In summer the delightful Sunflower (Helianthus) towers over the garden, its huge, yellow head bobbing cheerfully in the breeze. Among the garden’s tallest plants, sunflowers can reach an astounding height of 10 feet on their thick green stalks, their gigantic flower heads growing to nearly a foot in diameter.
Their extreme size makes sunflowers a good choice to line sunny fences or decorate the rear of large garden beds. As fall approaches and their centers fill with seeds, sunflowers bow their heads under the weight of their tasty fruit.
The visible black outer shell of the fruit is an inedible husk, the delicious true seed lying within. A favorite food of birds, particularly cardinals, and squirrels, sunflower seeds can be harvested to feed over-wintering birds. With a bit of garden twine mature sunflower heads can also be turned into instant natural bird feeders to attract native and migrating species. This is a fun garden activity to do with children and easier to accomplish with two pairs of hands.
To Turn a Sunflower Head into a Birdfeeder,
carefully cut the stalk off as close to the back of the flower head as possible. Be careful not to dislodge mature seeds from the head. Cut three 30-inch lengths of garden twine. Macrame string or colorful lengths of sturdy yarn can also be used. Holding the three strands together, tie a knot in each bundled end. Hold the sunflower with the seed side up and position the head between the lengths of twine, centering the bottom knot on the bottom of the flower head. Spread the lengths of twine equal distant around the perimeter of the flower head so that it is supported and balanced. Hang from the top knot in a tree or from a garden crook.