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green-centered sunflower
brown-centered sunflower


harvest season: June-October
vase life: 1-2 weeks

Sunflowers are one of America's favorite flowers and a native plant, too. Paleolithic Native Americans were using wild sunflowers for food some 10,000 years ago and they've been domesticated for at least 5000 years. There are a wide variety of sunflower species, both annuals and perennials, but the one that generally comes to mind when we think of sunflowers is the cultivated annual, helianthus anuus. This is the same species that is commonly grown as a cut flower all over the world. Honey bees and other pollinating insects love the copious sticky nectar of sunflowers.

Although we think of them as a summer flower, sunflower seedlings are surprisingly cold hardy, and sunflowers are one of the first summer annuals to begin germinating in the garden in late winter. Nature is willing to take chances with these extra-early seedlings, but we like to improve our chances by transplanting rather than direct-seeding all of our sunflowers and protecting our early plantings with floating row covers (better known locally as tobacco canvas). We make our first planting of sunflowers in mid-March and continue planting them every week until August.

The cut flower sunflowers we plant are different than the garden and field varieties grown for seed. Regular sunflowers shed a storm of pollen that coats everything around in a layer of sticky yellow dust when they're cut and brought inside. So breeders have developed pollenless hybrids that don't shed any pollen. In addition to not making a mess on the dining room table, these cut flower varieties have other desirable traits like strong stems, upward facing flowers, attractive disks and petals, and long vase life. Although seed catalogs are crowded with red, bicolor, double, and other specialty varieties, we have never found any of them that achieve the standard of quality and longevity we expect from our cut flowers, and they tend to look better in a catalog than they do in a vase.

With careful variety selection, early protected planting, weekly succession plantings, proper growing, harvesting and post-harvest handling, Falling Springs Flowers is able to provide beautiful, long-lasting sunflowers every week from June through October.