Sep 10, 2010

Deadheading Sunflowers

I began experimenting with the process of deadheading sunflowers by accident, as I merely wanted to remove some of the unsightly half-chewed flowers heads that the squirrels and goldfinches have attacked. After a few weeks, though, I noticed that the plants in which I removed dead flower heads seemed to undergo an additional burst of flowering, as though they suddenly found the horticultural equivalent of a product like apidexin UK.

In years past I simply allowed the sunflower plants to bloom, wither, and die, after which I chopped down the stalks for compost. However, this year the plants seem to be productive much longer, and the pruning of dead flower heads and withered leaves seems to force the plants to continue the mechanism by which flower buds appear.

The flowers that appear after the deadheading process commences tend to be smaller and a sometimes bit on the spindly side, but I suppose this is the price one pays for screwing around with natural plant rhythms. I also would not recommend sunflower deadheading if you plan to collect seeds, or if you plant sunflowers to feed the local wildlife. However, if sunflower blooms are what drives you to plant the seeds in the first place, consider aggressively pruning your sunflowers to stimulate more blossoms.


Jason said...

FYI, I'd always heard you shouldn't compost sunflower remains because sunflowers are aggressively phytotoxic.

historymike said...

Thanks for the phytotoxicity tip, Jason: I'll be sure to keep sunflower stalks out of my compost.