New Sunflowers for 1997

New Sunflowers for 1997

Part of Ep. 501 Planning Ahead

Take a look at some of the new varieties of sunflowers growing in the test plots of the Jung Seed Company.  Leanne Gensh shows off the Autumn Beauty, Floristan, Music Box, and Pancino varieties.

Premiere date: Feb 28, 1997

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
One of the greatest joys of planning ahead for the growing season is being able to pick new and exciting varieties to grow in my garden every year. Lately, I've found myself increasingly fascinated by some of the new varieties of sunflowers coming out.

I'm with Leanne Gensh, and we're in Randolph, Wisconsin. Leanne, you work for Jung Seed Company, and you test a wide variety of flowers and vegetables in their test plots. Can you tell me a little about that?

Leanne:
Well, we try to trial everything on a three to five year basis and get a good idea of how things grow in Wisconsin.

Shelley:
So, we're really getting an idea of how they're going to perform for us in our own backyards?

Leanne:
Right.

Shelley:
What about sunflowers? They have come a long way since the big, single stalk and the single head.

Leanne:
What we're seeing now are a lot of the branching types that can be used for cut flowers. And then, rather than just the big bloom, you can get the side flowers, also.

Shelley:
So, you've got some ones that you're fairly excited about, here.

Leanne:
Right. This one is "Autumn Beauty." It gets to be about six to eight feet tall, so you can also use it if you're growing annual vines nearby. We put sunflowers in our children's collection along with "Morning Glory" seeds, so it's like a living trellis.

Shelley:
So, these will stand up pretty much by themselves and the vines just grow right up them.

Leanne:
Right. This particular variety is in solids and bi-colors, anywhere from cream-yellow to mahogany color.

Shelley:
Almost chocolate highlights in some of these petals-- beautiful. Now, you said that some of the ones we're seeing now are multi-branched. Are the buds that I'm looking at here what you mean?

Leanne:
Right. Often times, what you would get would be the main flower. It might be a little bit bigger, but then the side buds open up and give you nice blooms, too.

Shelley:
So, we're getting a lot more bloom time than from a single, large stalk with a single flower.

Leanne:
Right.

Shelley:
What about this one? The colors on this are absolutely gorgeous.

Leanne:
This is "Floristan." We call that a wine and it has yellow highlights. But this variety only gets to be about four feet tall.

Shelley:
So, we're getting a lot shorter here, then. Do I plant these indoors, like I would start tomato seeds? What's the best way to grow these in Wisconsin?

Leanne:
Well, we prefer to start them outside with direct seeding, just like you would corn, after the last frost. We planted ours this year around the middle of June and by the middle of August we had beautiful blooms.

Shelley:
So we can go that late and still get flowers by the end of the growing season.

Leanne:
Right.

Shelley:
That's a beautiful one. Now, that's a four-footer, but you said that that's one of the neat changes happening in the sunflower world. What is different about this one? What's special?

Leanne:
This one is called "Music Box." This only grows to be two to two and a half feet tall. It's kind of a miniature version of the "Autumn Beauty," again, with the solid and bi-color bloom. It would make a nice front border.

Shelley:
So, this is not one we'd grow vines on?

Leanne:
No, but it would be nice for children. They could walk up and see it at their level.

Shelley:
Sure, just about eye level. How do all these perform as a cut flower? They obviously have some great color.

Leanne:
They hold up very well. In an arrangement, you have your vibrant colors and now the whole range of colors that they're coming out in. And they do make nice combinations in bouquets.

Shelley:
They're really striking. You really see them from a distance, too. Now, this is one-- you've hinted that this is a brand new variety.

Leanne:
Right. This is called "Pacino." What's neat about this is it can also be grown very well in a container. In a small container, it gets to be about ten inches tall. If you direct seed it in the garden, it will be, again, two to two and a half feet tall. It has bright yellow petals and a smaller center.

Shelley:
It's an almost green center that's very striking. The stalks are very strong, so it would stand up well in a container or as a cut flower. One of the reasons that I like to grow sunflowers, particularly the old varieties, is that they seem to attract a lot of birds, goldfinches, to my yard, especially in the late season, even after the frost. With these new varieties, will I still attract birds?

Leanne:
Well, with some of them, you'll be able to. But there are new pollen-less types coming on to the market. They work better for the floral industry, they're not as messy. But then you wouldn't have the seed production like you would with the other types.

Shelley:
So, the ones we've talked about here?

Leanne:
Those would all work well if you wanted to feed the birds. What we do is leave some of the seed heads out in the fall after we're done with our fall clean up.

Shelley:
So, not only are you getting pleasure out of them, but then the critters are too. Do you have one here that's an all-time favorite?

Leanne:
Well, "Music Box" would have to be my favorite because of the different colors and with the short height, you can plant them in front of the garden and enjoy it all summer.

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