At FarmGal Flowers, we like to grow sunflowers that come in nontraditional colors like red and chocolate. We also primarily grow multi-branching sunflowers as opposed to the “one and done” varieties because we grow in urban spaces. So I am always on the lookout for new multi-branching varieties to try. I came across Italian White Sunflower (Helianthus dibilis) seeds as I perused the aisles at Eden Brothers Seeds just outside of Ashevillle, North Carolina last summer.
Italian White Sunflowers checked all of the important boxes:
Easy to grow
Multi-branching – LOTS and LOTS of blooms
4”-5” wide flowers which is a great size for our bouquets
Unique color (Note: it is close to white but not a pure white.)
Great vase life
I am particularly impressed with its vase life (about a week and blooms do not shatter easily) but what I really love is how each bloom has a little bend in its neck yet remains sturdy. This helps create that garden style look in our arrangements.
Italian White Sunflowers are currently blooming in the market garden at East End Market. Come check them out! Also, don’t forget about our next Girls’ Night Out at East End: Let’s Make a Wreath Workshop! Click here for more information! Hope you can join us!
Hello East Enders! Eileen here with FarmGal Flowers. If we haven’t met yet, I’m the flower gardener at East End. I receive a lot of questions when I’m working in the market garden so I thought I’d start sharing some information here with you on the East End blog about what’s growing. If there’s anything in particular you would like to learn about, please let me know!
First up is Cranberry Hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)! I learned about Cranberry Hibiscus when I began working in the market garden several years ago. Our Fleeting Farming friends planted it and it has remained a staple for many reasons…
At FarmGal Flowers, I always like to have a large crop of Cranberry Hibiscus for Fall bouquets. Let’s face it – we do not have a true Fall season here in Central Florida with the leaves changing colors, pumpkins on the vine, or apple picking. However, I’ve found that Cranberry Hibiscus foliage with its Maple leaf shaped leaves and vibrant red color make our bouquets feel like Fall. It also has a pretty flower later in the season too.
You can grow Cranberry Hibiscus from seed. In fact, it often self-sows in the market garden. I have also found that it is very easy to propagate from cuttings. Cut a piece from the top of a plant at a 45-degree angle, remove any leaves at the bottom of your stem, and place in a couple of inches of water. Within a week…
You can start Cranberry Hibiscus at the beginning of each growing season here in Zone 9b. It prefers full sun. I usually start growing it in preparation for the Fall season. That would be in August/September here. Sometimes we have it year-round although it does take a beating in the summer. It doesn’t need anything extra besides the usual compost and organic fertilizers that we give to all of our flowers. Pinch the main stem after 3 or 4 sets of leaves have grown to encourage a bushier plant. We do not have issues with any pests either!
In the Fall, we cut it in the morning or late afternoon. Sometimes it will wilt and I let it rehydrate for 24 hours or so. It always bounces right back. It has excellent vase life and eventually those stems may root for you as mentioned earlier.
Cranberry Hibiscus leaves are edible and very nutritious. Use caution though as they contain oxalic acid and should not be eaten in large quantities. Cranberry Hibiscus flowers bloom in the late fall and can be used to make tasty teas.
Watch for Cranberry Hibiscus in our bouquets this Fall. Come visit the market garden at East End to see it up close. If you are ready to add it to your garden, I might be able to share cuttings with you (sorry local gardeners only) – leave me a comment above. Please share your experience growing or eating Cranberry Hibiscus below (you can also reach me at farmgalflowers.com)! I’d love to hear about it!