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2015 is ‘Year of the Sunflower’ – and here are 10 incredible facts about these easy-to-grow, joyful flowers…

  • Sunflowers aren’t just pretty to look at – they’re edible too! And I don’t mean just the seeds – you can sprinkle their petals onto salads, or cook the flower heads just like globe artichokes – either once they have opened, or as buds.
  • You can sprout the seeds for a super quick, healthy snack – try sprouting hulled seeds for a crunchy harvest in a day or two, or sow un-hulled seeds for ‘micro greens’ (a bit like jumbo cress) – grow them in small trays of compost and pick after 1-2 weeks.
  • It’s a myth that the flowers turn to follow the sun – if sunflowers are grown in an open spot, the mature flowers all face east.
  • The middle of sunflower stems contains a lightweight pith that was used to fill life jackets before plastics were invented.
  • Recent breeding work means that sunflowers are not just yellow, they come in shades from near-white to black in every shade of yellow, red, orange and brown, as well as low-allergy varieties with almost no pollen.
  • Sunflowers are perfect plants for new gardens. Not only are they very quick growing, they have deep roots which will help break up compacted soil – and they will die back in autumn so you won’t have to struggle to weed them out when you want to plant something new. Organic gardening pioneer Laurence Hills recommended growing them for composting material – they’re ideal for getting a compost heap going in a new garden.
  • Sunflowers are actually ‘composite’ flowers – which means that what we think of as being just one giant flower is actually made up of up to 2,000 tiny flowers!
  • The Guinness World Record for the tallest sunflower is 8.23 m (27 ft) for a sunflower grown in Germany.

Useful links

See my previous sunflower blog

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