On this post we are going to look at sunflower varieties and how to harvest sunflower seeds. Below is the basic information about the plant.

The botanical name: The botanical name is Helianthus annuus

The common name: The common name is Sunflower

Plant hardiness zones: Ordinarily sunflowers are annuals, so they do not have a United States Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone rating.

The plant sun exposure: For the best flowering, plant the sunflowers in full sun.

The bloom time: A lot of sunflower varieties start to bloom in mid-summer and they will continue for several weeks. Although fall is really a bigger season for sunflowers than summer.

Sunflower varieties to grow

There are a lot of wonderful new varieties that comes out every year. The following are some of them;

     1. Sunflower Giant Russian: Sunflower Giant Russian is a single yellow flower that can be 20" across.

    2. Teddy Bear Sunflower: Teddy Bear Sunflower is a great dwarf variety with a fluffy flower head. Teddy Bear Sunflower is nice for containers. (1 to 2 ft.)

    3. Giant Sungold Sunflower: Giant Sungold Sunflower is a taller version of Teddy bear Sunflower that grows up to 5 ft.

    4. Autumn Beauty Mix Sunflower: Autumn Beauty Mix Sunflowers are tall growers that can give you a rainbow of fall colors on large flower heads. (6 ft. or even more)

    5.  Italian White Sunflower: Italian White Sunflowers are creamy white flowers with great seeds for the bird feeder. (About 4 ft.)

    6. Prado series Sunflower: Prado series Sunflower have shades of burgundy. They are multi-flowered and early blooming, also great for cutting.

How to harvest Sunflowers

Actually the flowers will begin to mature in early fall. Immediately this happens the heads of the plant will turn downward and the florets in the center disk will shrivel. The only sure way to really tell if the sunflower seeds are ready to harvest is to pull a few out and open them. If they are actually full, it means they are ready. Make sure you don’t wait too long or squirrels and birds will harvest it for you.

To harvest the sunflower just cut the whole flower head with about 1 ft. of stem attached and hang them in a warm, dry, ventilated spot, far away from insects and rodents. You can cover the sunflower seed heads with cheesecloth or a paper bag, in other to catch loose seeds. Make sure you poke some small holes in the paper bag for ventilation. When the sunflower seeds are completely dried and ready for use, then it can be easily rubbed off from the flower head and collected.

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