Bright and Beautiful: Learn All About The Sunflower
With their tall green stalks and iconic yellow heads filled with edible seeds, sunflowers instantly bring cheer wherever they are planted. While the classic sunflower is a towering single-stalked yellow-headed giant with dark seeds in its center that can easily reach heights between 1,5 and 3 metres, there are actually hundreds of variations. This expansive selection makes growing sunflowers perfect for anyone, regardless of how much space they have. All that’s needed is adequate sun and moisture.
The Sunflower: Much More Than Meets the Eye
The sunflower is also known for its intriguing behavior called heliotropism. This is the name given to their ability to follow the sun’s movement throughout the day. In the morning, the young sunflower will face to the east as the sun rises. By dusk, it will turn to the west as the sun begins to set.
Inside the head of the sunflower are actually hundreds or even thousands of tiny flowers known as florets. These are joined together in a receptacle base and surrounded by large petals along its edge that don’t become seeds. In many cases, the florets grow in spirals of Fibonacci patterns, making them an intriguing mathematical phenomenon.
Plentiful Varieties for Everyone!
Available in dwarf, tall and medium-sized versions, sunflowers also come in an array of colors and head sizes. Even if one doesn’t have space or the time to devote to the larger flowers, their remarkable beauty can still be enjoyed.
While tall varieties are impressive to look at and bring a great deal of cheeriness to their surroundings, they require more care. Because of their great height, these versions will likely require staking in order to provide them with the additional support they need. They can also be planted against a fence or wall if staking isn’t an option. Giganteus is a tall variety that can reach heights of more than 3,5 metres with heads topping 30 centimetres across. Unlike most tall sunflowers, Giganteus doesn’t usually require staking. Mammoth Russian is another tall variety. It features pointed petals that are a rich golden color and striped seeds. Expect Mammoth Russian to reach heights of 3,5 metres or more.
For gardens that are already proliferated with light-colored flowers, the Chocolate Cherry sunflower provides dark-headed beauty in a medium-sized package. Expect heads that are about 13 centimetres in diameter and blooms that reach a height of 1,5 metres. The Italian White is a good choice if one is looking for a sunflower that is a reliable and beautiful light bloomer with the iconic yellow petals. Its 10 centimetre wide black centers are surrounded by pale yellow petals. This flower can reach heights of about two metres.
If the presence of pollen and a lack of space are barriers to growing sunflowers, the Junior variety could be the answer. A bright-yellow, branching version, Junior heads grow to about 13 centimetres in diameter with the entire plant reaching about 61 centimetres in height. Little Becka grows to heights of less than a metre and features 15 centimetre wide petals that provide contrasting hues of gold and crimson.
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