Sunflower 'Valentine' is an early flowering variety with great colour and habit. This mid-size variety produces pale, butter-yellow flower heads with dark centres. The blooms have rounded petals and grow to around 12cm (5in) in diameter.
The vigorous upright plants are multi-branching, and grow to around 150cm (60cm) tall, giving a very bushy appearance. They produce sturdy stems with multiple heads on from a single plant with a staggered bloom time.
A wonderful long bloomer, very uniform in growth, the long side branches that continue to provide blooms for several weeks make this a perfect cut flower. If cut when coming into bud, they will last 18 days with cut flower food.
Valentine it a 'Day Neutral' variety, its bloom time is unaffected by day length, its blooms can be scheduled to bloom early, or late in the season. The flowers bear pollen, so it is a good variety for bee forage and seed production.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Helianthus annuus 'Valentine' has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM) for reliability and good performance.
- Awarded the Fleuroselect Quality Award
Fleuroselect, the international organisation for the ornamental plants industry have awarded Helianthus annuus 'Valentine' the Fleuroselect Quality Award.
For early flowers, start indoors as early as February or March, or sow directly outdoors in in mid-April through to mid-May.
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.
Start indoors as early as February or March, to germinate in about 10 days at 60 to 65°F and 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.
Plant outside as early as possible to miss heavy frosts, to germinate in about 1 to 3 weeks, in mid-April through mid-May, after the danger of spring frost is past. Ideally, when the soil temperature has reached 13 to 16°C (55 to 60°F).
Sow the seed 5cm (2in) deep and space 45cm (18in) apart in borders. Give the plants plenty of room, especially for low-growing varieties that will branch out. Make rows about 30 inches apart. For very smaller varieties, plant closer together, around 30cm (12in) apart. You can plant multiple seeds and thin them to the strongest contenders when the plants are 15cm (6in) tall.
Experiment with plantings staggered over 5 to 6 weeks to keep enjoying continuous blooms. Water seedlings regularly and, when growing tall forms, feed sparingly with a liquid fertiliser when 60cm (2ft) high. Beware of slugs when they are still young plants and birds stealing the seeds.
Once the plant is established, water deeply though infrequently to encourage deep rooting and feed sparingly with a liquid fertiliser. Avoid splashing water or fertiliser solution on the stems or leaves. It may help to build a moat in a circle around the plant about 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) out. Over-fertilisation can cause stem breakage in the autumn especially if the heads are large.
Tall species and cultivars require support. Bamboo stakes are a good choice for any plant that has a strong, single stem and needs support for a short period of time. Remember to cap the top of the cane with any small rounded object or upturned small pot to avoid any eye injuries.
Harvesting Cut Flowers:
Handle sunflowers gently, although they may appear robust, the petals and more delicate parts may bruise. 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 gallon) of water with 1 cup of salt in it.
Dry in a low heat, 120°C (250°F) oven for 4 to 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.
A native of North America, Helianthus annuus is a member of the Asteraceae family. Sunflowers become very popular as a cultivated plant in the 18th century. The plant was initially used as on ornamental but by 1769 literature mentions sunflower cultivated by oil production. Today the sunflower is grown for crops in the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, Argentina, India and the USA.
Artists throughout history have appreciated the sunflower's unique splendor, and those of the Impressionist era were especially fixated on the flower.
Helianthus annuus 'Valentine' was bred by Dr. KovÃ¡cs of Budapest, Hungary.
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.
The species name annuus was named by Linnaeus, it was the only sunflower known to him that lived for a single season, hence it was called annuus which means 'annual', 'yearly' or 'lasting a year'.
Explanation of 'Day Length Neutral':
Plant flowering responses to day length (which is also called 'photoperiod'), can be divided into three distinct groups: short-day, long-day, and day-neutral flowering responses.
a. Short-day plants flower when night length exceeds a certain number of hours,
they induce flowers naturally as nights get longer at some point after June 21.
b. Long-day plants require a night length shorter than a specific number of hours for flower induction to occur.
Most bedding plants are 'long-day plants'. There are two categories:
• 'Facultative' long day plants flower quicker under long days.
• 'Obligate' long day plants only flower when grown under long days.
c. Day-neutral plants flower induction is unaffected by day length,
so can be grown to bloom year round either in the garden or in the greenhouse.
Helianthus annuus 'Valentine' has been awarded the Fleuroselect Quality Award. Fleuroselect is the international organisation for the ornamental plants industry. Its main activities include the testing, protecting and promoting of new flower varieties. Membership includes breeders, producers and distributors of ornamental varieties. Fleuroselect is run by the members, for the members. A small secretariat operates from the organisational headquarters currently based in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.
In order to support and stimulate the development of new ornamental varieties, Fleuroselect conducts trials of new varieties entered by members on approximately 20 private trial grounds spread across Europe. Both indoor and outdoor trials can be conducted. Through the trials, the newness, the practical use, the quality and the exclusivity of the entries are determined. Genuinely new varieties receive recognition either as Fleuroselect Novelties or Gold Medal winners. The Fleuroselect Gold Medal is awarded to innovative varieties that clearly surpass the limits in breeding and beauty. This symbolises excellence in breeding.
Many awarded varieties are widely supported and distributed by Fleuroselect members. The organisation also promotes the winners by way of press releases and displays at trade fairs and in gardens all over the world. Professional growers and hobby gardeners all over the world recognise the Fleuroselect awards as certificates of exceptional merit.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Packet Size 40 Seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Helianthus Species debilis Cultivar Valentine Common Name Sunflower, Branching Sunflower. Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers Pale Yellow in Midsummer to Early Autumn Height 120 to 150cm (48 to 60in) Spacing 40cm (16in) Position Full Sun to Partial Shade Germination 5 to 21 days