Garden Foundling - Sunflower

David Trammel's picture

I have a habit of letting unidentified and unexpected plants to continue to grow in my garden or around my home. Sometimes they surprise me.

I had one such plant crop up in my front flower bed. The landlord had planted roses last year, but either the heavy rains or something else has prevented them from growing back. What did sprout was a tall broad leaved plant I thought was a weed. I was just about to pull it up when the large buds on it started to open.

Guess I won't be pulling it up, lol.

My best guess is that the seed came from the bird feeder I have nearby. I had it topped for the Winter. I remember that among the seeds in it were sunflower seeds. Somehow one got out to the edge of the bed and found ideal conditions to grow.

Here is one of the buds just opening up

I have in the past planted some of the towering Mongolian Giants, but this is a much better size for my garden. I've decided to keep it watered and feed, so that later I can harvest seeds.

Here's one flower as it opens.

And more at full bloom.

Its interesting how the little stems ripen from the outside, in.

Not sure if I will get any food value out of the seeds, but I will harvest some to save and plant next year.

BTW, one of my foster cats was watching while I took photos. That her in the window.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Is there anything so cheerful as sunflowers? Now keep an eye out for goldfinches, for where there are sunflowers, there are goldfinches. They are small yellow birds, often seen in pairs. They have a typical wave like pattern to their flight.

Oh, squirrels love sunflower seeds, too. That is what eats most of the seeds from mine when I grow them. I have even read a recommendation to plant sunflowers among your corn to keep squirrels off the corn. I' skeptical; I think squirrels would just welcome the variety in their diet and chow down on both!

That rose behind your sunflower might have rose rosette disease. I have lost ten big roses to the disease. It is rampant in our area and roses that were decades old have succumbed. I'd say our area has only 10% of the roses it had 20 years ago. People keep planting them, but they keep dying a slow miserable, ugly death. If your landlord's plant has it and remains, it will just be source of spreading the disease. It is a viral (Emaravirus-- has weird RNA) disease but is spread by microscopic mites that float on the wind, so the disease spreads far, wide, and easily. The standard recommendation with rose rosette disease is to dig out the plant and burn it.

Fifteen or so years ago, there was concern that rose rosette disease might threaten rose family fruit crops that grow on caned plants-- raspberry, blackberry, etc. As far as I know, that did not pan out. I did lose all my raspberries (total death), though raspberries are notoriously difficult to get rid of even if you are trying. If it was rose rosette that killed them, then the disease expresses itself differently in raspberries than in roses. (Actually, I think it was phytophthorium that killed them. Phytophthorium is very common out in the natural world and I see it killing quite a few trees and shrubs.) Rose rosette disease does affect wild roses. So in our area, if you hope to go harvest the hips of wild roses, you might be out of luck.

It's all connected, eh?

David Trammel's picture

Yesterday one of my foster cats was in the window. When I came up behind her, she was staring at a small yellow bird on top of the big sunflower. It decided to snack.

Wonder if I could cover the flower with a nylon and prevent other birds from snacking? I'm not opposed to sharing, but I worry such damage could lead to infection or blight. The seeds haven't developed yet, so it just ate the flowers and proto seeds. Not to mention I would like a few seeds for my own use, lol.