Sunflowers- Now ya see 'em, now ya don't?

katie73April 18, 2006

Hi all,

My 3 yr old son was all excited to grow sunflowers (thank to several Winnie the Pooh stories!). So, we got some seeds and planted a few at the edge of our garden. They started to come up & when they were a couple inches high, I thought since that went so well (this is my first year attempting to grow a garden) I figured I'd plant some as a border around 2 sides of my yard. The next day I went out to water & saw that something had dug up the newly planted seeds & ate them!! Then, a few days later, the seedlings that had sprouted in the garden were completely gone!! Do you think that whatever ate my seeds came back & got my plants? Any idea what it could be and/ or how to keep it (them?) away. I live in the Triangle area if that makes any difference. I (and my son!) would appreciate any thoughts on this!! Thanks!

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I used to plant sunflowers and something would eat them up every time they got a couple of inches high. One year, I planted them in pots on my deck and didn't put them in my garden until they were about a foot high. A couple days later, something ate them up again. Never figured out what was eating them, but it was the usual suspects -- deer or rabbits. I don't try to grow sunflowers any more.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 8:58PM
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I am so sorry to hear about your plants and seeds! I can't help much if it is deer but last year I sowed mine in big red solo cups and 2 liter bottles with about 1/3 of of the top cut off. Actually, they were the left over wintersowing jugs without the tops. I knew I had a rabbit problem so when the seedlings were big enough to plant out I then took a 2 liter jug and cut the top and bottom out and cut one side open. planted the seedling and then placed the bottle around it to protect it from the rabbits. Later I took the bottle from around it. I probably could have left it around it but the rabbits seem to leave them alone and the jugs are ugly. I also have a dog who was outside once it was warm so that might have something to do with the rabbit problem disappearing. I have some sundlower seeds and a few dward sunflower plants if you need them - email me. I am in the Triangle. Good luck. Shannon/Dirtrx

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 9:26PM
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Claire Pickett

Try, try again. The same thing is unlikely to happen.

You can control them by planting in little pots and then transplanting to your beds carefully, without letting the plants know they are being moved. Shhhhh! SF's do not like to be moved.

Branching sunflowers, like Autumn Sunset, are amazing. Wait til you see the birds cavorting up high on those burnished beauties.
claire in sanford

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 6:26PM
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sunshinysmile(7 Piedmont Triad NC)

I am a bit nervous about planting my babies...I am nursing about 30 torch tithonia seedlings that are about 4 inches long, but are just forming their second real set of leaves.

If they get et, I'll be an upset lady!

I'm in the Triad...and just remembered my son is afraid of bees...

My yard is going to look like a neighbors are going to LOVE me...

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 10:21PM
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Tammy Kennedy

sunshine, tithonia transplants well. they are the most vibrant wonderful velvety orange. the butterflies won't leave them alone.

pup, i hadn't heard that sf didn't like transplanting. i don't have good luck in direct sowing, but i'll have to bear that in mind. 'course i already have a bunch started in 6 packs now. i'll get them out young & be extra careful. thanks fro the tip. tam

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 10:05AM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

You might try bending some chicken wire over them, in long strips if that's how you planted them. Fold the ends down so creatures can't get inside. You might have squirrels eating them.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 12:39AM
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puddle_of_mud(NC - zone 7)

It's probably the squirrels. They do that to me every time I try to grow sunflowers. Once I got a seed to grow up and bloom, just as the seeds in the head were ripening, a squirrel chewed through the stem just below the head, and ran away with the whole thing!!! All I had left was a big green stick! Funny thing though, watching that squirrel run with that big ol' flower!!! LOL

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 4:53PM
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junequilt(z8 SC)

I'm sure glad I read this thread -- though I was losing my mind when my little sunflower seedlings started to disappear! I still have trouble believing that any rabbit or squirrel would brave coming into the garden of a household with 7 cats, but maybe it's a kamikaze rabbit. Anyway, I planted sunflower seeds only because I couldn't find any tithonia seeds locally. A friend had given me a tithonia plant last year, and it was fabulous! So here's my question: if I mail-order some tithonia seeds, is it too late to plant them? I'm in the SC midlands.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 12:13PM
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Here is my question about sunflowers - I have never had any luck with direct sowing them, had about 30% with WSing them with some varieties and again 0% with others. WHY do they germinate like crazy under the birdfeeders???????? - I do let some of them grow but they are just the run of the mill ones and t hey never get very big before they bloom - I want the fancier ones with all the beautiful sunset colors and branching stems. I guess I should be thankful I get the ones under the birdfeeders.

I did have good success with WSing tithonia.

junequilt - do you have a Walmart close by?? - they have the tithonia seed - any of the bigbox stores should have them if they still have their seed out....


