- Author: Kathy Low
I know this post will ultimately make a lot of you cringe at what I do. But just as art is in the eye of the beholder, the joy of gardening, whether done the right way or the wrong way, is in the hands of the individual. And as individuals, we often do things differently.
There are proper ways to stunt or control plant height and growth practiced by greenhouse growers. These methods employ either use of either a chemical plant growth retardant (http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/HO/HO-248-W.pdf), or environmental or cultural control methods (http://extension.umass.edu/floriculture/fact-sheets/controlling-plant-height-without-chemicals). But what I’m writing about below is not the proper way to do things, but it’s what I do to suit my needs. So here goes.
For years I grew rows of Mammoth Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) in my backyard simply because the flowers are so cheerful. I love the structure of a sunflower, and don’t really care about the size of the flower or the seeds. But a few years ago when my neighbor stopped plowing my backyard for me because he stopped farming, I reached the point where I was tired of digging up the enormous sunflower plants and chopping up the thick ten to twelve foot stalks at the end of each season. I decided it wasn’t worth the physical effort to grow them in my backyard anymore.
So the last couple years I’ve been planting sunflower seeds in impromptu planters. No, not the seeds for dwarf sunflowers, but the seeds for full sized sunflowers. Why don’t I just plant the seeds for dwarf sunflowers? Two simple reasons: cost and availability. I can always buy a packet of sunflower seeds for a quarter or less at my local dollar store. The dwarf sunflower seeds, which produce beautiful lush plants and flowers, are more expensive and I usually have to hunt for the seeds at local retailers or end up purchasing them through the mail.
By planting the seeds for full sized sunflowers in planters, I intentionally stunt their growth so that I end up with miniature, albeit not the healthiest looking plants. But the plants take up little space and the baby sunflowers still make me smile. And since earlier this year a friend sent me some steaks that the company shipped in styrofoam coolers, I decided to recycle the bottoms of the coolers and turn them into planters. So I punched holes in the bottom of them, added some soil, and the photos below show my stunted sunflower plants which are just starting to bloom.
If you want to grow sunflowers in planters, you should purchase dwarf sunflower seeds suited for container gardening. The reason I shared with you what I do is to illustrate you should never be afraid to experiment in your gardening, be it trying a new method, or growing something you’ve never grown before. Adapt your gardening practices to meet your own needs. And regardless of whether something turns out right or wrong, gardening should always bring you joy. So have fun in your garden!
- Author: Trisha Rose
Well, I am trying again to grow sunflowers. Here is my result so far. Skinny little bits, hardly a flower at all and very slow incoming. I've thinned out the starts now 3 times, to give the stronger sprouts more space. We'll have to see if they ever take off.
On the other hand here is my volunteer that showed up in the middle of the garden path. Oh well, at least there is one sunflower in the garden.