How are your sunflowers doing?

purple-sunflowerpurple-echinacea

I was too late planting my sunflowers this year, but next year I plan to be on time. I’ve written it in my diary. And I really want to plant something like this. Unfortunately, these images were taken overseas. We used to be able to get colours like this here, but I’m not sure they’re readily available any more.

The sunflower at the top is something like ‘Ms Mars’ or ‘Strawberry Blonde’ though the one shown here looks a little more purple.

The echinaceas in the bottom image look stunning too – though I don’t know what this variety is either.

I have purple flower envy right now.

Summer wildflower bouquet


sunflower-bouquet

Wow. I’m loving this bouquet, which looks like it’s comprised of blooms straight out of a home garden. A picking garden, at that. Such vibrant colours and so cheerful, don’t you think?

My sunflowers, catmint and dahlias are coming along nicely in my own picking garden. I might be able to replicate this bouquet soon.

Image via Project Wedding

Plant Now: Sunflowers


Sunflower-bouquet1

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sunflower-bouquet3

Get your sunny blooms off to a good start now by sowing seeds either directly in the garden or in trays for transplanting later.

Sunflowers come in all sizes (dwarf to gigantic) and varying colours, from vibrant yellows and oranges to deeper shades of brown and red. Plant them in a sunny spot in fertile soil and provide them with good moisture. Lack of soil fertility and moisture will reduce the vigour of your plants.

Sunflowers actually grow according to the space you give them. Cramped plants will produce smaller heads and thinner stalks, so if you want reasonable sized flowers, provide reasonable space between each plant. If you want to grow the tallest sunflowers in your neighbourhood, sow the seeds directly into the soil. They will grow taller when sown directly as opposed to transplanting.

Subtly beautiful bouquet


Green and white wedding bouquet

I really adore this bouquet. It’s so simple but so, so elegant, with its dreamy creamy roses, white hydrangeas, green love-lies-bleeding (amaranth), sunflowers with the petals plucked off, and red berries from the hypericum plant.

Plucking the petals off sunflowers is a neat trick. Once the petals wilt, remove them and you can continue to enjoy the flower head for much longer.

This gorgeous photo comes from The Knotty Bride.

Plant Now: Sunflowers



Oh to be as talented as the lovely Susan over at Florali. And oh to be organised enough to have planted my sunflower seeds already. Not to worry. Now’s a good time to get them in the ground. The weather has warmed up enough to sow the seeds directly, so choose a sunny spot and plant in moist, compost-enriched soil about 5cm deep and 30cm apart. Sunflowers tolerate a wide range of soil types, from sandy to clay, but make sure it’s free-draining.

If you want smaller flowers for the vase or bouquets, space your plants closer together, as close as 10cm. A sunflower that might produce heads 20cm-25cm in diameter when spaced 30cm apart, will produce smaller heads of around 10cm-15cm when spaced only 10cm apart.

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Q&A: My sunflowers won’t set seed


Sunflowers
Q. I would like to harvest my own sunflower seeds to eat. But last year my plants produced no seeds. I have planted a different variety this year. How can I be sure it will set seed? And if it does, how do I harvest them?
Margo

A. You need to make sure you grow a variety that produces them. Many modern-day sunflowers are actually sterile and therefore won’t produce seeds – check your seed packet to be certain. If it says pollen-free (great for those who suffer from hay fever) your sunflower won’t set viable seed if grown on its own or if it doesn’t get fertilised by a pollen-bearing variety. If you do have a seed-producing variety, cover the flower heads with frost cloth or old pantyhose when you notice the seeds beginning to develop, usually  late summer (this is to stop the birds getting to them before you do). When the heads start to droop and the backs turn yellow, the seeds are ready to harvest. Snip off the flower heads, leaving a 50cm stem, and hang in a dry, well-ventilated spot to dry. When seeds have loosened, place a piece of chicken wire over a bucket and rub the seed heads back and forth over the wire, letting the seeds fall into the bucket.

Sunflowers, Ptilotus, Angelonias

Plant NowWhat to plant this week? Sunflowers, Ptilotus (the ‘P’ is silent – Tilotus) and angelonias (the summer snapdragon).

SunflowerSunflowers
Sunflowers can take anywhere between 50 and 100 days from sowing to flowering, depending on the variety (the dwarf varieties are the quickest to mature), so you can sow these cheerful plants right throughout summer. Sow directly or in trays for transplanting later. Find a spot that gets at least six hours of directly sunlight a day, asSunflower2 plants in low light will grow spindly. Bear in mind too that the heads of sunflowers will follow the sun. If planting in the ground, plant them where you will see the blooms (not their backs) when fully mature. For a succession of flowers throughout summer and autumn, sow a few seeds each fortnight.

Ptilotus
Ptilotus exaltatusPtilotus exaltatus is an Aussie wildflower that produces large conical spikes of feathery flowers. Coming from Australia, it’s heat and drought tolerant, although in its natural habitat it flowers best after good autumn and winter rains. Recently it’s received a lot of attention in the cut flower industry because it’s great for picking. Use it for both fresh and dried arrangements. Seeds are best sown from October to December for optimum growth. From Egmont Seeds.

AngeloniaAngelonias
Angelonias are often called summer snapdragons because they look like snapdragons (antirrhinums) but are more heat and drought tolerant (although they still like a bit of water every now and then). They’re also perennials, whereas antirrhinums are annuals. They produce spikes of pink, purple or white flowers that last about 10 days in a vase, so they’re well worth planting in the picking garden. Choose from a selection of colours available from Egmont Seeds.


Gardening with kids

Little girl with flowers
Nurture budding green thumbs by planting oversized flowers and brightly coloured blooms. Kids adore sunflowers, especially when they begin to tower above their heads. Sow seeds directly in the ground, then watch them shoot skywards. When the sunflowers inch just above your kids’ heads, mark their height on the stem with a ribbon. As the sunflower continues to grow, the ribbon will grow higher and higher. Want the tallest sunflowers in the neighbourhood? Grow ‘Skyscraper’ from Kings Seeds, which grows a staggering 3.60m high. [Read more…]