Lifestyle

How to turn the sunflower towards you

You probably remember from school that sunflowers follow the sun. You may not remember that this behavior is called heliotropism. Sunflower babies twist at night to face the first rays of the morning sun, and during the day they turn their heads to follow the sun’s path, maximizing photosynthesis and empowering growth.

That’s not all. As plants begin to mature, they turn due east and stay there, warming up before nearby plants and attracting the first pollinators in the morning. Things to remember when you plant them: How depressing it is for them to grow up and turn their backs on you.

Sunflowers at Lumbly Nursery in Ascot, Victoria.credit:Robin Powell

Heliotropism isn’t the only reason the sunflower is a favorite plant for junior science teachers. Its huge head is not a single flower, but a collection of small florets surrounded by many petals. Sunflowers typically follow the Fibonacci sequence, with 1000 to 4000 florets packed into the head in a spiral that fits the most florets in the smallest space.

Sunflower is also a phytoremediator. That is, plants that remove toxins from the soil. Their gold medal performance in this field was at Chernobyl, where sunflower fields took up radioactive metals from the soil and stored them in tissues. filled in a container.

So why didn’t people repeat the Fukushima show? Was it planted too soon after the accident? Was there something wrong with the soil profile or the varieties planted there? .

Sunflowers face the sun to get what they need.

Sunflowers face the sun to get what they need.credit:Robin Powell

In central Victoria, geneticist Keith White studies sunflowers. While White has spent most of his career breeding new crops such as canola, decades ago he began working primarily with sunflowers for the cut flower industry. His Copsley His Ornamentals FleuroSun sunflowers have no pollen. This is an important requirement for any florist who doesn’t want to stain the linen they hire, or worse, the bride’s dress. As a bonus, pollen-free flowers last much longer in vases and gardens.

White’s close neighbor, botanist David Glenn, grows a selection of FleuroSun sunflowers in his garden at Lumbly Nursery. Sunflowers attract enthusiastic human and insect visitors (they do not produce pollen, but they do produce nectar, so they are a food source). insect).

Glenn sows every few weeks from October to January, producing multi-month long sunflowers in colors ranging from soft lemon to dark burgundy. We grow and sell varieties that produce many flowers, not varieties that produce a single flower on a single stem. Each plant produces 40 to 50 flowers, some of which are a good size for potting, so gardeners on balconies and courtyards can’t miss them.

In Sydney, you can now plant all kinds of sunflowers and have them bloom in about 10 weeks. Sunflowers are best sown where they will grow. Choose a location that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day. And don’t forget to consider which direction the sun is coming from!

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How to turn the sunflower towards you

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