About Early 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. The Heliopsis genus name means “appearance of the sun,” while the species name “helianthoides” means “like a sunflower,” referring to the fact that these flowers are not actually true sunflowers but closely resemble them.
Early 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 well to rocky or clay soil.
Growing Early Sunflower Seeds: This plant tolerates drought, though it flourishes with regular moisture. It does not spread by rhizomes, though it will self-seed readily. 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. This plant attracts bees and butterflies.
Harvesting Early 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 Early Sunflower Seeds: After their petals drop off, the centers of the flowers will darken and develop tight cones containing mature, dark 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. Shake or crush the dried heads to separate the seed from the chaff. Store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Early Sunflower Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: False Sunflower, Rough Heliopsis, Orange Sunflower, Smooth Ox-Eye Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 36-48 inches Spacing: 18-24 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 4a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 6,000 Produces coarse, toothed leaves and 3-4" yellow daisy-like flowers.