Follow me on social media 💕
I saw in the news yesterday that pick your own sunflower farms have influencers flocking to them, and in some instances, stripping down to their birthday suits.
Well let me tell you this my friends – you can get naked in the comfort of your own home with your own sunflowers!
I often (daily at the moment) get asked how I get my sunflowers so large by my plot neighbours. To be honest, there’s hardly any input from me. I start them in April, I pot them on as needed until the last frost. By that time, they’re mature enough to be planted outdoors. Slugs love herbaceous and nitrogenous new growth, so I find planting plants that are still juvenile but have a bit of good growth, works better for me and the slugs are deterred. Once planted, they also benefit from a nitrogenous feed occasionally such as comfrey, nettle, or seaweed to stimulate that green herbaceous growth.
Sunflowers come in two ways:
- Single head (normally a single, giant flower head and giant leaves with a girthy stem. Good for ‘tallest sunflower’ competitions)
- Multi head (produces a large amount of flower heads, great for cutting)
Why are multi head sunflowers good for cutting?
Due to the plant producing many flowering heads, it’s more productive to keep cutting them off. When a plant flowers, it is trying to reproduce. So when you remove its attempt of reproduction, it will keep trying. Feed them every 10 days with a little tomato feed so the flowers stay a good size. If you leave the heads on the plant and the flower produces seed, this takes energy and nutrients for the soil that could have been reserved for more flower production. Just try and make sure they don’t go to seed and you will get a steady flow of gorgeous flowers for your home. They also come in a variety of funky colours.
Single head sunflowers only produce on flowering head so their flowering time, compared to multi head, is limited but you let these beasts go to seed and you have your own home-grown bird feed. I love leaving the whole plant out for the blue tits and they help themselves to the seed. It depends on what you want out of your sunflowers. Single headed are normally too big and heavy for a vase but it depends how big your vase is!
Here are my top must-have sunflowers for cutting for 2024 (you can spend time naked with them in the privacy of your own home but that’s entirely your choice):
- ‘Indian Blanket’
- ‘Orange Sun Double’
- ‘Ms Mars’
- ‘Velvet Queen’
- ‘Ring of Fire’
- ‘Lemon Queen’
- ‘Black Magic’
- ‘Magic Roundabout’
- ‘Autumn Beauty’
I tried the single head cutting sunflower ‘Sunfill Green’ and ‘Sunfill Purple’ and was really disappointed. They promise a lot but actually they’re just a single sunflower with more sepals and short petals. They were varying sizes and you have to pick them for cutting just prior to flowering and I just couldn’t do that and found it wasteful to grow. Even when they flower fully, they’re not spectacular. The name makes them sound more fun than they are. I suppose if you had 50 of them, that would be different a it makes them more disposable, but my main problem is that it’s a single head sunflower for cutting and that doesn’t make sense, so I don’t recommend it, regardless of it’s disappointing flowering. It was a valuable waste of energy that I could have used for something a lot more productive.
I love growing Sunflowers. I can’t walk past a sunflower without smiling so when I start to see my first of the season, I get excited and so should you.
The botanical name for sunflower ‘Helianthus annuus’ is derived from the Greek words for sun (Helios) and flower (anthos), and the Latin for annual (annuus). It’s one of the first botanical names I learnt on my RHS Level II course and had me hooked from there on.
I have grown sunflowers for years now and delight myself with finding new cultivars for cutting purposes.