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Ornamental sunflower, or helianthus, is an unpretentious herbaceous annual from the Astrovye family, the varietal variety of which has more than 150 items. The seeds of this flower, in contrast to its sowing "namesake", are not eaten. It is famous for other things - for its decorative qualities, decorating hedges, flower beds and front gardens, decorated in country style, or creating a cozy atmosphere, blooming in a container on the window of a city apartment. In addition, the decorative sunflower looks great in bouquets. Gelianthus is unpretentious and requires minimal maintenance, so even a novice florist can easily grow bright little "suns" of the desired shade, shape and height on the windowsill or in the garden.
Description of decorative sunflowers
The homeland of the decorative sunflower is considered to be southern Mexico. Today this plant is successfully grown all over the world. A huge number of its varieties differ in a rich palette of colors, a variety of shapes and sizes of petals, the diameter of the inflorescences, and the height of the stems.
All kinds of decorative sunflowers combine the following features:
- large, bright, beautiful flowers that are invariably eye-catching;
- multi-petal inflorescence-basket;
- dense, strong stem, covered with a small amount of bristly pubescent, wrinkled rigid leaves, located opposite or alternately;
- fruits - small oblong seeds in a dense outer shell;
- delicate pleasant aroma;
- ease of reproduction;
- long flowering - from mid-summer until autumn frosts;
- unpretentious care.
Important! As a rule, decorative sunflowers are annuals. It happens that perennial species of helianthus (for example, yellow Jerusalem artichoke) also become decoration of flower beds, but most often, under the name "decorative sunflower" they mean just a seasonal annual plant.
Ornamental sunflower is a charming bright annual flower that grows equally well both in an outdoor front garden and in a flowerpot on a sunny window
All varieties of this flower, so beloved by landscape designers and florists, can be grouped according to various criteria.
So, if we put the height of the plant as the basis for the classification, then it will turn out to highlight the following decorative sunflowers:
- giant, the stems of which grow up to 2-3 m;
- medium-sized, 1-1.5 m in height;
- low, from 0.6 to 1 m;
- compact, not exceeding half a meter in height.
In the form of inflorescences, helianthus are:
The petals of decorative sunflowers can be long and short, thin and thick. Depending on their shape, one can also distinguish:
The size of the inflorescences varies from 5 to 50 cm. The stems are straight and branched, each of them can have from 1 to 10 flowers.
Inflorescences of decorative sunflowers can be monochromatic or painted in two or more colors. The outer petals can contrast with the middle or be combined with it tone on tone.
Most often, shades of such colors are present in the coloring of decorative sunflowers:
Varieties of decorative sunflowers
Specific examples will help to visualize the variety of decorative sunflowers. It is worth dwelling in more detail on a brief description of the most common varieties.
Dwarf Sungold or Teddy Bear (Bear, Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear) is one of the most popular low varieties of ornamental sunflower in domestic gardens. On compact (0.4-0.6 m) stems there are densely double flowers 10-20 cm in diameter. Outwardly, they resemble fluffy fur pompons of yellow-orange color, the middle of which is almost invisible. They are planted one at a time and in groups. Often used in mixborders, ridges, alpine slides, for decorating fences and buildings in the interior of the "rural landscape". Grows in pots on sunny balconies. Looks great when cut.
The flowers of the terry variety Bear Cub look like fluffy yellow-orange pompons
Vanilla Ice, or Vanilla Ice, is a very beautiful ornamental sunflower variety that is most often grown for bouquets. Simple inflorescences on tall one and a half meter stems have delicate pale yellow petals, contrasting with a large dark brown heart. This variety is often planted in flower borders. It also looks good on potted patios.
Delicate inflorescences of Vanilla Ice look great in bouquets
Moulin Rouge refers to the decorative red sunflowers. Its height is 1-1.5 m, the shape of the basket is simple, and the color of the petals is rich beetroot-burgundy, with a transition from lighter edges to a dark center. He acts as an excellent soloist in the background of a multi-tiered border or flower bed. Very effective in cutting.
The uneven coloring of the beetroot-burgundy petals of the Moulin Rouge resembles a velvet theater curtain
Somewhat similar to the previous variety, however, it belongs to the giant (about 2 m in height). On thick massive stems are red-brown flowers with a dark center and contrasting yellow "tongues" along the outer edge of each petal. The diameter of the inflorescences of this decorative sunflower is 20-30 cm. The variety is very good at decorating hedges and creating flower walls.
