June 29, 2011

Growing Sunflowers and Monsters

Only five days after I took this picture, the sunflower opened.  I'm amazed at how quickly it happened.

And the bees don't seem to mind the rate of growth...

To make it doubly better, another sunflower in the patch is also opening at about the same rate.

And then there's this behemoth in another bed...

This is what happens when you selectively weed.  My husband is standing in to give some perspective on just how big this plant is.  It's roughly 10-11' tall!  I had absolutely no idea it would get this big, and I've had other volunteers that haven't come close to the size of this one.  The bees are going absolutely ape over the flowers and pollen, and I'm sure I'll have loads of seed to collect and scatter for next year.  It would be amazing to get a wild patch of sunflower trees as wonderful as this one.  My neighbors are absolutely floored at how huge it is, and they all want seeds as well.
Tip on Identifying Volunteer Sunflowers:  When I'm weeding, I'm a bit careful with plants that I'm not certain are weeds and will allow plants to grow a bit till I know what it is.  When it comes to sunflowers, they're pretty easy to identify even as small seedlings.  They have fuzzy stems, and if you rub the stem gently, it has a very distinctive (and pretty unpleasant) smell.  If you smell it once, you won't forget it.  I haven't come across any other weed in the yard that matches/mimics this which makes it easy to keep the sunflowers and pull the rest.
I've had to cut off some of the lower leaves because they were blocking the path, and the sunflower monster is situated in between a couple aloes and is shading a few of them.  However, aloes, meh, I can replant.  I dug a few dozen pups this past spring, and I haven't found spots for all of them.  If the sunflower kills the aloes with shade, I'll plant some more.  An unearthly abomination like this doesn't come 'round too often and must be respected and appreciated, so to round this out, here are a couple more photos for some further scale and detail:

Please ignore my very dry hands!

You can see evidence of hungry bees, and while at least some of the leaves are enormous, the flowers are a bit dainty.  What the flowers lack in size, they make up in quantity!


  1. Goodness, that is a tall sunflower. I forgot to plant any this year, I wonder if it is too late to throw in some seed?

  2. keewee - I thought it was too late in the year to sow sunflowers in that patch of hell strip, but I guess I was wrong! I sowed them in May, I believe, and around here, that's pretty late in the year. They really haven't received much rain/water either which makes the situation a little more precarious. I'd say you should go for it!


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