When do sunflower bloom?

Teddy Bear Sunflower Care: Tips For Growing Teddy Bear Flowers

If you love sunflowers but you lack the space for gigantic plants with plate-size blooms, teddy bear sunflower may be the perfect answer. Sunflower ‘Teddy Bear’ is a short, bushy plant with fluffy, golden-yellow blooms that appear from mid-summer to the first frost in autumn. Mature size of Teddy Bear sunflower plants is 4 to 5 feet (1.4 m.). Have we piqued your interest in growing Teddy Bear flowers? Then read on for more Teddy Bear sunflower info.

How to Grow a Teddy Bear Sunflower

Growing Teddy Bear flowers by seed isn’t complicated. The most important thing is to plant seeds where your Teddy Bear sunflower plants will be exposed to full sunlight. Well-drained soil is also an absolute requirement for any type of sunflower.

Plant Teddy Bear sunflower seeds after you’re sure all danger of frost has passed. Prepare the soil prior to planting sunflowers by digging a generous amount of compost, well-rotted manure or other organic matter into the top 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm.) of soil.

Sow seeds in groups of three to four, at a depth of ½ inch (1.25 cm.). Thin the plants to a distance of 18 to 24 inches (40-60 cm.) when the true leaves appear.

Water as needed to keep the soil moist, but not drenched, until your sunflower ‘Teddy Bear’ plants are established.

Sunflowers generally need no fertilizer. However, if your soil is poor, work a little time-release fertilizer into the soil at planting time.

Teddy Bear Sunflower Care

Once established, sunflowers are relatively drought tolerant; however, they perform best if the soil isn’t parched. As a general rule, water deeply when the soil is dry to a depth of about 2 inches (5 cm.). Avoid overwatering and soggy, poorly drained soil. If possible, water at the base of the plant, as overhead watering may promote certain plant diseases, including rust.

Pull or hoe weeds as soon as they appear. Weeds will draw moisture and nutrients away from your sunflower ‘Teddy Bear’ plant. A layer of mulch will prevent moisture evaporation and limit growth of weeds. However, be careful that the mulch doesn’t mound up against the stem, as moist mulch can promote rot.

Watch for cutworms on your Teddy Bear sunflower plants. If the infestation appears light, remove the pests by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Use a pyrethrin-based insecticide for a severe infestation. Pyrethrin-based insecticides are also effective if weevils are a problem.

Not too late to plant sunflowers for fall color

Third week in August is best time to plant

Gardeners are rediscovering dual-purpose flowers that not only make the garden beautiful but can also be used to bring the beauty of outdoors inside. One such flower is the sunflower.

It may be towards the end of summer, but you can still plant sunflowers and enjoy them during the fall. In north Florida, try to complete sunflower planting by the third week in August. Depending on the variety, sunflowers will bloom about 55 to 75 days after planting – 60 days is a good average. Some sunflowers are sensitive to day length and may yield shorter plants and earlier bloom when planted in late summer. This corresponds to the reduction in daylight hours as summer progresses toward autumn.

To begin, choose cultivars that fit your landscape. There are now more sunflowers than just the seed bearing giants that many gardeners are familiar with. Just take a look at the gardening catalogs.

Sunflowers can be broadly divided into two types: those grown for production of edible seeds and those grown as ornamentals and cut flowers. Most gardeners will be interested in the ornamental sunflowers, also known as Helianthus annuus.
Sunflowers come in heights ranging from less than one foot to ten feet and also come in a wide range of flower colors. While brilliant yellow will always be popular, you can also choose from creamy white, bronze, mahogany, rusty red, burgundy and orange. Some types produce flowers with more than one color. The center disk of the sunflower also adds to the display and goes through color changes as the flower matures and seeds form.

Sunbright, Sunrich Lemon, Sunrich Orange, Soraya and Moulin Rouge are some that are recommended for Florida.

For best bouquet results, choose cultivars that are pollen-less to prevent pollen from shedding onto a tablecloth or other flowers in an arrangement.

