I recently went to a sunflower farm in Pekayun, Mississippi, to cut as many flowers as I wanted. When I left the farm, I asked the owner how he dried it to get seeds for the birds. She says they have no offspring, throw them away. He was stupid! I talked to my sister, a senior gardener, and she said that in response to customer complaints about sunflowers pouring pollen on their borders, she said that the cut flower industry has developed sunflowers that do not produce pollen. These new sunflowers are barren, have no pollen and affect bees that normally visit the flowers. And no seeds mean less natural food for wild birds. She says it is very difficult to buy even pollen seeds once and most of them that grow in flower shops and stores now only use these clean sunflowers. Most people need to know this. Can you share this information with your readers? – Dana
Sunflowers that do not produce pollen have been around for many years. This is nothing new. They are particularly interested in the cut flower industry. Pollen in cut sunflowers can be dirty, and this is undesirable.
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Many other flower beds have been degraded. Non-fertilized plants do not store seeds: This increases the size of the flower (preparation of seeds weakens the flower) and prevents plants from sowing themselves and producing unwanted seeds. Again, this is not new, and it is really desirable when you grow flowers ornaments.
Most sunflowers that grow these days still produce pollen and seeds. There are large fields of sunflowers grown for sowing and eating (poultry bags for people and businesses) or for processing sunflower oil seeds. There are many varieties of sunflowers that can be sown by home gardeners. There is no need to worry about certain species that grow on cut flowers that do not produce seeds.
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Even though the cut flowers you bought were not barren, they did not produce the seeds that the birds ate. The flowers are cut at an early age. Once cut, they will not receive food from the plant needed to grow seeds successfully (and they are less likely to be contaminated by sitting in a flower pot in your home). So once the sunflowers are cut, they do not produce the seeds that the birds eat, whether they are barren or not.
Growing sunflowers, even if they are barren, do not produce seeds in the field. Seeds were cut long before they were produced. By buying cut flowers, you can say that cut flowers are losing their livestock. In this way, animals are contributing to the loss of sunflower seeds. But really, these sunflowers are not growing for the benefit of wildlife – they are growing for people like you who like to enjoy flower arrangements in their homes. In addition, although sunflowers do not produce seeds, bees, butterflies and other pollen produce nectar that can be collected and stored.
So, while your concern for pollen and birds is alarming, your alarm is not valid. Enjoy the guilt of your cut sunflowers.
I need plants to hang in hanging baskets that bloom all summer long. They will be where they are…
Something is eating on my Boston brakes. The leaves, especially in the middle, are gone, and there is debris under the plants every day. – Nanet Momenta
Your fruit can be eaten by Florida caterpillars. The debris you see under the factory is their drops. Follow the labeling instructions and spray the plants with BT pesticides (Dipl, Thuricide and other brands) or spinosad (various brands). Use scissors to cut out the worst-looking leaves. Regularly fertilize your yard with fish emulsion or commercially available fertilizer. This helps to stimulate new growth. But if there is a lot of damage, it will take some time to recover.
Dan Gill is a retired consumer horticulturist with LSU AgCenter. He will host a “Garden Show” on WWL-AM on Saturday.