Great big fluffy golden heads the size of a dinner plate. This whopper of a sunflower has the same stunning densely packed yellow petals as the beloved dwarf 'Teddy Bear' sunflower but on a far larger scale. Some claim that the flower heads can reach over 25cm (10in) in size, but we are more than happy with the more usual 18 to 20cm (7 to 8in) that we achieve.
Giant Double Sungold is great for making a backdrop to smaller sunflower varieties. It can even be used to create a temporary garden screen, perhaps to hide that shed that will be painted 'next year'.
The fully double blooms last much longer than single flowered sunflower varieties and the plants will continue to bloom up until first frosts. They make excellent cut flowers, long lasting and are very impressive in a vase.
Helianthus annuus "Giant Sungold" is a Fleuroselect Award Winner.
Starting early in pots: Feb to March
For early flowers, start indoors as early as February or March, to germinate in about 10 days at 60 - 65°F. Plant out in April or May.
Use 7.5cm (3in) pots and a good sowing compost. Sow one seed 2.5mm (1in) deep per pot. Water and cover with either polythene or bubble plastic to retain the heat, or place pots on a heated bench or in a propagator with the temperature set at 13°C (55°F).
Remove the covers when the leaves appear. Plant seedlings outside when they are large enough to be handled and the root system is well developed. Add garden compost to the soil if it is heavy or infertile.
Direct planting: April to May
Plant outside as early as possible to miss heavy frosts, to germinate in about 1 - 3 weeks, in mid-April through mid-May. Sow seed 5cm (2in) deep and spaced 45cm (18in) apart in borders. Water seedlings regularly and, when growing tall forms, feed sparingly with a liquid fertiliser when 60cm (2ft) high. Over-fertilization can cause stem breakage in the autumn. Avoid splashing water or fertiliser solution on the stems or leaves.
Harvesting Cut Flowers:
For continuity, sow a succession of sunflowers every fortnight for six weeks in the early part of the growing season. In a hot summer, each cycle from sowing to blooming will take about 60 days.
For the vase, cut the fresh flowers in the morning just after they open, but wait until the sun has dried the dew. Remove leaves that are low on the stem, leaving just two or three higher up, near the flower's face. Place the flowers in a bucket filled with water, and leave them to stand for several hours in a cool room before placing in a vase.
Use a clean knife, a clean vase and a few drops of bleach in the water to keep it fresh. Change the water every few days. Blooms can last up to a fortnight when kept in water.
Beware of slugs when they are still young plants and birds stealing the seeds.
To dry sunflower seeds, cut the heads off when they begin to yellow at the back and hang them upside down in a dry location away from rodents and birds. Once dry, rub the seeds off and soak overnight in 4 litres 1 gal) of water with 1 cup of salt in it. Dry in a 250*F oven for 4-5 hours and store in an airtight container. The black-seeded varieties are mainly for oil and birdseed. The grey and white-striped varieties are for drying and eating.
The Latin name for Sunflower, Helianthus annuus, is taken from the Greek helios, meaning sun, and anthos, meaning flower.
The Sunflower originated from South America and represented the sun to worshiping Aztec people; it was brought to Europe in the late sixteenth century.
Today the Sunflower is grown in the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, Argentina, India and the USA.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 2 grams Average Seed Count 75 Seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Helianthus Species annuus Cultivar Sungold Common Name Tall Double Sunflower Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers Golden yellow in Midsummer to Early Autumn Height 150-190cm (60-72in) in the garden Spacing 40cm (16in) Position Full Sun to Partial Shade Germination 5 to 21 days