Helianthus debilis 'Italian Green Heart' produces creamy white flowers with contrasting green centres. It is one of the prettiest sunflowers varieties available.
This compact variety grows to just 100 to 120cm (3 to 4 feet) tall so is suitable for the border or can be left to add a naturalised charm to a wildlife friendly garden scheme.
A branching sunflower, 'Italian Green Heart' is hugely prolific and long-flowering; the bushy plants produce dozens of blooms throughout summer. The flowers are pollenless and are perfect for fresh, cut flower arrangements - especially if gathered while they are still in bud.
One of the best loved summer flowers, sunflower blooms are highly attractive to bees, butterflies and other pollinators and the seed heads are loved by birds especially finches. Grow them along with other taller flowers as part of a wildlife friendly garden.
Easy to grow and fast to flower, partner them with other hardy annuals, they look especially attractive alongside clouds of Ammi majus, tall purple Verbenas bonariensis or Cosmos.
For continuity of blooms, 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.
Sow indoors in early spring, at 13 to 18°C (55 to 65°F) 4 to 8 weeks before planting outside, alternatively, the seed can also be sown directly where they are to flower in mid to late spring.
For early flowers, 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. 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-fertilisation 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.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds or Wildflower Gardens, Children.
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 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, the sunflower is a member of the Asteraceae family.
The species Helianthus debilis is native to Florida, and is a butterfly magnet that is perfect for use in hot, dry and moderately saline gardens. Commonly called the 'beach' or 'cucumberleaf’ sunflower it can be found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
This is a highly salt-tolerant and drought-tolerant plant that thrives in sandy soil in full sun. In its native environment, it blooms almost year-round with daisy-like or sunflower-like flowers. Because of their year-round flowering, these plants can be especially good for brightening up the landscape during the warm and cool temperature extremes during the year. This plant is used as a garden flower. It is also good for landscaping, especially in poor, dry soils.
Pronounced hel-ee-ANTH-us DEB-bil-liss, the Latin name for Helianthus annuus, is taken from the Greek helios, meaning sun and anthos, meaning flower.
The species name debilis derives from the Latin meaning weak or debilitated, lacking in force or ability. This species is smaller and more delicate than the usual sunflower, Helianthus annuus.
Commonly called the ‘Beach Sunflower', this Florida native can be found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. A highly salt-tolerant and drought-tolerant plant that thrives in sandy soil in full sun.
The sub-species, Helianthus debilis ssp. cucumerifolius is commonly called the 'cucumberleaf’ sunflower as its leaves resemble those of the cucumber plant.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 500mg Average Seed Count 80 Seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Helianthus Species debilis ssp. cucumerifolius Cultivar Italian Green Heart Common Name Pollenless, Branching Sunflower. Other Common Names Beach Sunflower Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers Creamy white flowers with contrasting green centres Natural Flower Time Midsummer to late autumn Height 100 to 120cm (3 to 4 feet) Spacing 40cm (16in) Position Full Sun to Partial Shade Germination 5 to 21 days