GAR­DEN­ING WITH DEBBI

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - WITH DEBBI GIB­SON, HORTICULTURALIST

ADD a touch of sun­shine to your gar­den by plant­ing sun­flow­ers.

These hardy an­nu­als, na­tive to South and Cen­tral Amer­ica, are easy to grow from seed and can be sown in spring and early sum­mer, af­ter the last frosts.

Sun­flow­ers are known for their bright yel­low flow­ers but also come in other colours from white and cream, pale yel­low to bright or­ange, red and bronze.

They vary in form, with sin­gle and dou­ble flower blooms and sin­gle or mul­ti­ple flower heads.

Cul­ti­vars range in size from dwarfs which grow to less than a me­tre, to gi­ants that can grow to over 4.5m.

The cur­rent world record for the tallest sun­flower is 7.76 me­tres.

Sun­flow­ers grow from seed and don’t like be­ing trans­planted, so sow them di­rectly in the ground in the de­sired po­si­tion.

They need a fer­tile well-drain­ing soil in a sunny po­si­tion.

In fact, the more sun they re­ceive, the bet­ter they grow.

Pre­pare the soil by re­mov­ing any weeds, dig­ging in com­post or or­ganic mat­ter and rak­ing level.

Sow the seed to dou­ble the depth of the seed, about 2cm.

Don’t for­get to pro­tect the young emerg­ing seedlings from snails and slugs.

Wa­ter reg­u­larly and keep free of weeds. Mulch the soil and feed with a liq­uid fer­tiliser fort­nightly.

If grow­ing the taller va­ri­eties, stake them while young to sta­bilise the plant dur­ing strong winds and bad weather.

Con­sider grow­ing: - “Dwarf Sen­sa­tion” which has bright yel­low flow­ers and grows to around a me­tre.

- “Bronze Shades” grows up to 2 me­tres and flow­ers pro­fusely in shades of red, or­ange and bronze.

- “Prado Red” grows to 2 me­tres and has claret red flow­ers.

- “Lemon Queen” has a light yel­low flower with a dark cen­tre and grows to 2 me­tres.

- “Ital­ian White” has creamy white flow­ers with a dark eye and grows to 1.5 - 2 me­tres.

- “Dou­ble Daz­zler” has semi dou­ble yel­low flow­ers and grows to around 2 me­tres.

And if you want to try for your own world record, “Gi­ant Rus­sian” has very large, sin­gle, yel­low flow­ers which can grow up to 50cm across and four me­tres high.

Happy gar­den­ing.

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