About Western Sunflower: Sunflowers were named for their habit of turning their faces to the sun. At the beginning of the development they exhibit heliotropism, or following the sun in its course from east to west, though the mature blossoms usually end up facing straight east. These are said to be the happiest of flowers, and in the language of flowers they symbolize loyalty and constancy. This particular sunflower is “western” not because it originates in the American West, but rather because it grows mainly in the western nations of the United States and Europe.
Western Sunflower Germination: Direct sow in late fall, planting the seeds ˝” deep. For spring planting, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 30 days before direct sowing. To start indoors, sow seeds in a flat or individual peat pots, keeping the soil lightly moist and at a temperature of 65-70 degrees F until germination, which usually occurs within 10-20 days. Keep the seedlings moist. When the weather has warmed and the seedlings are well established, transplant outdoors. This plant adapts to a wide range of soils including shallow or rocky ground and clay.
Growing Western Sunflower Seeds: This plant tolerates drought, though it flourishes with regular moisture. It slowly spreads by rhizomes, though it does not become especially aggressive. Deadhead the flowers for prolonged blooming. Plants growing in partial shade or moist soil will reach taller than usual heights, and may need staking or support. Mature plants can be divided after several years of growth. This plant attracts bees and butterflies.
Harvesting Western Sunflower: For fresh flowers, cut long stems of flowers that have just opened and place them in water immediately; strip the leaves that will fall below the water.
Saving Western Sunflower Seeds: After their petals drop off, the centers of the flowers will darken and develop tight clusters of seed. Harvest the seed as soon as it ripens, since small birds love to eat it. Cut the heads and spread them out to dry for several days. Thresh the dried heads to separate the seed from the chaff. Store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Western Sunflower Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Few-Leaf Sunflower, Naked-Stemmed Sunflower Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Fall Height: 36-48 inches Spacing: 15-18 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium to Dry USDA Zone: 3a-9b Seeds Per Oz: 13,500 Produces a branching plant with large leaves at the base, a few small leaves on the stem, and 2-3" yellow daisy-like flowers.