Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Don’t you just love sunflowers? When you’re looking for a flower to chase away the blues, there’s nothing better than cheerful, smiling sunflowers.
These plants are very much in the news these days. Now discarded cell
phones sprout into sunflowers. Soon there'll be recyclable cell phones that can be used to grow seeds. Scientists at the University of Warwick’s Warwick Manufacturing Group have collaborated with PVAXX Research and Development to come up with a novel way to re-use old cell phones. They’re creating a mobile phone cover that can be used to grow flowers. For their prototype, they selected seeds of dwarf sunflowers. They embed the seed in a small transparent window in the phone cover, which will remain there until the phone user recycles the phone cover, at which point the sunflower will germinate.
If you want to grow sunflowers for you cutting garden, you need not wait for these special phones to be available.
Each year, more and more wonderful varieties are introduced to the marketplace. Let’s look at some that are available in 2005.
The F1 hybrid Premier Light Yellow sunflower was specially bred for use as cut flowers. These pollenless blooms are cream yellow with huge black centers. About three feet in height, these uniform plants are very early to bloom. The first flowers appear about fifty days after the seeds are planted. These bloom prolifically during the early spring and summer.
The Sunrich sunflower series comes in a variety of colors. Among these are gold, orange, and lemon. The last two have gigantic dark centers. The centers of Sunrich Gold sunflower have touches of green with a darker gold. All of these are pollenless. These long-lasting blooms are around six inches in diameter. These densely-petaled flowers face upright on the sturdy stems. Plants can range in height from three to five feet. They begin producing flowers about 60-70 days from the time the seeds are sown.
For 2005, Thompson & Morgan chose the Bicentenary sunflower as its Flower of the Year. This has been selected by the Royal Horticultural Society and featured in their famous Bicentenary Plant Collection, which honors two hundred years of the society’s history. For this occasion, Thompson & Morgan is holding a photo contest. Those growing the plants can take photos, and send them to the company by August 31, 2005 for inclusion in the contest. The winner will receive a $200 gift voucher for future purchases from the company’s mail-order catalog.
The Bicentenary sunflower has gorgeous bi-colored blooms. These are a rich gold around the outer edges and a deep bronze towards the middle. The centers are dark black. These blooms are six inches wide, and would make a perfect cut flower. Noted for its superior garden performance, Bicentenary is a multiflora type with lots of flower heads. It has unusually soft, silvery-green leaves.
Though there may be lots of delightful yellow and gold varieties of sunflowers, the red or bronze ones aren’t as common. Red Sun sunflower is really remarkable. It features deep red blooms in a medium size. These look velvety. Around the brown centers are touches of yellow. Red Sun is a very tall, multiflora type, seven feet or more in height. These are available from Seymour’s Selected Seeds.
Seymour’s also offers Moulin Rouge sunflower. This is the right choice for cut flowers. The large blooms are deep red with dark centers. They’re produced on long, branching stems. The plant is six feet in height.
Starburst Lemon Aura sunflower is another wonderful pollenless variety from Seymour’s. The lemon yellow flowers are purely double, and look more like a mum than a sunflower because of the yellow and green centers. The three to four inch wide blooms are borne on four-foot tall plants. This is a multiflora type with many branches.
If you want sunflower seeds for your cutting garden, you won’t go wrong with Renee’s Garden Seeds’ Bright Bandolier sunflower mix. Selected exclusively for cut flowers, these pollenless varieties range in colors from warm mahoganies to sunshine yellows.
For a mix of different sunflowers from singles to fully doubles, a perfect choice is Renee’s Sun Samba Color Mix sunflowers. This features a wide array of colors, both solids and bi-colors, on branching plants. These are all ideal for cut flowers. Renee’s seeds are available in retail stores and online at their website.