Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunflowers

I love growing sunflowers. Last year I had 2 and I promised myself I would grow more this year. Trying to get a head start, I planted a dozen seeds in little pots and put them in a sunny window. They sprouted almost immediately, but then didn't do much else for several weeks, except get stringy. I planted them outside and visited them every day. Much to my chagrin, the seedlings were eaten and nothing was left but a little stalk. So I planted a dozen more seeds directly in the ground. They also sprouted immediately, and also were eaten by the birds and/or squirrels. Argh! Next I bought a bunch of plastic cups to use as collars and planted a dozen more seeds. Success! The cups could stay protecting the cups until the true leaves came in, which must not be as tasty as the first set.

Sunflowers are amazing. In just a short time span they grow to 10 feet tall and then produce a magnificent bloom.


Here is the long view and you can see how tall they are. The blooms are in various stages - some have not yet opened, some are in the process, and one (nearly hidden) is bent over with the weight of the developing seeds.

It is fascinating to watch the process. The little blossoms open first on the outside rim, then work their way towards the center. The bees and the butterflies love them!


You can see here the outside blossoms have been fertilized and are growing seeds. The next band is the pistils that have just been fertilized. The next band is waiting for the bees to do their job, and the very center has not yet begun the process.

As the blossoms get fertilized and the seeds begin to develop, the head of the flower goes from flat to bowl shaped, and gets heavier and heavier.


This head has been entirely fertilized and is so heavy that the stalk has bent over and the flower is facing the ground. It will take several weeks for the seeds to develop. Once that is done, I can leave the head on the plant and let the birds eat the seeds from there. Or I can cut the head and hang it to dry, and then harvest the seeds. Last year I cut the heads off but I think that this year I will leave them out and watch the birds go after them.

1 comment:

CarmiƱa said...

Hello,
Your sunflowers are beautiful.
This year i planted sunflowers in pots again and again and again but 6 seeds any time, they sprouted like yours and a few days they stop growing and i planted again... i change the pots to other side and now they're still growing, i think they have no time to bloom, at least i can see yours, they are gorgeous. Congratulations