sunflowers with plenty of pollen

katob Z6ish, NE PaMarch 29, 2014

Does anyone have advice regarding sunflower seed strains? I'm planning a bigger patch this summer which is new for me, usually I just rely on whatever pops up from the bird feeder.
My problem is I need some sunflowers that produce pollen. The ones from the feeder usually do not and I often end up with lots of blooms but no seeds, and I want it all! A long season of flowers (a multiflowered type, not the single bloom grey-striped) plus plenty of seedheads for the goldfinches and chickadees. Usually if I just have a couple wild ones coming up with pollen all the others will set seeds.... I just need to find some to provide the pollen!
thanks

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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I'd just look at any of the online sources for a small-flowered variety that has multiple blooms per stalk.

Martha

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 8:30AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

sex.. pollen.. ovary.. etc ... [hows that for a start... lol]

many plants do not come true from seed... and are in fact sterile .. and i suspect that is what you are finding ...

food crops are selectively bred for a huge crop .. for processing and sale ... there is no inherent need for them to consider germination of the following generations ... as its a one and done system .. and in fact ... the growers dont want them to seed... rather relying on planting fresh seed with the genes they want the following season ...

so it does not surprise me.. that bird food seed would fail on some level ...

soooo ... if you are going large.. and want a crop.. you select a cultivar that will provide such..

and you plant the same cultivar next season.. and do not rely on the seed yours produce in fall ...

be the farmer.. buy the seed for the product you want ... and do it again in the future ...

it is akin to alyssum in my yard ... no matter what fancy color you buy.. if you do get seedlings the next year .... 99% will be white ... its all in the genetics ... or the regression of the genetics

ken

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 7:42AM
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grandmamaloy(7)

You will hit the jackpot at the link below. I LOVE sunflowers and a lot of people probably don't know that there are pollenless and seeded varieties. I know some people don't want the seeds, so that's an option for them, but when you want seeds....
Autumn Beauty has multiple flower heads on nicely branched plants and produces seeds. Evening Colors is another that produces multiple flower heads in gorgeous colors and has seeds and Ikarus is a bright yellow, multi-branched sunflower that produces seeds. Enjoy your sunflower garden!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sunflowers galore!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 12:37PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Thanks for the responses all!
Grandmamaloy, that's perfect! I needed to know a few "seeded" strains and those will work great.... Actually your enthusiasm for sunflowers has me thinking I might have to plant a bigger patch. Hmmmm. It's doable, the shrub border is kinda boring most of the year and really hasn't filled in yet :)

The problem with the birdseed isn't that it's not productive, it's very productive, which makes sense since it's farmed for the seed. The problem is they don't produced the pollen. There's no pollen to form seeds with and as a result it's only when a sunflower with pollen pops up do the bees have something to spread around.

I guess that's perfect for the guy who sells the seed, people can harvest the seed they grow but no one can plant the seed and expect a good crop..... so they keep coming back for more each spring, but I wonder if it contaminates any wild populations of sunflowers with a no-pollen gene, leaving them unable to reproduce.... Like it does the sunflowers in my yard.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 6:36PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Wow! There are some beautiful sunflowers available. I wish I had more sun in my yard.

Martha

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:19PM
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