Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Summers would surely be dull without sunflowers. These are so easy to grow. In 2010 you’ll find some great new varieties that are suitable for cut flowers.
China Cat sunflower is a special variety that is especially suitable as a cut flower. These blossoms, six to eight inches wide, are pollenless. The petals overlap so they look semi-double. These are in traditional yellow tones, while the centers are golden brown. This has sturdy stems that reach four to five feet in height.
Sunrich Lemon Summer is a new addition to the Sunrich series. This has lovely lemon colored petals. The stems are over 2˝ feet tall. It blooms about ten days before Sunrich Lemon.
For 2010 Park Seed has added Sunny Babe sunflower. Reaching five feet in height, these are bushy, well branched plants with lots of flower heads ready for cutting. The blossoms are four inches in diameter. They feature golden yellow, single petals and large black centers. It will bloom throughout the summer.
As fresh flowers, the sunflower stems are ready to harvest when the blooms begin to open. For everlastings, allow the blossoms to fully open before harvesting.
It is best to direct sow sunflower seeds where they are to grow. Though they don’t like being transplanted they’re sometimes started indoors. Just don’t do this more than three or four weeks before the last expected frost date. The seeds take about one to two weeks to germinate at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or so.
In addition to the annual sunflowers, there are perennial ones that are used as cut flowers. Sunshine Daydream is a new hybrid perennial sunflower that is especially floriferous.
Recommended for zones four through eight, Sunshine Daydream has richly double, dahlia-like blossoms that make an excellent cut flower. The blooms are fully double, and resemble dahlias. With golden yellow petals, these are 2˝ inches wide. It blooms from late spring until early fall. The stems can reach five feet in height. Give this plenty of room in the cutting garden as the plants can be four feet wide.
As a cut flower, sunflowers are used as a large mass flower. They have a vase life of over a week. Harvest when some of the petals are nearly completely open.
The perennial sunflowers as well as the annual ones need full sun. These are adapted to most any well drained soil. Allow several feet between plants in the cutting garden.