Double choice of double sunflowers

September 22nd, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Sunflower 'Sun King' and 'Teddy Bear' (inset)

I’ve always been a little dubious about fully double sunflowers but in 2015 and 2016 I grew ‘Goldy’ and was delighted with its large, densely double, golden flowers.

This year ‘Goldy’ disappeared from catalogues and seed racks but for the coming season a replacement has arrived, a replacement that’s better than the original.

‘Sun King’ (above, main picture) has 20-23cm (8-9in) fully double, very tightly packed flowers in rich golden yellow with a few longer and broader petals around the edge. Reaching 1.8-2.2m (6-7ft), the first flower at the top of the stem is followed by three or four slightly smaller flowers on 90cm (3ft) stems.

These side shoots are ideal for cutting and longer than those of ‘Goldy’, whose side shoots could be quite short and unsuitable for arranging. I was very impressed with ‘Sun King’ on the Mr F trials this summer. And it’s only available from Mr F.

Farther along in the trial of forty seven sunflowers, ‘Teddy Bear’ (above, inset) also stood out. This is a much shorter, fully double variety which had deteriorated in recent years, with single flowers appearing amongst the doubles. But on this year’s evidence, it’s back to its original quality. It’s also the proud recipient of an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

The plants reached 60-90cm (2-3ft), the tight heads of green-eyed, golden orange flowers were surrounded by smaller flowers in the same style.

Next season I’m going to grow ‘Sun King’ with ‘Teddy Bear’ in front. Finding the space will be the tricky part.

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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