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My idea is to start no less than a giant sunflower ('Titan', I plan just a single plant) on the northern border of my small herb garden with thyme, salvia, arugula, parsley and such.

The reason is to attract polinators, and add some vertical accent in that area. Also, to tease the curiousity of neighbors ;) haha.

Sun light will not be a problem! The sunflower's shade will be on the opposite side, which is a path and a wall anyway. I could also cut some sunflower's leaves that are too low. But what about underground? Can all the roots coexist? I have a feeling that something is wrong with this idea. What do you think?

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  • have you ever grown sunflowers before and seen the root system? Tall plants usually have extensive roots to stop them falling over in the wind. – Graham Chiu Mar 17 '18 at 8:20
  • I've grown sunflowers, but have never needed to see its roots. @Graham – VividD Mar 17 '18 at 8:23
  • But I've seen gardens with giant sunflowers among diverse perennials, that at least seem not to be affected. Some plants were even trained to grow along sunflowers' stalks. @Graham – VividD Mar 17 '18 at 8:28
  • The roots are not so large. In fact when there are some storms, many of the plants fall down. Not sure about pollinators, but they attract small birds at end of summer. It is nice to see them taking seeds and flying at same moment. – Giacomo Catenazzi Mar 17 '18 at 12:11
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi Like many tall plants they often rely on the support of other tall plants to keep them up. I stake my lone giant sunflowers. – Wayfaring Stranger Mar 17 '18 at 16:26
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Below is a photo of the single Sunflower ‘Sun King’ planted in our community garden patch this year.

Sunflower ‘Sun King’ in full bloom

It has been entirely worth it!

So many creatures have enjoyed this flower, including humans.

It is no longer in flower and many birds are now picking out the seed or picking fallen seed off the mulch.

In the same small bed we have successfully grown arugula (we call rocket / roquette), carrot, Chinese gooseberry, parsley and bok choy and have recently planted out three cabbage seedlings. The sunflower seems to have had no negative impact on the productivity of our patch. Of course I qualify that statement with the following - the soil in the bed was improved with a lot of compost prior to planting out, we have watered regularly, mulched heavily and treated with vermicaste (worm castings) tea every two to three weeks.

Worth noting... we intended to grow more than one but only this one plant survived the germination and early growth period. So if you want one you may be better planting three or four.

Our experience has been well worth it and we will be planting sunflowers every year.

Also worth noting, elsewhere in the common / public area of our community garden, we have planted out dwarf sunflower varieties to great effect and enjoyment by many. They produce six or more flowers on each plant. So don’t overlook this as an option too. (Varieties were: ‘Teddy Bear’ and ‘Dwarf Sunsation’.)

So my advice - go for it!

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