It may be the end of summer, but Sunflower growing season can stretch as long as the sun keeps shining and the weather stays warm! As a general rule, sunflowers bloom 60-75 days after germination; if your first frost is at least that many days away, there’s STILL time to plant (and bloom!) these cheery annuals!
The best thing about sunflowers is their ability to reseed. The sunflower in my rear cutting garden (above) is third “generation” from seeds originally sown in late winter. In contrast, the plants in the photo below are first generation, sown during the intense heat of early July.
Pulling the focus back a bit, you’ll notice the stressful conditions this group endures.
Unlike the soil in the rear cutting garden, this little plot on the west side of my house is extremely sandy, with no soil amendments. A year or so ago, an invasive Solanum Diphyllum (aka Two Leaved Nightshade tree) sprouted near the fence. Birds love the berries, so I’ve let it grow, transplanting a few handfuls of Helianthus Debilis (aka beach sunflower) as surrounding groundcover. Then in late June, I tossed some leftover “American Giants” sunflower seeds around the tree and let nature take its course. Although this first round of plants is leggy, thin, and struggling, most should bloom and reseed themselves when the weather is a bit cooler. Prediction: by this time next summer, the entire spot should be completely filled in! 🙂
If you’re laying in a fall vegetable garden, why not plant a row of sunflowers along the northern edge and see what happens? Bear in mind: due to a reduction in daylight hours, sunflowers planted now may yield shorter plants that bloom quicker than those planted in Spring.
In closing, I’ll leave you with two little known facts:
- the head of the sunflower, often erroneously referred to as a flower, actually consists of 1000 – 2000 individual flowers.
- The petals surrounding the head are called ray flowers.
Until next time……..