Lemon Queen Sunflower

Lemon Queen Sunflower

“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.

Two-Cut-Sunflowerssource: Van Gogh Gallery

Two Cut Sunflowers, Oil on Canvas, 1887 Vincent van Gogh

“The sunflower is mine, in a way.”

~ Vincent van Gogh

ClaudeMonetsource: 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.

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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 🙂

MyGardenDetails

100813_Sunflower1Lemon Queen Sunflower

5 Hearts - Awesome

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.

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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 🙂100513_Sunflower2

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.

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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!

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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.

100413_Sunflower10 100413_Sunflower11 100413_Sunflower12 100513_Sunflower3As 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.

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Take advantage of the day ~ get outside and enjoy the sun’s comforting warmth 🙂

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Tilly’s Nest
An Oregon Cottage

The Chicken Chick

God Bless,

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8 Comments

Filed under desert gardening, Heirloom Flowers

8 responses to “Lemon Queen Sunflower

  1. I have a bee-filled garden and they never bother me. The only time I came close to being stung was when one of my chickens plucked a rather surprised bumble bee out of the air and then shook her head to get rid of the suddenly angry bee. When she released it, she accidentally flung it at me! Even so, it zoomed off rather than stinging me.

    I had accidental sunflowers this year. I have no idea what kind they were, and I suspect they were in some chicken seed that got missed. Anyway, they were so lovely that I am growing some on purpose sunflowers next year. The Lemon Queen look delightful and I will keep an eye out for seeds..

    • Great bumble bee story – glad you did not get stung. I had a friend who was stung by a bumble bee once and she told me the horror story about the pain and swelling… so much worse than a honey bee sting.

      Sunflowers are so prolific. I actually have a couple of “unknown” sunflowers growing on the back of my property that I never planted. I suspect birds dropped the seeds. The Lemon Queen sunflower is such a wonderful variety of sunflower. One word of caution… if you like to bring in cut sunflowers for a display in your home, these sunflowers do have pollen and will make a mess of things. Their benefits in the garden though are priceless.

  2. What a beautiful and educational post! Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick
    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

    • Hi Kathy – thank you for featuring my post on your blog. I love reading your stories about your chickens. Hubby and I plan to start our own “chicken family” in the next year or so. I plan to be a frequent visitor so I can learn everything we can before/after our new family has arrived 🙂

  3. lois

    Beautiful flowers. Very big, but I’m not so sure about the bees. I do know they are needed but I not sure how to keep them from stinging .

    • Sunflowers are the best! They are just so… happy. It’s hard to resist smiling when looking at them in person.

      As for the bees… in the garden, I think there’s a secret agreement between gardeners and bees. They just sort of go about their business collecting pollen and nectar while I tend to the garden. Lots of times, my hands are right in the plant where they’re harvesting their “gold” and they pay me no mind. I’m always gentle around them and careful not to thrash things about too much. Now walking straight up to the front of their hive for any length of time is another story.

      • lois

        How can you tell if they are upset? Do they make a loud buzzing sound or just sneak up on you and …..Ouch! they sting you?

        • The obvious sign… a sting will definitely tell you they’re upset. Usually they’ll start buzzing around you more aggressively when they’re irritated. The africanized bees will actually “bump” you in the chest, arm, etc. It’s best to respect their space. Sometimes that’s easier said then done, so make sure you have a bee sting kit handy.

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