Extension and Ag Research News


Dakota Gardener: Grow a bouquet in 60 days

Sunflower varieties are now available that bloom in 50 to 60 days.

By Tom Kalb, Horticulturist

NDSU Extension

Do you want to make someone happy? Grow them a bouquet of sunflowers. The bright blooms are guaranteed to bring a smile.

Sunflower varieties are now available that bloom rapidly. You can grow a bouquet in only 50 to 60 days! It is remarkable!

The ProCut series of sunflowers are varieties grown by florists. They bloom fast and are easy to grow.

ProCut sunflowers have strong stems that grow 60 to 72 inches high. Each stem has one bloom that is 4 to 6 inches across.

ProCut blooms are pollenless. This is good because it extends the life of the flower in a vase and prevents messy pollen dust from falling onto your furniture. Pollenless blooms can stay beautiful in a vase for up to two weeks in plain water.

Some gardeners worry that pollenless sunflowers do not attract bees and butterflies. This is wrong. Although these sunflowers do not have pollen, they have lots of nectar that many pollinators love.

Pollenless sunflowers will also form seeds for hungry birds if there are other sunflowers with pollen nearby.

The most popular single-stem variety is ProCut Orange. It’s a classic. The vibrant, golden orange petals contrast beautifully with the earthy, dark brown centers.

New colors are released all the time. You can grow ProCut sunflowers in shades of red, bright yellow, lemon yellow, light purple, peach, and fiery gold. The latest ProCut varieties have creamy white petals that are perfect for mixed bouquets.

Other areas of emphasis in breeding have led to the development of varieties that resist downy mildew disease and varieties with more uniform and upward facing blooms.

Sow sunflower seeds in a sunny spot after the last frost (mid-May for most of us). For single-stem varieties, space the seeds 4 to 6 inches apart, 1/2 inch deep. Thin to 6 to 12 inches. Greater spacing leads to bigger flowers and thicker stalks.

Some gardeners plant their sunflowers in beds, spacing the plants 6 x 6 inches in the bed for small blooms, and 12 x 12 inches for large blooms.

Each plant only produces one flower. You can extend the harvest of flowers through summer by sowing more ProCut seeds every two weeks or by sowing later maturing varieties such as the popular Sunrich series, which bloom 10 days later than the ProCut series. 

Another way to extend the harvest through summer is to grow branching instead of single-stem sunflowers. Branching plants will produce multiple stems and multiple flowers all summer.

Branching sunflowers take up more room so we space them about 24 inches apart. Branching sunflower plants are pinched when they are 16 inches tall to encourage side shoots with longer stems for cutting.

The best branching sunflowers in our trials include Shock-O-Lat, Moulin Rouge (Rouge Royale), Buttercream, Gold Rush and Strawberry Blonde.

Harvest sunflowers for bouquets when the flowers show the first signs of opening. The more the flower has opened when harvested, the shorter time it will last in a vase.

Grow a bouquet of sunflowers this summer. Spread some happiness to your friends and family!

For more information about gardening, contact your local NDSU Extension agent. Find the Extension office for your county at ndsu.ag/countyoffice.                                                

NDSU Agriculture Communication – Feb. 29, 2024

Source: Tom Kalb, 701-877-2585, tom.kalb@ndsu.edu

Editor: Kelli Anderson, 701-231-7006, kelli.c.anderson


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