Growing a Sunflower to the Stars

| 8/8/2011 3:46:35 PM

KCWhen I started my garden this spring, I had few aspirations—just some tomatoes and a few sunflowers growing around the back fence to look cheery or to put in vases to brighten my home. Plus, of course, my kitchen herbs in containers around the door.

I knew that growing sunflowers in Kansas is about as easy as growing weeds. They are the state flower for a reason: They like it here. While the rest of the plants in our gardens have keeled over, are gasping in the heat and calling for the Bucket Brigade, the sunflowers just turn their little faces up and say, “Yes, but it’s a hot heat…”

They can take heat, our relative lack of moisture, and a good helping of inattention and neglect. I’m sure they have their limit, but we haven’t reached it yet this year, despite record-breaking heat and drought, and a personal schedule that has me look around every few days and say, “How long HAS it been since I watered?”

You know those stories you always see about the guy who has grown the state’s largest pumpkin, or the competition that produces cabbages so large they could provide housing for a family of four? I’ve never been attracted to those stories because I always figure those fruits and vegetables are completely inedible anyway, so why bother cultivating something merely to have the biggest, the grandest or the tallest.

That opinion was formed, however, before I ended up with a giant sunflower in my back yard, reaching for the sky and showing no signs of stopping yet, despite the fact that it now is at least 15 feet high. Now, I want that bad boy to keep on going because I’ve become completely fascinated by just how tall it can get.

 Sunflower to the Stars