It Feels Like Oklahoma! in Colorado

Harris Seed Company's new Frilly F1 sunflower variety makes a strong statement with its architectural form and impressive blooms.

Harris Seed Company’s new Frilly F1 sunflower variety makes a strong statement with its architectural form and impressive blooms.

I feel as though I’m in the cast of Oklahoma! with all of the sunflowers popping up in my backyard.

Earlier this year, the Harris Seed Company in Rochester, New York, sent me several seed varieties to test in my garden as part of the company’s seed trials.  I’ve been testing Kruger MTO Romaine lettuce, Bonanza Deep Orange marigold and Frilly F1 sunflower.  All three varieties are impressive.

Kruger MTO Romaine is tasty, attractive and uniform.  I particularly like its resistance to bolting.  Granted, like other lettuce varieties, it eventually bolted (sent up a flower stalk that went to seed), but only after enduring several weeks of over-90 –degree temperatures.

Bonanza Deep Orange is a French marigold with a compact growth habit, deep green foliage and vivid, long-lasting blooms.

Bonanza Deep Orange is a French marigold with a compact growth habit, deep green foliage and vivid, long-lasting blooms.

The marigolds began blooming at the end of June and are still pumping out 2-inch-wide, plump orange blossoms atop their lush, deep green foliage.  The long-lasting flowers are knockouts.

My favorite, however, is the Frilly F1 sunflower.  True to its name, it lends a playful air to the garden with its six-foot stalks and an explosion of vibrant flowers.  Its brown-and-yellow faces, up to 8 inches wide, began showing up just last weekend.

Watch for these varieties in the Harris Seed catalog.

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2 Comments

Filed under Plant Geekiness, Produce Dept., Whimsy

2 responses to “It Feels Like Oklahoma! in Colorado

  1. Phyllis Conley

    Will the Frilly F1 sunflower thrive in the Seattle area? If so, when should I plant?

    • Thanks for your question, Phyllis. According to Washington State University Extension at http://extension.wsu.edu, you can grow sunflowers as long as they get 6 hours of sunlight a day, so I see no reason that you couldn’t grow Frilly F1 under those conditions. I suggest that, if possible, you plant them on a slope or raised area to improve drainage. Also, be aware that because of Seattle’s moisture, sunflowers are susceptible to verticillium wilt, Sclerotina or white mold, downy mildew, rust, and powdery mildew. For information on how to help prevent these diseases, please visit the WSU Extension website. As for when to plant the seeds, you should plant them after the last average frost date because sunflowers are warm season crops. According to the University of Washington, the last average frost date for Seattle is March 22, but April 15 is a safer bet for planting, which is a month earlier than here in Colorado.

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