Name: Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Growth habit: Tall plants grow upright with flowers at the top. Many varieties can reach over 10 feet in height, and some grow even higher. Because of their gargantuan size, they are often a child’s favorite flower. (Luckily they are also quite easy to grow, once established.)
Light Level: Prefers full sun, tolerates small amount of shade
Water: Generously when seed heads start to appear. Somewhat drought resistant.
Fertilization: Any water-soluble fertilizer formulated for garden flowers or vegetables.
Planting Medium: Light, loose, well-draining soil. Mix in some sand for some varieties.
Common afflictions: Downy mildew, rust, wilt, head rot, canker
Pruning: Typically none advised except to remove dead or wilting leaves. Prune a sunflower at the base of the stalk to thin plants that are too close together. Some varieties can be pruned at the top to promote multiple blossoms.
Sunflower Facts: Sunflowers, as we know them, originated in the Americas where the native people used them for food, dye and oil. Sunfowers come in a wide variety of sizes and shades, although most sunflowers are shades of yellow, orange and red. Some varieties produce enormous flowers, which can be used for their edible kernels. Dried seed heads produce a plethora of gray and white seeds and the kernels inside are a favorite snack for squirrels, birds and humans. Sunflowers are also commercially grown for their oil. Dwarf sunflowers can be planted in pots for a decorative addition to the patio.
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