June 22, 2024

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A sunflower for every garden | Gardening advice

Sunflowers are just one of these species that seriously do tick each and every box. Aesthetically, they are as showy and dazzling as they arrive. Virtually, they are very effortless to increase, with truly excellent resistance to drought and pests. Economically, you can expand dozens of them from seed for fewer than the selling price of a pint and, if you preserve the ones you increase, you can produce hundreds much more the upcoming yr. However most likely the rationale they aren’t as well-known as they have earned to be is that few persons are informed of their great variety, which goes far further than the huge, yellow types that instantly appear to head. So below is my endeavor to address that.

Teddy bear sunflower, with hundreds of tiny petals that make it look fuzzy
Teddy bear sunflower. Photograph: Alamy

Let’s start out with a single that could not be further from the archetype of dinner plate-sized blooms of golden yellow. ‘Sun Fill Green’ has a interesting mutation that has dramatically stunted its capability to develop petals, which tends to make the leafy-eco-friendly sepals that usually continue to be concealed truly appear to the fore. Visualize a curious cross between an artichoke and a typical sunflower, generating a sort of exotic, emerald sea-creature seem. With blooms held large on 180cm crops, they have the extensive stems that are perfect for flower arrangers and an huge vase lifetime.

At the other stop of the scale, ‘Teddy Bear’ has a genetic quirk that produces so several hundreds of tiny petals that its entire head is just a fuzzy mass of saffron yellow. It is so unbelievably textural that even folks like me, who commonly shy absent from as well significantly color, can’t are unsuccessful to be mesmerised. Developing a little shorter, to all-around 150cm, this blend of it being smaller in stature, having a cartoon-character look and staying a super-rapid grower, tends to make it a fantastic selection for young children.

If color actually is your point, there is always ‘Black Magic’, which has deep claret-colored petals, flawlessly complementing their dark chocolate centres. Just one action even more than that is the showstopping ‘Ms Mars’, whose rosy pink petals fade out slowly but surely from darkish purple centres to pale pink ideas in a dramatic ombré vogue. All of this on small crops that will not improve extra than 60cm substantial, which tends to make them excellent for patio pots or containers, or as quirky accents on the front of the border.

A single Ms Mars, a kind of sunflower with two-tone pink petals
Ms Mars sunflower. Photograph: John R Martin/Shutterstock

Of study course, one particular seriously simple way to radically alter the overall look of sunflowers is not opting for genetic variants, but merely to grow them in a different way. Just pinching out the escalating suggestion at the end of May will cause vegetation to redirect strength into side buds, generating stockier, branched crops with many more compact flowers, somewhat than towering specimens with single big heads.

Whatsoever you do, give the sunflower a go in a sunny patch this 12 months. It’ll deliver you with joy for months to appear.

Adhere to James on Twitter @Botanygeek