Colors of Autumn
Sunflowers provide color in the fall
Though highly valued economically, the tall, graceful sunflower has long been denied its rightful place in the landscape. Few plants can boast better color, yet the sunflower nods its head as though ashamed of its own beauty. Sunflowers make excellent temporary hedges and screens and provide a showy backdrop for flowerbeds while dwarf cultivars make excellent borders and color beds.
Plant seeds after danger of spring frost has passed. The seeds can be either sown directly on the open ground and then lightly raked in, or planted individually in a hole twice as deep as the width of the seed. Germination occurs in 10 to 14 days at temperatures from 65-85 F. Sunflowers need full sun and will bloom from late summer until frost.
Thin the seedlings once they reach 8 inches in height. Spacing depends on the variety and the purpose of planting. Sunflowers will grow in even the poorest soils and don't require additional fertilization, but a broadcasting handful of a complete fertilizer will encourage stronger growth and more flowering.
Several varieties of sunflowers have been introduced especially for cut flowers. The following list was taken from the Shepherd's Garden Seeds catalog:
The 5-inch flowers come in a variety of petal and disc colors.
This variety grows well in containers, beds and borders and reaches 15-18 inches tall.
SOURCE: Ginger Layman, horticulture student assistant, and Mary Beth Musgrove Extension associate-horticulture, Alabama Cooperative Extension System (334) 844-5481.