I adore sunflowers. I think most people do. They’re so darn cheery, and so easy to grow. When I was growing up, the only sunflowers I was really familiar with were the ones with one giant yellow flower that inevitably ended up hanging from its own weight. You know the ones I’m talking about. They were nice but unless you wanted the seeds, it seemed like you didn’t get much bang for your buck so to speak.

It wasn’t until I had my own house and garden that I discovered other species. “Velvet Queen” was the first one I tried, if I remember correctly and it’s one I still grow to this day. “Velvet Queen” has a branching habit, so you get multiple blooms. They are smaller than the giants I grew up with, so the flowers remain upright where you can admire them properly. They are a red sunflower, but they do tend to vary in shades between deep dark red to gold with red streaks. They are all beautiful, but the darker ones are my favorites.

This year I’m trying some other varieties. I became enamored with the idea of white sunflowers, so I bought “Italian White”. Well, I’m a bit disappointed with that one. The stalks were spindly, growing to between 4′-5′. They were the first to bloom this year. They produce several small flowers with pale yellow petals and dark centers. They are not white, or off-white, in my opinion. They are yellow. They’re still pretty and they make great cut flowers to cheer up the house. The seeds of these are teeny tiny, but I’m sure the birds won’t mind a bit. I will probably not keep growing these.

The second kind I’m trying this year is “Moonshine”. The photos of “Moonshine” are close to how the flowers of “Italian White” turned out. My “Moonshine” sunflowers are just about to bloom, but they aren’t there yet. They have strong, sturdy stalks and look like they will be a good one. I’m looking forward to seeing them in bloom.

I also found some leftover seeds from “Teddybear” dwarf sunflower, so I just put those out. With the long growing season here, if they germinate they should bloom in the Fall. I put a few more “Velvet Queen” sunflowers out as well since the first batch is in full bloom now.

There are a lot of hybrids I’d like to try but I end up not getting them because they lack pollen. That just seems like such a tease to me… the poor bee sees this big beautiful flower, but it’s a dud. There is one in particular that looks interesting – “Joker”. “Joker” has double blooms and fantastic colors from the photos I’ve seen. I may try it next year, but I do wish it wasn’t a hybrid.

On my list to try is “Red Sun”, “Ring of Fire”, “Earthwalker”, “Moulin Rouge” and “Autumn Beauty”.  I’m attaching some photos of this year’s crop, minus the “Moonshine”. Check out the giant bee that photobombed me!


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