Harvesting Sunflowers For The Farmer’s Market

By Tonya Barnett | September 3, 2022
Image by Katie Simmons
by Tonya Barnett
September 3, 2022

As a cut flower grower, it’s often difficult to decide which types of plants are among my favorites. When asked, it seems as if I will give a different answer, depending upon the season and what is currently in bloom in the garden. However, sunflowers have been among my favorite cut flowers to harvest from the cutting patch, from the very first year that I began my gardening journey. 

Sunflowers Without Pollen

Most gardeners consider the addition of sunflowers to be quite beneficial to the garden. Though maintaining a cutting garden is not ideal for everyone, vegetable growers commonly praise sunflowers for their ability to attract pollinators to the space. Many heirloom varieties also produce an abundance of useful seeds. 

In this post, I will mainly focus on pollenless varieties of sunflowers which have been specifically bred for cut flower production. These cultivars do not produce seed unless cross-pollinated by another nearby sunflower type. Among the most common varieties of pollenless sunflower are those from the ‘ProCut’ series, which is prized for its uniformity and prompt bloom period.   

People Love Sunflowers

There are several reasons for which sunflowers so quickly became one of my favorite cut flowers to harvest. While the thick stems can be difficult to cut, the task becomes much easier with quality tools. Trialing new varieties for the garden is always an exciting task, as there is so much diversity among existing cultivars. 

The large, bright flowers are also among the most popular flowers at local farmer’s markets and nearly always receive a positive reaction from customers. 

Steady Bloomers

Sunflowers are celebrated by many professional cut flower growers for their use in season extension, as well. Most of the newer varieties for cutting are day neutral, meaning they will flower under varied light conditions. This allows gardeners to plant sunflower seeds in succession, every one to two weeks. Their consistent and dependable bloom allows for a steady supply of beauty all growing season long. 

Ideally, each stem should be cut from the garden, just as the petals begin to unfurl around the center disk. Then, the flowers should be allowed to condition in cool water before use in fresh flower arrangements, centerpieces, and/or garlands. 

While it is true that sunflowers are very common, I cannot help but feel excited each time a new variety begins to bloom here in my small backyard. Harvesting the beautiful flowers at the correct time is key to having the freshest vase possible. 

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