This beautiful impressive sunflower reaches heights of 14 feet or more!
Not only is 'Kong' very tall, but it has a branching habit, so that it produces numerous flowers over a period of time instead of just one flower per plant.
Heavy stalked and sturdy, with large, attractive dark green leaves and bright yellow flower heads with dark central disks, which are up to 20cm across. Kong is one of the most unique giant varieties on the market and the first heavily branched, multi-headed plant.
When the plant gets around 5 to 6 feet tall, nip off the top growing point. This will cause the plant to stall at that height and force all the plant resource into making flower in the leaf axils. It makes a really dense and full hedge. The thick, heavy stalks keep the plants from tipping under the load of flowers. Perfect for pollinating insects, small birds such as finches love to eat the seeds in the autumn.
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 70 days.
Sowing Indoors: Sow February to May
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 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.
Sow early May to early July
Plant outside as early as possible to miss heavy frosts, to germinate in about 1 to 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. Beware of slugs when they are still young plants and birds stealing the seeds.
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.
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 which can be eaten raw or roasted.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds or Wildflower Gardens. Children. Can also be used to create a summer windbreak.
Current Sunflower World Records:
There are three Guinness Book categories for giant sunflowers
The Tallest Plant: 776cm (25ft 5½in) tall by M Heijms Netherlands in 1986.
Measure from the ground to the highest petal on the flower.
The Largest Head: 82cm (32¼in) diameter by Emily Martin in Canada 1983.
Measure from petal tip to the opposite side petal tip.
The Most Flowers: 837 flowers on a single plant by Melvin Hemker, USA in 2001.
This is just simply the task of counting all flower heads.
It's a good idea to tag each flower as you count that branch.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 20 Seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Helianthus Species annuus Cultivar Kong Common Name Giant Branching Sunflower Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers Midsummer to Early Autumn Height to 425cm (to 14ft) Spread to 100cm (36in) Position Full Sun to Partial Shade Germination 5 to 21 days Notes Sowing to Flowering : 70 days