Saturday, July 17, 2010

Prado Red Sunflowers

I've always been a fan of growing sunflowers. Something about taking a little seed, planting into the ground the seed, and watch what happens. Usually the addition of some good soil plus fertilizer, water and time and some incredible happens. I was going through an archive of older photographs and found some pictures of past Sunflowers:

Usually my choice has been the standard yellow huge sunflower. To me this is a plant that is a true go-getter. Anything that grows to over 6ft tall from such a small little seed is a plant that deserves our respect and love. I have never taken the seeds for anything, leaving them for the birds and squirrels. After all, they need to eat and I know I can buy a whole bunch of sunflower seeds for a relatively inexpensive price.

This year I decided to do some experimentation with the garden. With a number of plants I'm doing different things with different plants. Why stay with the tried and true when there are so many different varieties to grow. This year, I decided not to plant the huge sunflower but attempt to grow the Prado Red Sunflower.

It is a fascinating sunflower. It's one of the early bloomers of the sunflower family. You plant it and give it a couple of months, the plant will start to bloom. As well, it is a multi-branched type of sunflower, not satisfied with just one bloom but a number of them. According to a number of sites, it is a great plant to use for cut flowers. It is also not one of those extremely large sunflowers, growing to about 4-5 feet.

I ordered my seeds from Dominion Seed House, a reputable Canadian Seed Company. I waited until about the middle of May to plant the seeds. After that it was a lot of time and watering before the plants started to show:

If you look at the time stamp on the photograph you can read this picture was taken on June 29th. As you can see, there wasn't much to the plant. It did grow, gaining some nice height then July 14th came about:

There it was, finally the first bloom of the sunflower. As you can tell by the deep hue, it is a dark red flower, some sites describe it as almost being chocolate in colour:
Gorgeous chocolate and dark crimson red blooms. Bushy plants have numerous long, slender lateral branches with a dark maroon colour and contrasting dark green foliage. Handsome 5-8" flowers are produced prolifically up until frost.

The above quote was taken from the Veseys catalogue on the Prado Red. The catalogue mentions it is about 53 days from germination to flowering. I didn't keep a close calendar but I suspect that's about right for these seeds. perhaps closer to 60 days.

What has also impressed me about this plant is the colour of the back of the leaves:

Right now, I have three plants flowering, hopefully the rest will soon follow:

If you would like more information on the Prado Red, simply google the name. By the way, the Posterous posting on the front page is my photograph

After the success, so far, of this type of sunflower, I'm looking carefully at the those seed pages and thinking about what type I'll try next year.

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