But which variety is the most rewarding and puts on the best show? Well, this year a few dedicated clients attending our Reading regional centre’s Tuesday group, along with horticultural therapist Michele, conducted a trial to grow a range of different varieties to find out.
All the sunflowers selected were chosen for being low growing due to the exposed nature of our allotment field.
The trial started in April with seeds from five varieties being sown in pots in our glasshouse, and on 28th May the emerging plants went into their outdoor bed. The varieties were Babyface F1, Elite Sun F1, Firecracker, Irish Eyes and Sensation.
Client gardeners, aka the Sunflower Team, conducted a weekly assessment to record their progress and determine how floriferous they were. They also did dead-heading and made sure the bed was weeded and watered.
At the end of the growing season, after months of monitoring and care, it was time to pick a favourite and the one which won the most votes was …. Firecracker.
Firecracker lived up to its name and the consensus was that it stood up well to the rain and wind and had a long flowering season.
We’re already looking forward to next summer’s sunflower show. If you fancy coming to have a look at our client gardeners’ fantastic sunflower displays, keep an eye out for dates for next year’s open gardens.