When you hear the word helianthus, a slender, strong and persistent plant that adores the sun and follows on his heels throughout the day, seeing off its last rays during sunset, hardly comes to mind. However, you may remember that you already know this stunning flower if we call it by a different name. Yes, you understood everything correctly, helianthus is a sunflower that each of us has certainly seen at least once in our lives. Of course, many have the impression that the sunflower is exclusively the crop that they see in the vast fields. However, this is far from the case, and now helianthus is very widely used in landscape design, where, by the way, it has taken its place of honor as one of the most beautiful crops that bear fruit. In addition, do not forget that helianthus is not just a plant with which sunflower seeds are grown and sunflower oil is made. Thanks to the diligent work of breeders, it is also an incredibly popular decoration for any garden, which you will learn a lot about today.
Description of Helianthus
The sunflower has a very simple history of the origin of its name. And when we say "names", we, of course, mean his ancient Greek name Helianthus. It comes from the fusion of two words that you may even be familiar with. The first of them - means "sun", as well as the ancient Greek god who ruled over it. Well, the second, of course, means a flower. This is how the well-known name of the sun flower, or, more simply, the sunflower, appeared.
A sunflower is an incredibly unpretentious and low-maintenance crop that even the greenest beginner will be able to grow. However, sometimes even hardened and experienced gardeners start Helianthuses on their plots, because it is simply impossible to overestimate how inimitable some of their varieties are.
Also, a very important highlight of Helianthus, which allows it to remain a very popular plant, is its long existence after cutting. For about two weeks, the sunflower will retain its excellent appearance, and only after this period the flower will begin to wither and wither. This means that Gelianthus is just perfect for the role of a flower for a bouquet, especially for those who love a rustic style.
In addition, growing a sunflower is not only easy, but it is a real rest for those who are tired of following the endless whims of roses and orchids, failure to fulfill which can lead to the death of such a whimsical flower. You don't even need to take care of Helianthus day after day, because for quite a long time it can exist on its own, absolutely not needing your support. However, the way he rewards even minimal attention to his person is worth a lot, because even such a seemingly boring plant can really sparkle with new colors, being put in an interesting composition, where it may even occupy one of the dominant roles. However, of course, not all species and varieties harmonize so well with other crops, and therefore, when choosing Gelianthus for decorative cultivation, you need to pay very close attention to what plants it looks good with, and where exactly to plant it so that it truly transformed your garden. In particular, we will talk about this and not only below.
What is a decorative sunflower?
Myself sunflower, not to mention its ornamental varieties, it belongs to a rather large Aster family, which also includes a huge number of all kinds of species. There are, of course, hybrid varieties, and almost all of them are bred from one common ancestor - an ordinary wild one-year-old Helianthus. The flowers of this wild species reach a height of up to one meter, with aces the inflorescences are in the shape of a basket. Along its edges are long, bright yellow petals, which, of course, are difficult to characterize with anything other than the sun and its bright and hot rays. But in the center of the basket there are smaller leaves, having a tubular shape. When the flowering period ends, all the leaves wither and fall off, and under them is formed what for which this plant received the lion's share of its fame and popularity - seeds.
These seeds have amazing properties. Not only are they a very useful food product, the oil of which is used in a huge number of areas, but they also have phenomenal germination. Even for three years, these seeds manage to retain absolutely all their qualities, and they are still able to grow into a full-fledged Helianthus.
Varieties of Helianthus
There are quite a few types of Helianthus today. In total, breeders and those who are engaged in plant taxonomy, there are about two hundred independent species, a huge number of subspecies and an equally huge number of varieties. Moreover, it is even more shocking that all these species are used as ornamental plants. Most likely, such an interest in almost every species ensures their incredible diversity. Absolutely everyone, deciding to buy himself Gelianthus, will be able to find the variety that will be truly ideal exclusively for him. Do you want - there are miniature sunflowers. If you wish for reddish petals - no questions asked. Do you want to grow a giant sunflower? There is such a variety too! However, unfortunately, the only thing that still cannot boast of its amazing variety is the colors of the Helianthus hats. They are all, unfortunately, similar, like drops in the ocean, and only occasionally are there those that, for example, have a yellow-red gradient. However, this, nevertheless, does not prevent Helianthus from being as beautiful and attractive, sometimes giving stunning double flowers, which will certainly become an adornment of any flower bed.
However, sizes are not the only thing that breeders have put their hands on, and therefore Helianthus are found in completely different forms, of which there are immeasurable at the moment. Many varieties of sunflowers even mimic other flowers. Thus, for example, Helianthuses were bred, similar to dahlias, gerberas and even chrysanthemums. Even the petals can be round, pointed and even curly.
It is also important to note that breeders have taken care not only of connoisseurs of beauty, but also of those who have a serious allergic reaction to sunflowers. Even such people have absolutely nothing to fear, because almost all modern varieties and species are devoid of pollen, which means that they are absolutely anti-allergenic.
If we are already talking about taxonomy, then it is worth noting that most breeders divide Helianthus into three groups:
1) variegated, which have a bright or not very pronounced pattern on, of course, the leaves.
