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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bushwhacking Texas Style

To be honest, I didn't even look at the package. All I saw was "sunflower collection" and I immediately grabbed the item off the shelf at the Wildflower Farm. I love sunflowers. I have always had several in the yard and delight in finding new colors and schemes to try. They are just gorgeous on the plant and in the vase. Plus they are easy to grow and are relatively pest free.

Then I moved to Texas.

First of all, there is some sort of caterpillar that has just mowed through most of them. I think the likely suspect is a pretty little Bordered Patch (Chlosyne lacinia) buterfly that's been hanging out. I have learned not to immediately drown caterpillars in soapy water until I have identified the adult, and in this case, they were only eating the sunflowers. Plus, these plants are HUGE. I planted them on the berm between my fruit trees, and they have reached a height of at least ten feet. The side branches are over an inch thick and the trunk is at least three inches at the base. A little defoliation was in order just to let some light in for the apple trees.

But then the caterpillars got their fill and the dang plants recovered. Pretty soon, my trees completely disappeared. Today I decided I'd better tackle the job or lose the trees. It took me over an hour to trim up two sunflowers and to chop up the branches into the compost bin. Whose ever heard of having to trim up a sunflower to save a tree? I mean really?

Next time I think I'll read the package.


  1. Don't worry--I felt the same way when I bought tomato seedlings and as I was planting them I finally read the "how tall will this plant be" thing. I was appalled to find out that they would be 6' tall. Even the Lemon Boy, which is a 4-6' plant never grows that tall in Colorado.

    Now I always read the packet like three or four times before buying...even then, I somehow misread my popcorn as saying it produced 2' ears on 4' stalks instead of 2" ears on 4' stalks.

  2. Thanks Katina. Misreading packages definitely makes gardening more adventurous!

  3. You may have every thing just right for sun flowers. You should get some of those giant headed ones next year and see what they do. They also have some really pretty ones now as well.

  4. Thanks Bob! I have several packets of seed, one of which is "Mammoth". I didn't have room to plant it this year but will definitely try it next spring. I also have "Velvet Queen" blooming right now.

  5. I can't tell you the number of times I have been tempted by the words and pictures on a packet of seeds. Chinese lanterns my foot!