Natomas Dirt: Facts About Sunflowers

I thought I would share some interesting tidbits I learned about growing sunflowers this year in Northern California. The wife and I grew two varieties — including the Moulin Rouge. There’s my lovely wife tending to this year’s sunflower garden from earlier this summer. Nice eh? Watch it! Sunflowers are a TRAP! They are a CURSE upon man!

And here’s why:

1. One sunflower plant equals fifty sunflower plants next year:

This is a true statement. I was a bit worried when my wife started ripping out dead sunflowers from one of the planter beds in late summer, but never thought all of those seeds hitting the ground during the removal process would germinate. Boy howdy, was I wrong. As you can probably tell from these photos, I’m the proud owner of a small sunflower forest — which continues to grow at a rather rapid and alarming rate. I thought that the winter freeze would kill the new plants off. Hah! Sunflowers laugh at freezing temperatures. All of that green you see? While it’s true that some of them are weeds, the vast majority of plants inside and around the planter bed are, in fact, sunflowers that germinated from seed that fell to the ground during the removal process during the late fall.
2. Sunflowers are “plant friendly” and grow well in mixed beds:

WRONG! Sunflowers take over every square inch of space and knock out the hardiest of vegetable and/or flower plants. They are a curse upon all gardeners. They cannot be contained.

3. Sunflowers make excellent cut flowers in vase arrangements:
FALSE! There is no such thing as “vase arrangements” when it comes to sunflowers. “Vase Arrangements” implies flowers other than sunflowers. What other flowers are available after the sunflowers kill everything off? A vase full of sunflowers looks good. A “vase arrangement” of sunflowers is an oxymoron.

4. Sunflowers require good soil, fertilizer and love to thrive:

FALSE! Sunflowers will grow in asphalt! They’ll grow straight out of concrete! Good soil, bad soil, rocky soil, rocky asphalt, a bowl of acid, it doesn’t matter. Sunflowers take over.

5. Once you grow sunflowers, you’ll always have sunflowers, whether you want them or not:

TRUE!!! Sunflowers laugh at Roundup, blowtorches, plutonium and nuclear weapons. The scientist who predicted that only cockroaches would survive a nuclear holocaust obviously never met a sunflower.

6. Sunflowers are a gardeners best friend:

FALSE! A more true statement would be “sunflowers are a gardener’s best curse!” Now that I have stated the lesson of the day, does anyone, perchance, need sunflower starter plants or sunflower seeds? I appear to have too much of both.

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