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Sunflowers

Most sunflowers are native to North America (a few are native to South America). They belong to the genus Helianthus. There are many different species; the common garden variety goes by the botanical name Helianthus annuus.  Jerusalem artichokes also belong to the genus Helianthus; they are often cultivated for their edible tubers. And of course lots of folks grow sunflowers for their edible seeds--enjoyed by humans, birds, and small mammals alike!

Sunflowers don't need much care to grow like crazy. They're really, really easy to grow.  They just need full sun, soil and moisture to perform. As long as the soil supports the growth of grass or other plants, sunflowers will do fine. There are many different sizes and colors of sunflowers available, so plant spacing depends on the height of the plants at maturity. Specific planting instructions are on the seed packets.  Most sunflowers are grown as annuals; there are also some perennial varieties.  They do tend to face the direction of the dominating sun exposure. So East or West is usually how you see them and they seem to prefer East unless the exposure is blocked.  

There is a growth inhibiting chemical in sunflower seed hulls, but this simply stops other seeds from sprouting too close to them. The chemical washes off in rainwater and isn't strong enough to affect plants growing several inches away. You can plant sunflowers within a foot of other plants. The spacing isn't to provide a buffer zone between plants because of growth inhibiting chemicals, but to give the sunflower ample room to grow and fully develop its large seed head.

Six kinds of bugs can infest sunflowers: four-lined plant bugs, harlequin bugs, stink bugs, tarnished plant bugs, corn earworm and the larvae of the painted lady butterfly. There's also a sunflower maggot and a cucumber beetle that are occasional pests.

 


Torch Mexican Sunflower

The Mexican Sunflower Torch, 'Tithonia rotundifolia', is unabashedly brilliant orange and as hot and fiery as the August sunshine. The Torch is a genuine heat lover and sets the dog days of summer ablaze with sizzling orange daisies .The fiery orange daisy flowers have golden centers and are 3 inches wide. Plant in the spring after the last average frost date. The Torch Mexican Sunflower make excellent cut flowers and are great summer and fall screens or borders.


Autumn Beauty Sunflower

The Sunflower Autumn Beauty, 'Helianthus annuus, is a multi-branched plant that produces many beautiful 5 to 8 inch flowers in a wide range of "autumnal" colors. It also makes a great cut flower. Autumn Beautys bloom over an extended period of time. This is a sunflower that will turn heads. After the initial spring planting, plant another crop in month. This will ensure a continual supply of flowers until late fall. They are drought tolerant, but they will take considerable moisture for full flowering.


False- Summer Sun Sunflower

The Sunflower False, Summer Sun, 'Heliopsis helianthoides', is a perennial sunflower that blooms all summer. It is easy an easy to grow addition to any perennial bed. The Summer Sun also makes a nice cut flower. The flowers are 3 to 4 inches across and are yellow daisy-like with yellow centers. It is an excellent summer and fall screen or border. Keep the plants attractive by removing spent flowers. The Summer Sun would be an excellent addition to a wildflower patch or naturalized area receiving little or no care.


Mammoth Grey Stripe Sunflower

The Sunflower Mammoth Grey Stripe, 'Helianthus annuus', displays flowers that are 1 foot across. Enjoy their cheery faces following the sun and providing birds with fall fare. Mammoth Grey Stripes have a number of features to interest anyone. Edible seeds attract many birds during fall, if you do not eat them yourself. Because of its ease to germinate and very fast rate of growth, it is a great seed for kids to plant and watch grow. It is an excellent summer and fall annual screen or border.


Moulin Rouge Sunflower

The Moulin Rouge sunflower, 'Helianthus annuus (Hybrid)', is a rich velvety, deep red sunflower. The Moulin Rouge will steal the show in your gardens and bouquets. It is pollenless and is excellent for cutting. It will produce 4 to 6 inch deep red flowers that will produce summer into fall.A second planting 2 weeks after the initial planting and a third planting 2 weeks later will produce attractive foliage and flowers until the first fall frost. It is an excellent cut flower and can be used for a short border.


Teddy Bear Sunflower

The Teddy Bear sunflower, 'Helianthus annuus', is a dwarf sunflower plant with many 4 to 6 inch double yellow-gold flowers that look like huge mums. Teddy Bear sunflowers are annual that blooms mid-summer to fall. It will grow in almost any soil and is drought tolerant but, for larger and profuse flowering, good moisture is required. A second planting 2 weeks after the initial planting and a third planting 2 weeks later will produce attractive foliage and flowers until the first fall frost. Place this plant in full sun for best results.


Vanilla Ice Sunflower

The Vanilla Ice sunflower, 'Helianthus debilis', produces florist quality cut flowers and is an excellent border plant. The off-white flowers are between 5 and 8 inches wide. The plant is multi-flowered. Vanilla Ice sunflowers are drought tolerant but will take considerable moisture for full flowering. This plant will grow on almost any soil.

 


 

 

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