“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what sunflowers do.”
~ Helen Keller
Sunflowers have been an adored subject over the decades and many have documented their interpretation of the beautifully packaged ray of sunshine within gardens around the world.
Impressionistic artists wielded their tools with expressive bold strokes of gold and yellows and a compliment of deep purples and blues within their light bathed canvas. Some artists gained great recognition for their use of sunflowers within their work.
source: Van Gogh Gallery
Two Cut Sunflowers, Oil on Canvas, 1887 Vincent van Gogh
“The sunflower is mine, in a way.”
~ Vincent van Gogh
source: Norton Simon Museum
The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil, 1881, Claude Monet
In Victorian times, ladies and gents sent “coded messages” to one another by eagerly thumbing through a well-worn flower language dictionary as they gathered and lovingly tied together flowers for their intended. To receive a tussie-mussie (bouquet of flowers) that included a sunflower, or two, brought great joy to the receiver, as it meant that the sender has great adoration for you.
And of course, Sunflowers, dried or freshly cut, have been coveted components of fall décor both inside and outside the home. Who could resist a vase filled with sunshine from the garden 🙂
Let me start of by saying that I L O V E this sunflower. This is a very beautiful sunflower with its light lemon yellow coloring and beautiful dark brown centers. It’s also very easy to grow and care for. I give it five hearts in my garden!
On July 6th, I started about eight sunflower seeds using my awesome soil blocks. All of the seeds germinated within 3-4 days, and the newly emerged seedlings were healthy, green and growing well. Then came time to transplant the seedlings into my raised beds. At the time of planting, we were experiencing a record heat wave (115°F+), so I paid special attention to my little seedlings while they hardened off outside in a nice shady area. I brought the little guys back indoors for the evening and also if it was too windy outside. Because we were still in the process of building our raised beds, the hardening off period lasted 13 days (versus my preferred 5 days). After planting, my little sunflower plants struggled to establish themselves into my garden. Within a week or two, they just sizzled and died. Fiddling with the irrigation during this time – too much, then too little – added to their decline.
After the heat tuned into our normal (100°F to 105°F) sweltering early August desert days, I decided to try direct sowing a few seeds into the raised beds. Success! The seeds (2) germinated within 7 days and had steady healthy growth throughout the heat of summer.
Out of all the varieties of sunflowers to choose from, I decided to try this heirloom sunflower. I liked the idea that this sunflower would grow to about 5′ maybe 6′ tall and that it would fit nicely under my shade cloth-covered veggie garden (my shade cloth structure is 8′ high). My sunflowers topped out at a height of 4 feet 2 inches. Nice manageable height 🙂
With its smaller bloom and diminutive seed size, this sunflower fit nicely into my plan to attract bees to the garden versus having seeds to eat.
This sunflower’s multi-branching/multi-bloom habit provides plenty of flowers, nectar and pollen for my beloved bees. It’s true… bees love sunflowers!
The Lemon Queen Sunflowers in my garden produced one main flower (about 7″ wide) and a supporting cast of flowers along its stalk ranging from 2″ to 4″ across. This sunflower has held up well for me in our desert winds, but as the flowers continue to bloom (from the top down), the sunflower was getting a bit top-heavy so I decided to put in place a long thick (about 2″ diameter) nectarine branch as a stake to help support the weight.
As far as feeding and irrigation, Sunflowers like nitrogen… about 1.28 ounces per sq. ft. ~ approximately 2-1/2 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft.. The soil I used in my raised bed is new (75% forest green waste / 25% sand, kelp meal, organic nitrogen) and already rich in nitrogen, so I opted to do a sea kelp tea drench instead.
Here is the recipe I used for the sea kelp tea… 1/4 cup kelp meal in 1 gallon water. Let soak overnight. I poured about 1/4 of the mixture (liquid and bloated kelp meal pieces) around the base of my sunflowers. I only did this once just before bloom.
Irrigation: I give my sunflowers about 1-1/2″ of water each week. With my drip irrigation system (Netafim Techline CV .9gph – 12″ spc), this equates to 20 minutes 3x each week (60 minutes total).
I’m sure this is more info than you every wanted to know about this sunflower, but if you’ve decided to try it in your garden, well… I’m glad 🙂 You can never go wrong with a sunflower or two growing in you garden, and the Lemon Queen Sunflower is perfect for a home garden.
Take advantage of the day ~ get outside and enjoy the sun’s comforting warmth 🙂