Bright, fiery flowers of the tall variety Krasno Solnyshko are perfect for hedges.
Giant Kong is the highest variety of ornamental sunflower: its stems reach 5 meters in height. Bright yellow flowers with a dark center beautifully set off large dark green leaves. Looks great in a hedge.
Giant Kong is the tallest of the ornamental sunflowers
Pacino is a group of dwarf ornamental sunflower varieties, the height of which does not exceed 0.4 m. Each stem forms many shoots, which hold simple inflorescences. Their color depends on the variety. Pacino-Cola has golden petals combined with a brown center. Pacino-Gold has a greenish flower center. For Pacino-Lemon, lemon-yellow petals and a yellowish-green core are characteristic. Often a mix of these varieties is planted on flower beds. Grows well in pots.
Pacino-Cola is one of the varieties of decorative sunflower of the Pacino dwarf group
Music Box, or Music Box, are undersized (up to 0.4 m) branched decorative sunflowers, the variegated petals of which are painted in bright yellow, golden and reddish-brown tones. Used in group plantings, flower beds and flower beds. Good for cutting.
Music Box - undersized variegated sunflowers that look great in a group
When to plant decorative sunflowers
In most regions of the country, decorative sunflower seeds are sown directly into open ground when it warms up enough and the air temperature does not drop below + 10-12 ° C. This usually happens in late April or early May.
Advice! If a gardener wants to get a bed of continuous flowering of helianthus, he should sow the seeds not at the same time, but in groups, at intervals of 7-14 days until mid-July.
In regions with a harsh climate (in the Far East, the Urals, in Siberia), it is also possible to grow a decorative sunflower in the garden, but for this it is advisable to resort to the seedling method. Seeds are sown in small pots and placed on a lighted window, periodically watering. Seedlings begin to germinate about a month before the date of their intended planting on the site.
When growing a decorative sunflower at home, it is best to sow 2-3 seeds in small containers at the very beginning of spring. After a couple of weeks, after the emergence of shoots, you need to leave the strongest seedling in the pot, and at the beginning of summer, transplant it into a box or flowerpot that is suitable in size.
Planting and caring for a decorative sunflower in the open field
Ornamental sunflower does not belong to capricious plants in need of constant care and supervision. However, he also has preferences regarding planting and grooming that should not be overlooked.
Selection and preparation of the landing site
A plot with the following characteristics is best suited for growing a decorative sunflower:
- abundantly and brightly lit;
- protected from strong winds;
- with fertile, light and moist soil, ideally sandy loam;
- the soil should be well drained, excluding stagnation of water at the roots.
Warning! In areas with high soil acidity or high salt content, annual ornamental sunflowers will not be able to grow.
It is best to prepare a place for planting helianthus in the fall. It is recommended to manually remove dry foliage, stems and rhizomes of plants from the site, and then dig up the soil to the depth of one shovel bayonet. In parallel, it is recommended to enrich it with organic fertilizers or ready-made complex formulations.
Most often, the seeds of an ornamental sunflower are planted in open ground, although the seedling method is also practiced in cold regions.
The day before planting in the ground, the seeds of an ornamental sunflower should be prepared. To do this, it is necessary to prepare a solution of wood ash (1 tbsp. L. Per 0.5 l of water) and abundantly wet a cotton napkin in it. The seeds of a decorative sunflower must be wrapped in this cloth and left for 24 hours, as they dry up, additionally moistening it with a solution.
After that, you can land:
- On the site, you should dig holes about 6 cm deep. It is advisable to leave a distance of 70-80 cm between the rows, and 30-70 cm between the holes in one groove, depending on whether the variety is compact or large.
- In each hole, you need to put 2-3 seeds of a decorative sunflower and slightly deepen them (but not more than 3 cm).
- After sowing, the bed should be rolled a little.
The first shoots can be seen in approximately 6-10 days.
Watering and feeding
Ornamental sunflower loves abundant and regular watering, but moisture should not stagnate. Usually it is watered once a week, in a dry period - a little more often. After each moistening, the soil must be loosened, at the same time getting rid of weeds.
If the seeds were planted in fertile soil, then fertilizing the planting of decorative sunflowers is not necessary. In the event that the soil is poor, it is worth feeding the plants with organic matter or complex compounds at the beginning of growth.
