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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - November 03, 2006

From: Safety Harbor, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Problems with sunflowers in Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I planted sunflowers on the west side of my house where I have previously planted them and they grew wonderfully. These new ones, however, seem to be dying, (less than 2 weeks). I bought the plants at the store, put potting soil in the holes and then the plant. I have also used milorganite, as I have used it in the past with wonderful results. Can I just trim the sunflowers to get new growth or are they a lost cause? My gerbera daisies are doing a little better, but not much. What can I do to bring these two plants back?

ANSWER:

Let's consider the possible causes for your plants not doing well:

1. They haven't received enough water.

From your concern about their care, I would think that you had given them sufficient water.

2. They are stressed from too much water.

This is not likely the cause since Florida's sandy soil drains well even if you applied too much water for them.

3. They were overfertilized.

It would be difficult to overfertilize with milorganite.

The most likely cause is that your plants were stressed from something that occurred before you bought them. You can try pruning away the dead foliage from the sunflowers and the gerbera daisies, but it is a little late in the season even in Florida for sunflowers to recover and do very well.

 

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