Summer means Sunflowers

 My grand dog is proud of her gorgeous bunches of sunflowers.

My grand dog is proud of her gorgeous bunches of sunflowers.

Summer is here.  

It is sunny and hot (sort of).

The beach gear is ready.  

You are turning your sights to summer entertaining.

All you want to see is a sunflower! 

For many, sunflowers are the go-to summer flower.

With their bright yellow flower heads, they brighten your day in an instant.

 

 

In the early summer, and for nice contrast in the fall bouquets, the light-centered sunflowers are quite popular.  In the heat of the summer, in July and August, the dark-centered suns are a favorite year after year.

I sow sunflowers from spring to about mid-summer to ensure I have them available from about July to almost up to frost. Different varieties have different light requirements for optimal growth, so I change varieties as the season progresses.

This week I had both dark-centered suns and light-centered suns. They were grown with the goal of having large heads for sunflower-only bunches. For bouquets, I like to grow smaller-sized sunflowers instead.

 

 

 

Here's a nice close-up of a couple of light-centered suns...

 

 

 

 

... and here is one of the dark-centered varieties.

 

 

 

This one I'll leave in the field.  

Once a bee pollinates a sunflower, I leave it to develop seeds for birds and little ground critters, and that's just fine by me. 

As a general rule, I strive to cut sunflowers before they are fully open to ensure the longest vase life. 

 

For bouquets and arrangements, my goal is to grow smaller sunflowers, rather than larger ones. They seem to work better because they do not take over the whole bouquet. Don't these look great in this bouquet of bright summer colors?

To help keep sunflowers on the smaller size, I grow them closer together.  It's like having a single tree growing near an old stonewall, soaking up all the sun, water, nutrients and having room to spread out versus a group of trees growing closer together, which have to share all the good stuff and tend to grow upward, but not as much outward.

 

 

Cutting sunflowers and prepping them for your bouquets and arrangements takes a bit of effort. By the time you see them, I have removed many large leaves from the length of the stem. I usually try to strip the stems in the field as natural compost.

At the end of the day, a nap is usually in order for my number one helper.