Alice had to squeeze through a crack the size of a big sunflower to get to school, each crack having a sharp spine and prickly green leaves to keep her from getting stuck.To learn the secret of growing sunflowers to record-breaking sizes and heights, I turned to Dr. Tom Heaton, the world's foremost sunflower breeder and Renee's Garden sunflower seed supplier. Tom has been breeding sunflowers for 30 years and has revolutionized the market by introducing a dazzling array of new sunflower forms and colors to the seed trade. His wholesale seed production company specializes in long-stemmed pollenless cultivars for the cut flower market and home garden. He has developed varieties in a full spectrum from burgundy and ruby red to orange, peach, apricot, bright yellow, to fiery bicolors. Most of Renee's Garden sunflower varieties are from his exuberant collection.
Fortunately for home gardeners with giant sunflower aspirations, Tom has also focused on breeding the ultimate tall competition varieties ("Giant Edible Sunzilla" and "Heirloom Titan"). Each year, Tom saves his longest stalk and largest seed head of this variety in his garage to measure against the following years. He currently prizes a 17-foot stalk and a 24 in. seed head! In this article, Tom has generously agreed to share his method of growing giants like these in your.I asked Tom why serious competitors should grow his variety instead of traditional varieties of large sunflowers like Mammoth, Russian Mammoth or California Greystripe. He explained that the seeds in Sunzilla are hybrids, developed to be uniform and consistently reliable - so that when you thin seedlings, you needn't worry that you may have just uprooted your most potentially vigorous specimen.
While older varieties often become top-heavy and fall over in wet or windy weather, Sunzilla has been selected for a strong, thick stalk to support its heavy head. In ideal growing conditions, it reaches heights of 16 feet or more and produces huge seed heads. (Source: home garden. (Source:Despite the growing popularity of new color introductions, the sunflowers that grow largest are those most of us still imagine first when thinking of sunflowers. These have tall single stalks with big flower faces of golden yellow petals and chocolate brown centers that ripen into heavy heads filled with seeds that birds will love. Sunflowers need full sun; see 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day –the more the better if you are trying to grow them to their maximum potential. Choose a well-drained location, and prepare your soil by digging an area of about 2-3 feet in circumference to a depth of about 2 feet. Sunflowers are heavy feeders and deplete the soil more than many other crops – especially if you are growing them to reach a massive height so the nutrient supply must be replenished each season. (Source:www.reneesgarden.com)