Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sunflower Setback

Chianti hybrid sunflowers in 2010 garden

We grow sunflowers every year. Last year we grew giant mammoth and Chianti hybrid varieties. The Chianti hybrids were so pretty with their deep red blooms that I absolutely wanted to grow them again this year. The giant mammoth and Chianti seedlings started to sprout a couple of weeks ago.  When I went to check on their progress a couple of days ago, I saw that they had all been cut at the base and were lying there in the soil, dead. Squirrels had dug holes in the soil and just clipped the seedlings out.

When I was younger I thought squirrels were so cute. I couldn't understand why my friends' parents and grandparents hated them and set traps for them so they could drive the squirrels miles away and release them somewhere else. Well, now I understand the anti-squirrel feelings. Squirrels have eaten my strawberries, thrown mulch and dirt all over my deck, and dug up tulip bulbs in the past. And now they've attacked my precious sunflower seedlings!

Chianti hybrid seedlings before
Mammoth seedlings and the two flowers that we started early and took off. The bigger ones weren't disturbed, but the small seedlings were all yanked out.

I replanted both the Mammoth and Chianti varieties, and we're going to cover the containers with mesh, similar to what we're using to protect the strawberry patch, until they're big and sturdy enough that the squirrels won't bother them.

squirrel attack--all seedlings removed. you can sort of see them laying in the dirt

Interestingly, the two giant mammoth sunflower plants that have already grown up are fine (see picture above). This year we're also growing teddy bear sunflowers, and the squirrels left those alone.
teddy bear 

I'm linking to Cottage Flora Thursday today.


  1. Nice to see someone's sunflowers coming along (mine were attacked by relentless slugs). I've never seen a dark variety with such a large disk- very cool!

  2. Those darn squirrels! They are really becoming a problem here too. Good luck with your beautiful sunflowers! It looks like you're off to a good start...


  3. @Kate--ooh, I haven't seen slugs. My sunflowres are in containers on a deck, and I hope the slugs don't figure out how to get up there. Mostly the flowers get torn up by birds and squirrels.

  4. @Fabiana--thank you! I know, I wish the squirrels would go somewhere else. They haven't figured out how to get to the strawberries this year...yet.

  5. We were struggling with squirrels, rabbits, and woodchucks who would eat everything right down to the pavement. One of our little Cavalier King Charles Spaniels decided he'd had enough (or had a species identity issue and began to believe he was a cat) and that took care of the critter problem for us!

  6. I have never grown sunflowers but they are intriguing - maybe I'll give them a try next year! Your red one is really quite beautiful.

  7. The chianti sunflower is so pretty. I hope you can stave off the squirrels. In NM, it's the jack rabbits that drive people crazy.

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  9. @Cathy and Steve--wow, tough little spaniel! I'm sure you're glad for its help, it's so frustrating to put time into something and have some little critter come and tear things up. We have a cat, and he would rather make friends with the squirrels than chase them away, LOL.

    @HolleyGarden--thank you! I hope they're able to grow that big this year without anymore interruption from squirrels. :(

    @GirlSprout--I can imagine that the jack rabbits would be a big nuisance!


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