If you want to grow sunflowers for the delicious, nutritious seeds, make sure you choose varieties bred for seed production, such as Mammoth Russian – also known as Mammoth, Russian Giant and Gray Stripe. These tall-growing sunflowers produce a single enormous flower at the top of the plant.

To grow a really big seed head, apply general-purpose fertilizer when the flower head begins to appear. Just be sure to place them so that you can stake them if necessary.

Sunflowers are true to their name, they need to be grown in full sun. Prepare a sunflower bed as you would for planting most vegetables. They tolerate heat and dry conditions and almost any soil type. The pH preference is 6.5 to 7.5 and the addition of composted organic matter is beneficial.

Plant seeds about one-quarter inch deep directly into a prepared garden bed. It’s common to plant sunflowers into landscape beds, and many gardeners include a row of sunflowers in spring and fall vegetable gardens. After sowing the seeds, water the bed well and then water it as needed to keep the soil moist – even lightly every day if the weather is dry.

Sunflowers should be harvested in early morning before 10:00 a.m. It is best to cut the stems and place them in warm water right away for best results.

The versatility and variety of today’s sunflowers offer something for almost every garden and gardener. If you haven’t tried this plant lately, give it another look.

Theresa Friday is the Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County. The use of trade names, if used in this article, is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. It is not a guarantee, warranty, or endorsement of the product name(s) and does not signify that they are approved to the exclusion of others.

Why Is My Sunflower Not Blooming: Reasons For No Blooms On Sunflower

You planted carefully, watered well. Shoots came up and leaves. But you never got any flowers. Now you are asking: Why is my sunflower not blooming? You’ll be surprised by the variety of reasons you may have no blooms on sunflower plants. Read on for the inside scoop on sunflower blooming problems.

Why is My Sunflower Not Blooming?

Sunflowers are the cheeriest of blossoms. Their happy yellow faces turn to follow the sun’s progress across the sky. Many contain edible seeds beloved by humans and birds alike. So it’s distinctly disappointing when you have sunflower plants with no flowers, but understanding your sunflower blooming problems is the first step to solving them.

Look at growing conditions

Why, you may ask, are my sunflower plants not blooming? When you find your sunflower plants with no flowers, first take a close look at where, when and how you planted them. Improper growing conditions and culture definitely can result in no blooms on sunflowers.

Let there be light! Yes, sunlight is on the top of a sunflower’s “must-have” list. Sunflower plants with no flowers can result if you site the plants in the shade. These fast-growing annuals need at least 6 hours of direct sun daily. Too little sunlight can retard flower formation, which means no blooms on sunflower plants.

In terms of cultural care, sunflowers are not terribly demanding. They do need well-draining soil, however, and moist, fertile soil also helps. Nutrient-poor, sandy soil isn’t likely to produce generous blossoms.

Examine for insects

When you see sunflower plants not blooming, you might also think of insect pests like the sunflower midge. The sunflower midge was first noticed on wild sunflowers throughout the northern Great Plains and south to Texas. But the pest has spread to areas where sunflowers are cultivated.

The adult sunflower midge is a delicate fly. It overwinters in soil as a larva to emerge in late July and lay its eggs on clusters of developing sunflower buds. You’ll find them either underneath the bud bracts or in the bud center.

Two days after the eggs are laid, larvae hatch out. They develop inside the sunflower buds, feeding on them. The buds appear to swell from all the larvae activity. However, the flower head may be damaged to such an extent that you find no blooms on sunflower plants infected.

Your best bets for limiting sunflower blooming problems from these midge is to spread out the budding dates of your plants over a wide range. The damage varies depending on budding dates. Also, select cultivars that tolerate midge damage.

The Early Russian sunflower’s head starting to tilt to the side, showing that it’s beginning to bloom

Sunflowers are really cool plants to grow. In the growing stage, they just keep producing leaves and stem, leaves and stem, repeatedly, until they reach the height they want to flower at. You can usually tell from the formation at the crest of the plant whether that cluster is of developing leaves, and when they’re changing to a flower bud (You can see the growing process at this post).

