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Sunflower seeds, leaves and stems emit substances that inhibit the growth of certain other plants.They should be separated from potatoes and pole beans.

Birds and squirrels can be a problem when seeds ripen and harvest time approaches.If you do not plan to use the seeds, it is fun to watch wildlife enjoy the bounty.However, it was in Russia that the sunflower became a major agricultural crop.They provided a source of oil that could be eaten without breaking church dietary laws. began sustained commercial production of oil seed cultivars to produce vegetable oil.________________________________________Sunflower roots spread widely and can withstand some drought.

However, it is best to water them regularly during their most important growth period which is about 20 days before and after flowering.Early in the 20th Century, Russian growers spearheaded the breeding and selection for disease resistance and high oil content. Long beloved as part of the rural landscape, sunflowers have been embraced by gardeners as an ornamental plant relatively recently.Responding to this interest, breeders in Germany, Japan and the U. have developed types particularly suitable for home gardens.________________________________________To grow smaller flowers for bouquets, space plants much closer together?about 6 inches apart in Maine, or as close as 2 inches in dry places like Arizona. The plants will be much smaller, with fewer branches, but the stems will be longer and flower heads a good size for arrangements.Also try cutting away the few leaves that are closest to the heads to make it harder for birds to perch and feed. As they favor the new, tender leaves at the top of the plants, a 36-inch chicken wire barrier supported by 6-foot bamboo stakes should keep them at bay. ________________________________________Sunflowers are virtually as care free as their smiling faces suggest.