Garden clippings for May 18, 2019

No flower is as fun and easy to grow as the Sunflower.  Kids love Sunflowers because they sprout so quickly after seeding, then grow a mile a minute to become larger than life plants with monster flowers that birds just love.

Sunflowers grow best where there is plenty heat and sunshine.  They don’t have fussy soil or water requirements.  They would rather be planted in a high and dry spot rather than a low and wet spot.

For a head start, Sunflowers can be started indoors in individual containers, but it is just as easy to sow them directly into the soil.  Sunflowers are not frost tolerant, so it is best to sow seeds anytime after Victoria Day weekend.

Prepare the garden or seed bed by working up the soil to remove the clumps and clean up the weeds.  Use your finger to cut a shallow furrow about two inches deep.  Space seeds about 6 inches apart and cover with soil.  Water well and add water periodically if we don’t get water from above.

Seeds will sprout in 7 to 10 days.  Once the seedlings have 2 or three sets of leaves, dig them up and space them about 18 to 24 inches apart.  Water after transplanting.

In about three months Sunflowers will reach maturity.  For a steady supply of fresh blooms, consider planting new seeds every 2 weeks until the middle of July.

Once growing, Sunflowers have the ability to take care of themselves.  They don’t require fertilizer and will want water only if we experience extended dry spells.  Sunflowers have a unique built-in feature where they release a substance that repels the growth of certain adjacent plants, quite possibly eliminating the need to keep them weed free.

Those of us familiar with Sunflowers know they will grow to become almost tree like, reaching heights greater than you and me.  As flowers mature they often flop downward because of their own weight and size.  Most gardeners don’t know that there are many varieties of sunflowers, ranging in height from 2 feet to 12 feet.

The most common Sunflower is ‘Mammoth Russian’ reaching 10 feet high with bright yellow flowers that can be over a foot in diameter.  For a taller variety look for ‘Kong’ which can reach 15 feet.

‘Lemon Sorbet’ has soft yellow blooms with black centres.  Its long-lasting flowers make superb cut flowers.  ‘Velvet Queen’ growing to 4 feet high has crimson coloured blooms.  ‘’Indian Blanket’ produces multi coloured blooms in a mix of red, yellow, and peach.

Dwarf varieties resembling Daisies, produce multiple flowers ranging from pale yellow to bright red.  ‘Moonshadow’ will reach 4 feet, producing light yellow blooms that seem to pop forward at dusk.  ‘Suntastic’ and ‘Sunspot’ producing cheerful yellow Daisy-like blooms, are short enough to grow in containers.    For the cut flower garden try ‘Ruby Eclipse’ or ‘Cheery Rose.’