However, when the plant is too tall for you to peek at the top of it, there’s something else that can clue you in…

Firstly, you know how the top of a growing sunflower plant follows the movement of the sun from east to west every day? Yes it does! I haven’t looked early enough in the morning to see how it moves from facing westward to the rising sun, but it does move. Well, when you look at the plant in the evening and it’s tilted towards the east, you know the flower is about to bloom, because sunflowers face east when the flowers open up, and once they bloom, they stop following the sun.

And this was the scenario yesterday evening when I peered upwards at my Early Russian sunflower – it was “looking” in the wrong direction! I didn’t have a ladder handy, but the camera zoom showed me what I needed – a glimpse of folded petals just waiting to start unfurling.

Early Russian sunflower poised to bloom!

Another look today showed the head of the plant continuing its 90 degree tilt, and a better view of the petals starting to reveal the multitude of florets-to-be. Looks like I’ll get to share pictures of a giant sunflower with you after all! 8)

Reasons a Sunflower Plant Will Not Flower

SUNFLOWERS image by brelsbil from Fotolia.com

Big and bright, the sun-following face of a sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is a quintessential sign of summer. When a plant fails to bloom, something major prevents it, as the fast-growing sunflower’s purpose is to form a flower and set seed. Grow sunflowers when no threat of frost remains in your garden.

Lack of Sunlight

Arguably the simplest answer to why a sunflower fails to bloom is a lack of light. These fast-growing annuals relish warmth and light, performing best when they receive no less than 6 hours of direct sun daily. Too little sunlight, even bright indirect light, slows plant development and may retard formation of the flower bud at the top of the sunflower stalk.

Growing Season

Hundreds of varieties of sunflowers exist, from dwarf plants to towering ones and many with differently colored flower petals. As much as these varieties differ in physical characteristics, there may be different maturation rates, the time needed to germinate to flowering and ripening their seed heads. For example, if you plant a sunflower that takes 70 days to mature, as listed on the seed packet, and you plant the seeds only 40 days before the first fall frost, the plant will die before it completes its life cycle.

Stress

Unhealthy or stressed sunflowers will not grow robustly or perform to gardeners’ expectations. Sunflowers need a moist, fertile soil that drains well. Although tolerant of drought, nutrient-poor, sandy soils won’t provide the conditions needed for the sunflower to reach its fullest potential. Plants growing in cold or wet soils, too, possess reduced vigor and may succumb to insect pests or diseases such as fungal rot or mildew. Healthy sunflowers rarely suffer any pest or disease problems.

Flower Bud Removed

Sunflowers grow with a singular stem. At the tip of the stem develops the flower. If a young, barely visible flower bud forms at the tip and is damaged or cut off, the plant must regrow a new stem to develop another flower bud. Damage from hail, a bug or bird remains a possibility, or accidentally breaking a stem tip or toppling a sunflower when working in the garden also occurs sometimes. A new replacement flower bud stem(s) must grow from dormant buds at the base of leaves.

Flower:

Single daisy-like flower at the end of a branching stem. Flowers are 3 to 6 inches across with 17 to 40 yellow rays (petals). The center disk is larger than most sunflowers, rarely less than 1¼ inches across, the disk flowers dark reddish brown to yellow, with yellow styles.

The bracts behind the flower are in 2 or 3 layers, generally oval with a long abruptly tapered tip, and short stiff hairs around the edges. A plant typically has 1 to 12 flowers

Leaves and stems:

Leaves are 4 to 16 inches long, 2 to 8 inches wide, egg to heart-shaped to triangular with rounded angles at the base, rough-textured on both surfaces, usually toothed edges that may be a bit wavy, 3 primary veins radiating from the base, and a stalk ¾ to 8 inches long. Attachment is mostly alternate but sometimes opposite in the lowest leaves. The main stem is quite stout and covered to varying degrees in stiff hairs.

Notes:

Common Sunflower is present in all 50 states, though only native to the lower 48, and is the plant from which many cultivated sunflowers were derived. I have mostly seen it in full sun along roadsides and construction sites, where the soil is heavily disturbed and usually dry. Common Sunflower has been labeled a noxious weedy species in some agricultural areas but modern herbicides have taken care of that. Overall it resembles Prairie Sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris) which has leaves and a center disk that are proportionately much smaller.

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