel, food, drinks, live entertainment, crafts and art for people of all ages. The event will also celebrate the recent passage of the park’s master plan.

No cars will be allowed to park at the festival during the festival, but free parking will be available on the N.C. State Centennial Campus. A free shuttle will run between the parking lots and the park.

Find more information at dixpark.org/destination-sunfest

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Anna Johnson covers Raleigh and Wake County for the News & Observer. She has previously covered city government, crime and business for newspapers across North Carolina and received many North Carolina Press Association awards, including first place for investigative reporting. She is a 2012 alumna of Elon University.
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