Every spring, Raleigh Water sprinkles sunflower seeds over a five-acre field in Dix Park. This year’s 198,000 seeds (25 lbs of Clearfield Sunflower Seeds) planted in mid-May have grown up to five feet (so far) and have reached full bloom this week.
The Sunflower Field is a massive pollinator habitat for bees and other species + a picture-perfect backdrop for family photos and Instagram influencers alike. Here’s what you need to know before you visit.
Plan your visit
The Sunflower Field is located off of Hunt Drive in Dix Park. We recommend parking in the gravel lot next to the field (put 75 Hunt Dr. into your GPS and follow the park’s sunflower signs).
Adjacent to the sunny yellow flowers is a patch of 15+ hammocks and plenty of picnic tables — the perfect place for lunch or to catch up on summer reading. Also, snap a picture on the giant grass couch nearby.
There will be a variety of food trucks to choose from on Fri., July 22 (5-9 p.m.), Sat., July 23 (11 a.m.-3 p.m. + 5-9 p.m.), and Sun., July 24 (11 a.m.-3 p.m.). See the lineup here.
Timing is everything
Peak bloom is happening now and will last for ~two weeks. Don’t wait to check this Raleigh tradition off of your summer bucket list. The field is free to visit seven days a week from dawn until dusk.
- Wear closed-toe shoes — you’ll be walking up and down uneven ground to see the blooms up close.
- The fields are muddy after it rains.
- Don’t forget sunscreen + bug spray.
- Stay on the paths and do not pick the flowers.
- Bring your pets, but keep them on a leash.
- Arrive early to avoid crowds.
A brief history of the blooms
This well-loved seasonal tradition began in 2010 when the City of Raleigh’s public utilities department planted sunflowers along the Neuse River Greenway Trail.
In 2018, the city decided to plant sunflowers in Dix Park to make the blooms more accessible to Raleighites. Kate Pearce, the park’s project manager, envisioned the field to be like a “secret garden,” Dix Park’s Lauren Danforth told RALtoday. “The location that was chosen was ideal because it sat atop a rarely trafficked hill surrounded by vegetation.”
Where do the sunflowers go?
When peak bloom is over, Raleigh Water harvests the sunflowers to process biodiesel to be used in farm equipment at Neuse River Resource Recovery Facility + for educational programs and demonstrations.
Biodiesel is a type of renewable energy source called “biofuel,” in which biomass (the high-oil sunflower crops) are converted directly into liquid fuels. These fuels can be used as petroleum substitutes in machines like vehicles and smaller engines.