Did you ever grow Sunflower Teddy Bear? It was a dwarf, which by sunflower standards meant it was about 3 feet tall instead of 5 to 8 feet, and it had big fuzzy double blooms that children liked to pat. Well, little Teddy Bear has grown up, and this season we have his mature version: Superted!
Superted comes to us from Europe, where the cutflower industry is serious business. These blooms are about 3.5 inches wide and probably nearly that thick, too, with hundreds of soft yellow petals crammed around a seed-filled cone. They open 3 weeks or so before all other sunflowers. That’s almost a month extension on the season!
Not only are the flowers early, they arise on super-thick, strong stems. Now, all sunflowers have massive stems. But Superted’s is so powerful that it gives these blooms a longer vase life after cutting than all others. Far longer. Hence the attention of the European cutflower industry, which is absolutely crazy about this newcomer.
As you can see from the photo, numerous buds appear on every stem, and they do it in sequence, so you get weeks and weeks of beauty if you leave the plant uncut in the garden. (But who can resist the thought of a “far longer” show-off time?) In fact, leave it long enough (say, October!) and all the petals will fall off, revealing tons of sunflower seeds for the birds to enjoy. So there’s your dilemma: indoors or out? What a nice problem to have!
Superted reaches about 5 feet and change in height, so it’s not up there with the giants, but it will definitely do its Jack-and-the-beanstalk thing, especially since it has to attain all that height sooner than every other sunflower in the garden. Give it some support, because you do not want it keeling over before you harvest every one of those fantastic fuzzy flowers! And if you’re doing a Three Sisters planting this year, you know Superted would make the perfect Fourth Sister . . .