Whether you’re looking for the perfect photo backdrop or you want to pick flowers, sunflower fields are popular in the late summer. It’s not uncommon to find wild sunflowers growing in Nebraska, but if you want a precise destination, keep reading to see where to find the best sunflower fields within an easy drive from Omaha.
When do sunflowers bloom in Nebraska and Iowa?
In the Midwest, sunflowers start to bloom in mid-July. Some farms grow sunflowers in waves so there are second blooms often starting in mid-August. Sunflower season is short, and they tend to be all gone (either picked or dead) by the second or third weeks of September.
It all totally depends on the weather, though. Some farms will have sunflowers in early July. Others won’t have them until the end of August. It’s best to follow your favorite locations on social media, where they typically announce when the flowers have started to bloom.
I've been to Nelson Produce Farm with the kids to pick strawberries, but most people associate the farm with its sunflower field. It's THE sunflower field you see in most Instagram pictures around the end of summer each year. They expect more than 100,000 sunflowers to bloom. The farm also offers U-Pick sunflowers. Festival passes are $20 at the gate (save $5 by purchasing online).
In 2023, there are several events around sunflower season.
Vala's is THE fall destination for families, but it's a good idea to go ot this pumpkin patch early in its season because of the sunflowers and widlflower fields. Take pictures or pick flowers to take home. Vala's usually has several festivals in the fall, and usually one of them is a Sunflower Festival.
In 2023, Vala's celebrates the Cider and Sunflower Festival on the weekends from Sept. 2-17.
Ditmar's is one of Iowa's largest apple orchards, but it still manages to maintain a small-town feel to it. Their sunflower patch typically blooms in early- to in mid-July. The orchard offers U-pick either by-the-stem or by-the-cup (like a bouquet).
Where: 5 miles south of Red Cloud, Neb., on Highway 281
If it's wildflowers you're looking for, head to the untouched splendor of the prairie. Here, the 612 acres of native prairie have never been plowed! If you miss the peak sunflower bloom, there will be other wildflowers to see - wildflower season is April through October.
You can visit the prairie year-round on your own, though there is the option to pre-arrange a guided tour.
Other late-summer and fall experiences
Sunflower season is pretty short in Nebraska. Luckily, there are plenty of other fun things to do in the late summer through fall. Here are some favorites:
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