Sunflowers are best sown direct where they will grow, but need protection from snails and slugs until they get going. So I used some Quash. I had mixed results with the seeds - none of the Moulin Rouge came up at all. The others did, though not all of them. As the sunflowers started to get tall, I tied them to the trellis. Figuring they'd get to about 2m, which is just above the height of the trellis, as my sunflowers usually do, I figured that would work just fine. But this year it's different!
One of the sunflowers just kept going and going and going! When storms swept NZ, I was worried I would lose it before I ever got to see how bit it would go, so I attached bamboo poles to the upper part of the trellis with cable ties, and put a set of steps next to the trellis so I could climb up and secure the sunflower. I did the same for some of the others who were now above the trellis too. The pole would take it to almost 3.5m. Wouldn't likely need that much of course....or would I?
The storms blew, all the sunflower survived. And my triffid kept growing. And growing..
Finally, one day the flower began to open and the stem stopped growing....I'd climbed up on a ladder a few times to add more ties, but it was now beyond my safe reach even with that. And how was I going to measure it?
Evenutally I figured out I could tie a tapemeasure to another bamboo pole, lift it up and measure from the top of the sunflower to the top of the trellis, then add on the height of the trellis. Total - 3.85m!!
This pic was snapped by my husband using me for "scale" - intended only to show a friend, but she insisted everyone else would like to see it too. :-)
In the future, I'd like to grow some more giant sunflowers in front of the tallest part of the house, secured to a purpose-yet-to-be-built trellis (waiting for my husband to finish renovating and painting the outside of the house before I tell him about that little project. ;-)). But in the main garden, I'd love to grow lots of sunflowers with large, multiple heads about 2m tall (so I can easily tie them, and cover the seed heads from the birds). Now to find that perfect variety......
- They are highly attractive to bees, ladybugs and butterflies
- They serve as handy living stakes to grow beans up
- They produce a large amount of biomass for composting
- They have almost no pest issues (once they get a bit of size - baby seedlings are prey to slugs/snails)
- The seeds can be used as food for humans, chickens, and birds
- They look really cool
- They are cheerful
- Children love them
- There are lots of varieties and colours to try
- They are easy to save seed from (you just have to protect the maturing heads from the birds)
- They're a great talking point