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Probably like many other gardeners, I like and plant many kinds od sunflowers - I've got many dry sunflower stalks from the previous year, and I would like to do something useful and creative with them.

I've heard that Indians used to make flutes out of sunflower stalks (and maybe still do). One can hear sunflower flute sound on this youtube video.

What kind of sunflower is the best for this purpose?

  • How big around do the stalks need to be? Solid or hollow? Do you use fresh stalks or overwintered, dried stalks? – Shule Mar 25 '18 at 1:27
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What size, dunno - the wider the hollow space and the longer, the deeper the sound will be (think the size of a piccolo vs a tuba). Definitely the dried stalks, you wouldn't want your good whittling to go to waste if a worked-on green stalk warped as it dried, or split. But you might try putting plugs (wine corks?) in green ones you want to work on - as the stalk dried around the plug it should tighten it nicely. You want it to be air-tight except for two holes: where you blow into it, either at one end or on the side near a closed end, and a bigger hole for the air to escape. If you're really, really good, you can vary your notes just by the way you blow. Otherwise, make high or low notes by making several holes 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter along the length, so you can stop them up or open them by lifting your fingertips up and down. I can remember my dad making whistles for us from stems he cut from trees or bushes he knew had pithy centers. They'd be 5-6 inches long, maybe half an inch thick. He skinned the bark off, pushed out the pith with a skewer and made a few holes with his brace and bit. Not sure we sounded very musical, but it was fun. Your flutes would be similar, just bigger and no doubt more pleasant sounding. I've not studied sunflower stalks - do they get woody enough to carve? Strong enough to lean on? You could carve your flutes, or make walking-canes.

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What a great idea! I grew about 10 varieties of sunflowers this year. I think the ones with the largest diameter stem were the ProCut. The orange in particular, the white ones didn't have as big a stem. I did let some of them stay put until last week. They dried out, and they were definitely hollow! I was thinking they might have had another use. I'm going to get a couple and try it.

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