Advice! It is advisable to regularly remove wilted inflorescences of decorative sunflowers. This will help maintain the neat appearance of the flower garden, as well as stimulate the emergence of new flower buds.
Reproduction of decorative sunflowers
The decorative sunflower is propagated by growing from seeds. Collecting them yourself is not difficult. The inflorescences from which it is planned to get a "harvest", at the stage of seed ripening, must be carefully tied with gauze or light netting, protecting them from birds. When the time comes, the heads of the decorative sunflower must be carefully cut and dried well in a ventilated area. After that, the seeds can be removed from the baskets, but not necessarily: they can be stored in dry inflorescences.
Important! The seed material of ornamental sunflower retains high germination for 5 years from the moment of harvest.
Diseases and pests of decorative sunflowers
In order for the helianthus to bloom for a long time, beautifully and abundantly, you should regularly inspect the plantings for diseases or damage by pests.
Among the most common ailments of decorative sunflowers:
- Rust. It is characterized by the appearance on the leaves and stems of numerous orange pustules with fungal spores, which ripen and burst, infecting new plants. The young foliage of the decorative sunflower dies off prematurely, the baskets do not have time to develop. The source of infection is plant debris, as well as cocklebur weed, susceptible to this disease. Timely weeding and loosening of the soil contributes to the prevention of disease. Rust is treated with fungicides (Ultrafit).
Rust is characterized by the appearance of numerous orange pustules on the leaves.
- White rot. Fungal disease that affects all organs of the ornamental sunflower. With a root form, the processes soften and get wet, a white bloom appears on them. The stem form is manifested by brown-gray spots on the surface of the stems, they quickly grind and break. Their core dries out, and mycelium develops in the resulting voids. In the basket-shaped form, light brown spots with a white bloom appear on the back of the inflorescences, which lose their shape and dry with the seeds. Spreads in high humidity. Prevention - compliance with the rules of agricultural technology during planting and care, timely loosening of the soil, harvesting plant residues. Treatment - treatment with fungicides (Pictor, Rovral) during the growing season.
White rot affects roots, stem and seed buds
- Downy mildew. Often carried by pests (aphids, scale insects, scale insects). It affects the leaves, on the outside of which dark spots appear, and on the inside - a white bloom. Plants change color, lag behind in development and growth. Thickened plantings should be thinned out, removed the affected areas using sterile instruments. Further, decorative sunflowers need to be sprayed with an aqueous solution of copper sulfate (3 g per 1 l) with the addition of laundry soap steamed in boiling water and cooled wood ash (350 g per 1 l), or with chemicals (Fitosporin-M, Previkur).
White bloom on the back of a leaf can be a sign of downy mildew.
Often, plantings of decorative sunflowers (especially those near which their industrial "brother" grows) suffer from broomrape. It is a flowering plant that does not have its own roots. It parasitizes the sunflower, inhibiting its development and slowing down its growth, increases its vulnerability to fungal diseases. It is advised to give preference to broomrape-resistant varieties. Affected plants should be dug up and destroyed, and the soil on the site should be treated with herbicides 20 cm deep.
Infectious Disease - a plant-parasite, thoroughly damaging sunflowers
The dangerous enemy of the decorative sunflower is aphid. The leaves, flowers and buds affected by it turn yellow and curl, on the seamy part of them you can see sticky secretions of insects. With a weak lesion, treatment of plants with soapy water will help. If there are a lot of parasites, insecticidal preparations should be used (Actellik, Bison, Iskra, Biotlin, Commander).
Curled and yellowed leaves, possibly affected by aphids
Photo of decorative sunflowers
Decorative sunflowers are an excellent material for creating unique compositions in landscape design. They also look great in pots on windows or balconies, as well as cut in bouquets.
Bright, colorful sunflowers form magnificent hedges
If you sow seeds in groups with an interval of 1-2 weeks, you can get a continuously blooming flower bed.
Tall varieties look great in the background of a flower garden
A country-style plot is unthinkable without decorative sunflowers
Planting with terry varieties of helianthus looks very impressive
A bouquet of cut sunflowers in a vase will wonderfully decorate the room
An ornamental sunflower is an unpretentious annual plant with large beautiful flowers that grows equally well in an open-air flowerbed and indoors on a sunny window. The variety of varieties, shapes and colors of helianthus is amazing, and caring for it is not difficult. When the seeds are planted in fertile, light and well-drained soil, watered regularly and fertilized as needed, the charming bright flowers will brighten a room or garden from July to October.