There’s something especially fun and entertaining about growing sunflowers. I’m not sure what it is that makes these old fashioned favorites so popular.
Everybody Loves Sunflowers
Kids are fascinated by sunflowers, and adults are drawn to them as well. Honeybees love the pollen and a host of other beneficial insects can be found hovering around them. Birds flock to sunflowers and will strip them bare before the seeds even finish ripening.
Squirrels, chipmunks, baseball players… it seems like everyone is attracted to sunflowers and their nutritious, edible seeds. What’s so special about this simple garden flower?
Granted, they definitely stand out with blooms that can be larger around than a dinner plate, and plants that can tower over the tallest basketball player. Then there’s the unusual habit that the flowers have of following the sun as it tracks across the sky.
For the home gardener it doesn’t get much simpler than growing sunflowers. Just place them, shell and all in the soil and they’re guaranteed to grow, provided the seed wasn’t salted and roasted prior to planting. There’s nothing at all complicated about growing this flower.
Popular Sunflower Varieties
One thing that may not be as recognizable is some of the varieties that are available for growing and incorporating sunflowers in the vegetable, herb, or flower garden. You can even find sunflowers that are suitable for growing in smaller gardens, containers, and window boxes.
Where gigantic varieties used to be the norm, now miniature versions are popular and common. In addition, the dark centers with light colored petals can be supplemented with a variety of interesting new shades and hues.
Interesting sunflower varieties include; Ring of Fire, Musicbox, Kong, Infrared, Santa Fe, Petit Bouquet, Giant Primrose, Italian White, Autumn Beauty, Lemon Queen, Teddy Bear, Torch, Orange Sun, Russian Giant, Moulin Rouge, Sunbeam, and Valentine.
Growing Sunflower Greens
We’re all familiar with the sunflower’s tasty edible seeds, but untreated food grade seeds can also be planted in soil and grown indoors to produce nutritious salad greens. Soak the unshelled seeds in water overnight, drain, and spread on top of a shallow flat or tray containing an inch of soil.
Keep moist and the seeds will quickly germinate, a week later you’ll be able to harvest delicious, nutty tasting sunflower greens to add to fresh vegetable salads. Harvest the sunflower greens after the plants develop one set of leaves by cutting the plants at soil level and brush off any remaining hulls.
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