    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 2:28PM
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paulacat(Z8 Coastal SC)

Just had to add my 2 cents...I'd say it's definitely squirrels, the most destructive little beasts I've ever seen. The ones in my yard will dig up ANYTHING they think might have something edible attached. If I can ever get small plants established, they'll leave them alone but those first couple of weeks are a definite trial. This year, I had some sweet potato vines, green and blackie, that survived the winter in the greenhouse. As soon as I put them out, some long-tailed varmint pulled it out of the pot and ATE the potato.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 4:52PM
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About those pesky squirrels!

We live in an area which was once a walnut grove and the sqirrels are everywhere here. We have oak trees in the front and back yards with zillions of acorns and an abundance of squirrel nests. Last year, I had huge sunflowers with no problems from the little buggers. I am quite certain that the old-time remedy I had used with my bulbs discouraged the squirrels from eating other goodies from my flower and veggie gardens.

The first autumn after I moved here, squirrels dug up and chewed up all of the iris tubers that I had brought from CO when we moved to SC. They gnawed all around the tubers and then left the remains on top of my barbeque if to say, 'gotcha!" Then they cut off all of the blooms on my tulips the following spring. Someone told me to put pieces of Ex-Lax around the plants. They love the chocolate, but after they sit on the 'john' for awhile, they have time to think about what they have done. After that, they won't eat ANYTHING from your place again.

Now we grow tomatoes, corn, sunflowers, squash, and tulips with no more problems. The neighbors behind us have a small garden and my hubby and I sit on the swing and watch the squirrels run up and downn the neighbors' fence with baby peaches and tomatoes in their mouths! Hilarious!

Instead of buying real Ex-Lax, hubby bought the cheaper WalMart brand Equate and it worked just fine. We keep a supply on hand, but only had to use it that one time.

I also put a few small pieces in the flower bed around my mailbox to keep the across-the-street dogs away from the newly planted clematis. Now they dig up plants and poopie in someone else's yard!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 2:18PM
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Tammy Kennedy

what a machiavellian, but hysterical way to deal with them!! little blighters. i'm gonna have to try that! every yr they get my nectarines just as they ripen. hubby likes to slingshot them with old whole pecans. seems poetic.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 5:53PM
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tamelask, your hubby sounds like a lot of fun! Do you have pecan trees, also? My 87-yr old mom has a slingshot that she uses on neighbor dogs that sleep in her carport and leave fleas.

I just went out to put fresh 'juice' in the hummingbird feeder and found that the squirrels had popped of all those little yellow 'daisy' snap-ons that guide the hummers to the drinking holes! The 'daisies' were in the strawberry bed just below the feeder, so I super-glued them back on.

'Skirls' are very creative, aren't they? That's what my 3-yr-old grandson calls them.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 5:16PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

Very excited about my sunflowers. Direct sowed many seeds on Saturday and went out today to see 5-10 from a mix variety pack poking out. I was amazed! It did rain the past 3-4 days and I think the day the sun finally came out everything decided to go full force! I hope the squirrels don't get them. I know they already attacked some bean seeds :(

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 2:23AM
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Tammy Kennedy

This reminds me that i need to get the ex-lax spread around in hope that they'll leave my fruit alone this year. I'll cover my nectarine, too, in case they don't get the message.

A very late answer, but no, pathfinder, we don't have a pecan. No room or light. But the park down the road does and we collect from there, and we have indoor parrots, and so get some non human grade whole pecans in that. I'm having more trouble with coons now than squirrels.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 10:31AM
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ok something ate the tops off my sunflowers. This was noticed just as the heads were starting to form. The most likely suspects here are either squirrels or snails.
Now, I've a grand sunflower that grew in the compost pile. He has been scared nicely by snails but is doin well. He has a 10"-12" head and just about ready for netting.
But for the row of sunflowers that are across the yard and along the fence. I was wondering what ate their heads off? At this time the heads had hardly formed. I'm not ready to call it squirrels. The heads were only halfway up the fence. There were gouges like but not the same a the snails had left. Sure, last year when the heads had form nice,heavily seeded sunflowers, the squirrels did feast very well.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 6:20PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Instead of sunflowers, next year you might have fun planting some sunchokes (from the grocery vegetable section). The few I harvested and planted at my new house have grown to 10' tall so they have to have support, strong support.
Then, after they bloom, in late fall you can dig up the chokes (jerusalem artichokes) and let your grandchild taste them raw or cooked.
Just remember to site them properly where they won't be in the way because once you plant them they come up every year no matter how well you dig them up.
Its in the sunflower family and instead of the heads being decimated by squirrels and jays, these smaller heads are food for the goldfinches.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:40AM
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