2) Californian, which have stuffed inflorescences
3) Multi-flowered, in which a large number of flowers are located along the entire stem, creating a kind of ladder.
Also, into groups, Helianthuses are distinguished by the height of the bush into giant, medium and dwarf. The first ones measure from three to two and a quarter meters. Average sunflowers have a height of no more than one and two tenths of a meter, but miniature ones can be only half a meter in height.
If it seems to you that it is very easy to get lost in all this, then you are partly right, and therefore you should contact more experienced gardeners and find out from them which variety is better if you do not want to rush into all this experience with your head. However, we still strongly recommend that you take a look at at least the shortest list of popular varieties in order to have an idea of what you will have to deal with.
Where and when to plant Helianthus?
Of course, your first thought, which, for sure, originated in your head as soon as you heard this question, is most likely the correct answer. Sunflowers are very fond of the sun, otherwise they would not have been called that. Therefore, the place for planting this plant must be chosen as illuminated as possible. Most likely, in any case, this place will be empty for you, because most ornamental crops do not tolerate direct baking rays at all. Unlike our sun-loving friend, who will gladly occupy this empty corner.
A little trick is the landing time. The fact is that the worst thing you can do is plant all the sunflowers at once. Instead, it is much more logical to plant them with an interval of a month or two, so that you have the opportunity to admire the yellow inflorescences almost from May to December.
Helianthus is the easiest and most effective plant to propagate with seeds, so it should come as no surprise that most gardeners use this method. It is recommended to plant two seeds in the hole, in case the first one does not germinate for some reason. Although, in fact, most often you worry that the seeds will not sprout, you do not have to, because the sunflower does not suffer from this. Therefore, of course, such a thing can happen that two sprouts appear. But this is a completely ordinary situation, and the second sprout just needs to be transplanted to another place. It is not necessary to deepen the seeds for planting very much: within two centimeters.
The distance between the holes, however, is not so easy to name, because it completely depends on which variety you are growing. However, whatever it may be, the distance in no case should be less than forty centimeters. Although, the limit can be neglected if the species is erect. Such Helianthuses do not branch, and therefore will not greatly interfere with each other. Of course, if the stems are lush and branched, we change the distance between the holes in the opposite direction.
It is possible, however, and the variant with the reproduction of Helianthus with the help of seedlings, however, no matter how familiar it may seem, it does not work as effectively with sunflowers as with other flowers. The fact is that this culture absolutely does not tolerate transplants.
If your choice fell on a dwarf variety, then it can even be grown in a pot at home. However, it is important to remember that sunlight is vital for a flower. And therefore, during the summer season, it is imperative to take it out either to the balcony or to the street.
Perennial Helianthus can be propagated by dividing the bush, but this operation becomes available only if the plant has reached the age of three.
How to care for decorative Helianthus?
It would seem that such a large flower should simply require a huge expenditure of effort from its owner. However, this is not at all the case, and practice has shown that how difficult it is to care for a flower is no longer indicated by its size. In fact, almost all the procedures that you will need to do during the entire life cycle of a sunflower will exhaust themselves even at the stage of planting the flower in the ground. Developed rhizomes and ancient ancestors that survived even in the harshest conditions allowed the sunflower to become practically an unafraid ornamental crop.
Perhaps the only procedure that you will need to do on an ongoing basis is self-evident watering.It is certainly necessary, and not a single flower has yet been able to show its best side without being watered at all. However, watering sunflowers is also not difficult, and the only thing you need to watch out for is that there is not too much moisture.
However, if you still want to get the most out of your sunflower that it is capable of and provide it with the brightest and most colorful flowering, you can feed the plant twice a season. Minerals are perfect for this, but the second feeding can be done with humus. However, we repeat, this is not a mandatory procedure, and feeding is carried out exclusively at the initiative of the gardener.
However, as great as this culture is, it certainly has drawbacks, and one of them is soil depletion. This means that if a sunflower has bloomed in one area or another, then next year it will be very problematic to grow at least something on the same area. But most often this, in principle, is not a problem, since Helianthuses are usually planted where no other plant simply takes root due to the direct scorching rays of the sun.
An important point in the care of Helianthus is that after the inflorescence fades, it must be disposed of. Not only does a faded inflorescence look ugly, it also takes away nutrients from those who still have a chance to give the world their beauty, and, of course, makes the plant heavier. By the way, speaking of heaviness, especially large varieties of sunflowers definitely need support.
It is equally important to mention the wintering of the sunflower. After all, not everyone enjoys planting seeds every year. Of course, you want a healthy and mature plant to greet you in the spring. However, in order for this to happen, it is necessary to provide Helianthus with a good shelter that can protect him from cold and frost. Otherwise, caring for a perennial sunflower is exactly the same as caring for annual individuals.
We hope that now you do not need to be convinced that a sunflower is a really beautiful and unique plant, which will find a place in absolutely every garden, and not just somewhere in the field. It is not without reason that this yellow flower has been giving people its bright, like the sun itself, flowering for many centuries, and we are sure that it will continue to do this for a very long time. And we just have to wish you good luck in growing this flower, unique in its amazing simplicity.