And yet, this time of year, I see literally hundreds of gardens where the gardener has actively worked to create inhibitions.
I personally am shocked, just shocked to see so many gardeners who are keeping their gardens from reaching their fullest potential. Have we no pride?
Frequently, the gardeners will even say, “It’s for the children“. They are teaching a whole new generation to be inhibited as well. The cycle must be stopped.
In short, they are growing sunflowers.
Oh sure, they look all sweet and… and… sunny, but deep down inside, they are keeping your garden down. They are passive aggressive and you are being an enabler to their problems. Throw off your sunflower shackles of inhibition and free yourself! You deserve more.
You see, sunflowers are what is known as an allelopathic plant. An allelopathic plant is a plant that secrets some kind of plant growth inhibitor from some part of its structure.
In the case of sunflowers, the part of the plant that gives off the allelopathic substance is the seed husks. Ever wonder why nothing (or next to nothing) grows under your bird feeder? It’s not because the squirrels run around in circles while contemplating how to get your bird seed. It’s because the sunflower shells in the feed fall to the ground and kill everything but other sunflowers.
This attribute is a very good survival tactic. As many of us know, sunflower heads are natural birdfeeders, so when mamma plant dies, her seeds will be ravaged by some birds, who crack open the shells and eat the tasty seed flesh inside. The bird drops the non-edible seed husk to the ground. Of course, while trying to extract the seeds from the flowerhead, a few of the seeds will slip out unscathed to the ground down among the bodies of its fallen siblings. Their deaths were not in vain though, because as the discarded husks decompose, they will clear the way for the survivor seeds to grow with little or no competition for sun and water. The demise of many ensures the survival of the few.
Pretty clever plant tactic, if you ask me.
But as a gardener, it is something that you need to be aware of when growing sunflowers. While they may look pretty towering up out of your flower beds, they may also work to kill your other flowers if the sunflower heads are not properly disposed of.
This also means that you want to be careful not to put them in your compost pile, unless you plan on letting them compost for a good, long time.
But, on the upside, you can take advantage of their allelopathic properties. Many researchers have been looking at sunflower husks as an organic alternative to weed killers. If you have an area that you need to keep plant free, it may be worth a try to leave a few mature sunflower heads there and let the birds have a feast. Then the discarded husks will work for you rather than against you.
I guess you can have sunflowers in your garden, just don’t lets them inhibit you. Goodness knows there is nothing scarier than an inhibited gardner.
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