This special sunflower mix called ‘Autumn Beauty’ produces a gorgeous array of sunny color in all the fabulous colors of fall – deep red, rich copper, gold, yellow, rust and intriguing two-tones. Great in cut flower arrangements, the plants usually grow to be 5 – 6 feet tall.
For fresh flowers, cut the stems 1½-2 feet in length and at an angle of 45 degrees. Strip off any leaves that will fall below the water level; place the stems in water immediately. For the longest vase life, recut the stems and replace the water every three days. To save the seeds for eating, first cover the heads with a protective fabric covering such as cheesecloth to discourage the birds and squirrels. As the heads ripen, they will drop their petals; the back of the head will turn from green to brown, and the seeds will develop a hard coating. Cut the heads, leaving several inches of stem. Hang them to dry in a protected, well ventilated area. Remove the seeds by gently rubbing the dried heads. Store the seeds in an airtight container.
Sunflowers were named for their habit of turning their faces to the sun. At the beginning of their development they exhibit heliotropism, or following the sun in its course from east to west, though the mature blossoms usually end up facing straight east. These versatile plants have an ancient history, beginning with Native American tribes across North America as early as 2000 BC. The seeds
were used for their oil, ground up for meal, or simply eaten as a snack; the plant also provided dye and medicinal ointment. In 18th century Europe, sunflowers were widely used both in gardens and for making cooking oil; the production of this heart-healthy oil eventually became a major industry both in Europe and America.
These are said to be the happiest of flowers, they symbolize loyalty and constancy.
Direct sow seeds outside after last frost. Plant seeds just under soil surface, and water.