The sunflower is one of my favorite plants. They are beautiful, beneficial and they make me smile.  When I see them they remind me of the warmth of the sun and that summer is coming.  Being pretty is not their only positive trait; they are useful in many ways.

Sunflower Facts

They are an annual plant with bright yellow petals and a brown center that ripens into seeds.  A sunflower can grow to over 16 feet in height.  Most are heat and drought tolerant and very easy to grow. The seeds they produce are not only tasty but healthy for you.  They supply you a significant amount of Vitamin E, selenium and magnesium.  I love them on my salads. The flowers can also be used in bouquets and dried arrangements.

Some things to remember when growing them is they love the sun and prefer 6 to 8 hours a day.  They have deep taproots, which means they like to be planted in the ground in loose well-drained soil.  The soil should be nutrient rich or have a time release fertilizer.  I use the little time release pellets and all my plants love them.

The experiment

To begin my experiment, I put some seeds in a pot that I left inside.  I did this to protect them while they were sprouting.  After about a week inside they had grown a good bit.  Next, I put them outside in a pot right before it rained.  The combination of rain then sunshine encouraged their growth.  Each week they got taller and prettier as you can see in the pictures.  About week 4 I noticed marks on the stalk but they seemed ok and happy.  My next step was to move them to the ground as they were getting too big for the pot. I was so proud of my little sunflowers.

sunflower week 2
sunflower week 4

Crime Scene

Little did I know that a fiendish plot was afoot.  My pretty sunflowers had attracted the eye of a devious criminal.  He watched the victims from his little hole in the ground just waiting for his chance to pounce.  The anticipation was too much for him so he struck.

His first victim was bitten completely in half.  He did not care for the taste so he just left the victim mortally wounded with the leaves on the table below.  You would think after deciding the taste was not good he would leave the other one alone.  No, he had no restraint and took a bite out of the second one.  Again, the bad taste so he left the second victim bent and injured.  It was a brutal crime scene.

I came outside the next day to see the carnage.  I thought of calling in NCIS to investigate, but remembered that the sunflowers had never served in the Navy.  They never had a chance in their 4 short weeks of life.  The criminal got off scot-free, leaving no forensic evidence behind except for teeth marks on the stems.

wounded sunflower
criminal chipmunk

First Aid Didn’t Help

Though I was both shocked and saddened by the pointless attack, I did attempt first aid for the wounded sunflower. I didn’t have any sticks so I improvised and stuck some straws in the pot and tied the stalk to them. I was hoping the bent sunflower might use it for support and survive. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case. Remember, chipmunks are not the cute sweet little rodents you see in cartoons. This is proof.

I am sad that my experiment failed, but it was fun trying. Nature can be brutal sometimes, just ask the sunflowers. I will have to ponder how I could grow them again and avoid the same result. Possibly taking them in each night when they are smaller? Maybe the chipmunks won’t go for the larger plants. I am not sure. I will post again if I choose to repeat the experiment. Until then, I am off to work with other plants in my garden.

Average Cost:

$3-8 for seeds, pot, soil

I got my seed pack from Target for $1, a pot and soil from Dollar Tree for $2.  You can use pots you already have.

Where to buy:

Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Pike or local nurseries.  You can also buy online from various sites including Amazon.

Savvy Tip:

If you sprout them inside first, make sure they are by a window with lots of sunlight. To avoid a repeat of my issue, maybe put a screen around the plant when you put it outside.  This may deter critters from eating it.

Here and yonder, high and low,
Goldenrod and sunflowers glow.


–Robert Kelley Weeks