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This page is for questions you have about sunflowers ~ growth, history, art, whatever. I'm certainly not an expert, but I'm more than willing to do a little research. Feel free to e-mail me with questions or just leave a message on my answering machine. Please keep your questions specific ("How do I grow sunflowers?," for example, iS a bit too broad), and include your name, where you live and your growing zone (if you know it). Please note if you would like your e-mail address to be included with your name. Thanks and happy gardening!


Some of my sunflowers are leaning forward, and I am afraid they might fall over. What can I do about that? ~ Stephanie
Sunflowers do have a tendency to fall over, especially when they become weighed down with their large heads. They obviously need some support, but the question is what to use. Trellises and plastic stakes can get to be very expensive, especially if you have lots of sunflowers as I do. Fortunately you should be able to find bamboo stakes very reasonably at a nursery or a large store with a garden center, such as Home Depot. They are usually painted green and are sold in lengths up to six feet. Bamboo stakes look rather flimsy, but mine have stood up to severe thunderstorms and winds in excess of 60 miles per hour, so I can vouch for them. :-) If you are growing extremely tall sunflowers which are in need of some support you may have to buy a long piece of wood to stake it.

I have a garden variety sunflower with 12 blossoms. Is this unusual? I have never seen one with this many blossoms. ~Ron
It is true that sunflowers grown commercially only have one head ("flower"). However the wild variety of sunflower can bear 20 or more heads. Since garden sunflowers are genetically much closer to wild sunflowers than are those grown commerically, they often have several heads. However I have to say that I haven't seen any with that many heads before, either. I'll have to look around and see what I can find out on the subject.

What is the tallest sunflower record and the biggest sunflower head record? my eight year old daughter's sunflowers last year were over 22 feet tall, and we were wondering how good that was compared to the record. ~Sharon
It sounds like your daughter was born to be a record breaker! According to The Ultimate Sunflower Book by Lucy Peel, a sunflower grown by Hollander M Heijms in 1986 was recorded at the height of 25 feet five and one half inches (7.76 meters). In September of 1983, Canadian Emily Martin cultivated a sunflower with a head of 32 and one half inches (82 centimeters).
          I believe that there have been unsubstantiated claims of taller and larger sunflowers. Please be patient while I hunt down that information.

Do have any informaton on how to effectivey hull sunflower seeds on a small scale? Perhaps you know of other web sites where the process is discussed. I would even be interested in commercial techniques as it may provide insights in how to hull at home. ~Rick
I've got bad news for you, Rick: there is no easy way I know of to hull (remove the outer shell from) your own sunflower seeds. Commercial producers use machines called impact dehullers to do the job, but I'm afraid the only option open for us gardeners is to do it by hand. If anyone has any tips on how to hull seeds more easily, let me know.
          Of course, sunflower seeds are really tasty when they're roasted with the shells on (and think of all the time you save). Here are instructions for roasting sunflower seeds.

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