Ad Spot

Big, beautiful sunflowers brighten area summer gardens

I have seen some beautiful sunflowers this summer. Big and small, short and tall. There are over 60 varieties of sunflowers. They are native to the Americas and were exported around 1500. The common sunflower is Helianthus annuus.

USDA figures for 2014 show that there were 1.7 million acres of sunflowers planted in the United States that year with the most in North Dakota. The most common uses for sunflowers and their seeds are sunflower oil, wild bird food and livestock forage. They also act as a natural decontaminator of soil. They remove toxins such as lead, arsenic and uranium. They have been used at environmental disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Many people think it is a myth that sunflowers turn to face the sun throughout the day. The fact is that this only occurs at the bud stage. The process is called heliotropism. Once the flower is in full bloom it no longer turns.

I have seen many claims regarding the record for the tallest and largest sunflower. According to the National Sunflower Association, the record for the tallest is 25 feet, 5.4 inches. The largest sunflower head is 32 inches. Both records are sourced to the 2004 Guinness World Records.

Sunflowers are easy to grow. They like fertile soil and adequate moisture but otherwise adapt to most growing conditions. They like space, the further apart you plant them the larger the stem and flower will be. They are best started in the ground rather than in seed trays. This is because they make a central tap root that likes to grow straight down and they grow better when undisturbed. Plant a few weeks beyond the average last frost date in the spring. You can continue to plant throughout the summer up to 75 days before the average first frost date. A good source for information and seeds is sunflowerselections.com.

I hope everyone enjoyed the crape myrtle festival. Remove faded flowers now to encourage a second blooming.

The Natchez Downtown Farmer’s Market is open from 8:00 a.m.-noon on Saturdays on the 100 block of South Commerce. There are fresh goods including peaches, carrots, blueberries, microgreens, eggs, lettuce, mushrooms and more. There are also baked goods and arts and crafts from local vendors.

Happy summer!

Email your questions or comments to me at newsroom@natchezdemocrat.com.

Karen O’Neal is an Adams County Master Gardener. She writes a monthly column for The Natchez Democrat.

News

Leap Day unique for local anniversaries, birthdays

News

Community heartbroken over death of former classmate, star quarterback

News

Absentee voting underway for Mississippi presidential and congressional primaries

News

Celebrating Black History: Natchez resident describes Parchman Ordeal experience

News

Celebrating Black History: Local museum adds unique dimension to Natchez story

News

Celebrating Black History: Forks of Road tells story of second largest slave market in the South

News

Signing off: Rosco on the Radio retiring after 30 years

News

Bandits take iron from graveyards

News

Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration starts today with Faulkner film

News

Weekend Ticket: Black history parade is Saturday in Natchez

News

3 more accused in shooting of Alcorn State students

News

Two arrested in connection with December shooting

News

Margaret Martin to get repairs ahead of May music festival

BREAKING NEWS

Natchez man killed in Wednesday morning wreck on I-55 near McComb

News

One last bling: Students turn campus into Mardi Gras celebration

News

Community members polled on issues facing state

News

No bond set for double murder suspect

News

Cathedral junior wins Silver Key Award for essay writing

News

Stahlman remembered for his love of community, family

News

Pets of the Week

News

Party Packs: Vidalia Lower Elementary students pack in last of Mardi Gras fun

News

Suicide awareness forum Thursday

News

TV investigative series focuses on murder suspect with Natchez ties 

News

Krewe of ‘Good Times’ lets the good times roll