Thursday, February 1, 2018


By Cherie Luke

Sunflowers, an annual, are one of the easiest plants to grow. The botanical
name for sunflowers is Helianthus, helios meaning sun and anthus
meaning flower. They are part of the asteraceae family and are native to
North America. They have a habit of turning their heads to face the sun,
usually facing east when their flowers open.

Although gardeners in general love to grow the tallest and biggest
sunflowers, there are many varieties that are beautiful and fit nicely into
almost any garden setting. Sunflowers can be grown in colors besides
yellow and gold. You can find seeds at your local garden center in bronze,
purple, orange, and red, and in varying heights. At one seed catalog I
visited there were 42 sunflower choices.

Farmers in the U.S. started growing sunflowers commercially after WWII
because of their many uses. The commercial crop consists of two types of
seeds; confection and oilseeds. The confection seeds are used in baked
goods, trail mixes, granola, and cereal. Oilseeds produce a citron-yellow
oil pressed from the seeds which is low in saturated fat and high in
polyunsaturated fats. It’s an ingredient in magazines, soaps, cosmetics,
and is also marketed as wild bird food.

Plant seeds after all danger of frost is past and chose a site in full sun.
While the sunflower is not particularly fussy about soil type it does
appreciate a well drained, loose loam soil.
The easiest way to prepare sunflower seeds for snacking is by roasting
them whole. Begin by soaking unhulled seeds in water for 8 hours. Drain
the water, spread the seeds on a shallow baking sheet, and roast at 200
degrees Fahrenheit for 3 hours, stirring occasionally until crisp.
Be sure to include one of the many varieties of sunflowers in your garden
this year, you’ll be happy you did. Not only are they fun to grow, the birds,
bees, and other pollinators will love them.

You can find more information about sunflowers at Planttalk Colorado

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