Flower of the Month - The Sunflower

 

“We’re all golden sunflowers inside”
- Allen Ginsberg

 

Sunflower

 

The sunflower have long held the top spot as the most commonly grown cut flower worldwide, and it's no wonder - they are ridiculously easy to grow and they thrive during ht hottest days of summer and early autumn. And on top of that they require very little attention to thrive. In this post we'll walk you through what to think about when growing your own sunflowers as well as some history and fun facts. 

The sunflower has been with us since 3000 BCE and were cultivated in North America. They were originally developed for food, medicine, dye and oil. It wasn't until around 1500 that the sunflower were exported to the rest of the world by Spanish conquistadors.

Fun facts

  • Sunflowers display a behaviour called heliotropism, which means they track the sun. The young blossoms will face east in the morning and follow the sun as the earth moves during the day.

  • Giant sunflowers reach the height of up to 12 feet or more. The worlds tallest sunflower reaches 30 feet and 1 inch.

  • In 2012, the astronaut Don Pettit brought along some sunflower seeds up to space and planted them at the International Space Station.

  • Each sunflower can contain as many as 1000 to 2000 seeds.

  • There are about 70 species of sunflowers.

  • Sunflowers are good at absorbing toxins and they have been planted in Fukushima, Japan, to soak up nuclear radiation after the devastating tsunami

 

 

sunflower

sunflower in a field

Gardening tips..

There are two different types of sunflowers, branching and non-branching. Branching types get quite large and produce a lot of blooms over a long period of time. They need a lot of room, and should be spaced about 18 to 24 inches apart. 

Non-branching types (also called single stem) produce one flower per seed and are the types that most florists will keep in stock. For smaller, bouquet sized blooms, space plants 4 to 6 inches apart. 

Sunflowers needs a lot of sun. The ideal location provides 6-8 hours of sun a day in a sheltered location so there's low risk of wind or storm damage. The soil should be rich and well trained and free from rocks or other large roots. Any obstacles in the soil will inhibit root and plant growth. 

Harvest as soon as the first petals on a sunflower blooms stat to unfurl, and strip the bottom three-fourths of the leaves from the stem for the longest vase life. No flower preservatives is needed. 

 

 

Also read: Flower of the Month - The Dahlia