“In the Yard” column for March 29, 2013

Photo provided by ALLEN OWINGS -- These sunflowers grew last year at the LSU AgCenter's Hammond Research Center.
Photo provided by ALLEN OWINGS -- These sunflowers grew last year at the LSU AgCenter's Hammond Research Center.

in the yard

Sunflowers are a great way to introduce children to gardening.

Depending on the variety, sunflowers grow to heights between 1 foot to 8 feet, said LSU horticulturist Allen Owings.

Sixty days is a good average time from planting the seed to getting blooms, Owings said. Seed to bloom can vary from 55 to 75 days. Read the seed packet.

Sow sunflower seeds in a prepared bed that gets full sun after the danger of frost has passed. Last frost ranges from late March in South Louisiana to early April in North Louisiana.

Include a row of sunflowers in your spring/summer vegetable garden. If your garden site gets most of its direct sun from one side, plant tall varieties of sunflowers on the side of the garden away from the sun so the sunflowers don’t block sun from shorter plants.

Along a fence is a popular place to plant sunflowers. Sunflower blooms come in brilliant yellow, creamy white, bronze, mahogany, rusty red, burgundy and orange.

Teddy Bear produces flowers full of petals but no central disk. The dwarf variety Big Smile does well in Louisiana.

Sunflowers grown for cut flowers produce more flowers on a bushy plant. Sunflowers grown for seed generally produce a single large head.

As a very general rule, the larger the seed the deeper you may plant it. Again, read the packet.

Ed Cullen

Advocate staff writer