The long and lazy days of summer have arrived, and with them celebrations, barbecues and relaxing times with family and friends. We all know there is simply no better way to brighten any gathering than with a vase of fresh cut summer flowers – from patio to picnic table, a bunch of sunflowers is the perfect way to represent the essence of this relaxing and sunny season.
Once you are done with the head of the bloom, the abundant seeds will also give you the opportunity to grow your own impressive stalks of sunflowers. They grow fairly well, and require very little dedicated cultivation. As a matter of fact, they are known to grow across plains and along roadways spanning the Midwestern United States, making it one of the most prolific wildflowers in existence. As each flower dies and the seeds scatter, new sunflowers are sure to take root. However, you can cultivate sunflowers in fertile soil with plenty of drainage; and your efforts should result in huge and majestic plants, sometimes reaching 20 feet (although three to ten foot plants are more common.)
Aside from being gorgeous and bringing a cheerful aura to any space, sunflowers are also known to be quite useful in other ways. Native Americans have used the sunflower to treat pulmonary and respiratory ailments for thousands of years. The stems are rich in phosphorous and potassium which is often composted and returned to soil as fertilizer. In other countries the sunflower is used in part in the manufacturing of fuel, paper, paint and cosmetics. Back home, many folks enjoy husked sunflower seeds as a nutritious and handy snack, and sunflower oil can also be used while cooking.