I planted Mexican sunflowers last year. We think of sunflowers as these.
These are the big, bright smiles from which we get our black oil sunflower seeds. What I planted wasn't anything like these.
They are orange, brilliantly red-orange or orange-red. The flowers themselves are not the dinner plate size we associate with sunflowers. These were, at best, 4-5 inches across. The stalks were tall, eventually topping out at close to 6 feet tall, which is similar to the above sunflowers. They had a lot of leaves, which, I explained, shielded my peppers from the sun, something I had not planned for.
Squirrels and birds love the top sunflower. If you grow them in your yard, you're advised to put a pair of panty hose over the seed head, if you don't want to share. The Mexican ones didn't set a seed head. They attracted something rarer.
I don't know if you can see it. There is a hummingbird at the flower on the left. All summer, from the time these started blooming through just after Labor Day, I had hummingbirds in the yard.
Catching them for a photograph is extraordinarily challenging. He's just above the flower second from the left. There was never more than one around the sunflowers at any given time. Occasionally, one would show up at the front window, almost as if he was asking if there was any nectar.
I am extraordinarily pleased with these plants, but, as I've talked about in previous posts, they need to be somewhere else. I think the front of my house would benefit tremendously from sunflowers. I saw monarch butterflies around them too and you all know how much I adore those. Combined with the milkweed I already grow, this would be a huge boost to their habitat.
The other thing I'm considering is a hummingbird feeder in the front next to the pole feeder and bird bath. The pole feeder was toppled, I believe by yard denizens so I need to anchor it better and deeper in the ground. That has to wait for the thaw to be completely out of the ground and some warmer temperatures. I still have a hummingbird feeder from years ago. I'm debating. It's been decades since I saw these in my yard and then they come back full force. I should decide what to do to encourage them to stay.