Wednesday, August 25, 2010


PERENNIAL SUNFLOWERS are less known than the popular annual sunflowers.  But they are sturdy, easy-to-grow plants with daisy-like showy blooms in yellows, golds, and even browns and maroon.  They're members of the aster family, their heads consisting of ray florets (petals), that surround a dense, rounded center that produces the seeds.  Their leaves are large and coarse.  They, of course, are plants for full sun.  They are great to work with in flower arrangements and can also be dried. When you pick them, do so right as the ray florets are beginning to unfurl.  When you dry them, hang them upside-down in a dark, warm place.  One thing that's especially neat about sunflowers is that they attract beneficial insects to your gardens and their seeds provide winter food for a variety of songbirds.  They need just average soil, that is well drained, and all are drought tolerant because of their deep tap roots, once they are established.  Some tolerate light shade, and there are even some varieties that do well if they receive shade for part of the day.  (You'll need to stake them if they are in the shade).  They are easy to start from seed, but cultivars are best as purchased plants.  Plant in spring or fall, and a planting with some wind protection is best, or plan to stake them.  Give them plenty of room--2 or more feet between plants, because they'll get tall and they are very vigorous!  They need  only minimal care, and you can pinch them in summer or midsummer to encourage dense growth and it helps to make them not so tall.  And, as with most perennials, if you deadhead regularly, it will extend their flowering season.  Cut them to the ground in fall after the flowers fade, or, if you prefer, wait until spring to leave the seed heads for the birds.  Regular division keep them looking their best and prevents them from taking over your garden, because they can if you let them.  Dig them in early spring to do this.  Because they are so big, they really are for big gardens.  They look good with other summer-to-fall blooming perennials--especially monkshood, and asters.  They are ideal for meadow and wild-like areas.  I no longer have room for sunflowers with my limited space, but about 5-6 years ago, I did, and these arrangements show some of the wonderful varieties there are.  A well groomed sunflower bed is an awesome site, and I always look for those gardens in my area to enjoy!
Susanne Holland Spicker Mother, Grandmother, Homemaker, Gardener, Teacher, Photographer

Passion is defined as the love of, or the object(s) of affection and emotion. I am passionate about family, friends, flowers, food, photography and fabulous music! This blog is dedicated to those loves.

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