One of the most rewarding plants for a summer display in any garden that will bring a smile to every face is the sunflower.
Sunflowers are one of the easiest plants to grow and their flowers signal the height of summer. Depending on which type you grow they can grow to astonishing heights of up to four metres and the flowers can be up to 30 centimetres or more in diameter.
One interesting characteristic of sunflowers is that their flowers will follow the sun from east to west like tracking stations and return to the east overnight. As their name implies, to get the best from sunflowers, provide a location where they will receive six to eight hours of sunlight a day.
Choose a variety that fits your garden needs, they come in a range of colours from white, creams, reds and the ubiquitous warm golden yellow and orange shades.
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Bring out that artistic streak by planting Van Gough's landscape, another tall variety with a classic golden bloom produced on a single stem, an ideal cut flower variety that will last up to a week in a vase. Planted in a group this statuesque plant will make for an arresting display. Tall varieties may require staking, but should be fine if grown somewhere with protection from strong winds.
Most sunflower varieties grow to be quite tall, but some miniature varieties peak at under a metre. Lower growing multi-branching sunflower varieties are just as spectacular as their taller siblings. Teddy bear is a sunflower that may be small in stature but packs a punch in flora display. The double golden-orange flowers have a soft and fluffy appearance and growing to a height of around only 50 centimetres they are great for any garden or container display.
Like all annuals sunflowers require a rich, friable organic soil to grow their best. Sow seeds directly in soil rather than transplanting from containers as sunflowers roots require substantial space to develop, starting seedlings in containers can stunt sunflower development. Sunflowers are very attractive to a range of pollinators such as bees, and birds will certainly be drawn to them when seeds develop, protect developing seeds by bagging or netting.
The tallest sunflower recorded was grown in Germany in 2014, measuring nine metres.
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