07 September 2015

Goldfinches: Messy Little Piggies

Burpee'e Elf sunflowers were planted for the second year, using up leftover seed. These dwarf sunflowers were placed near the front steps leading to the house -- a happy accident I will describe later. I find that Elf blooms earlier than Sunspot [posted 22.08.2015] -- and are more appetizing to the goldfinches.

Elf produced one main bloom, and numerous side blooms on stems that were of a substantial size for cutting. The blooms had yellow petals with black seed cluster centers. As the seed clusters matured, the goldfinches discovered this tasty treat. And they told their friends, who told their friends. It was not uncommon to see a half dozen goldfinches fluttering in and out of the sunflowers for breakfast.

The little acrobats could balance on top of a bloom, and bend down 180 degrees to the seeds. If some seed dropped, so what. No problem that the seeds fell all over the lower leaves and walks. There was always more. Until they found these this year, only my echinacea seeds were their favorite food source in the yard.

The plants were a maximum of 4-feet tall (1.2 m), although the seed packet states that these are the shortest dwarfs reaching only 30-inches (75 cm). My experience proves otherwise, but they were planted on the west side of the house, so the only sunlight was from noon on. Planting them next to the front steps was right. They all face west toward the front yard and the street, as opposed to the others on the side garden that face my neighbor's yard instead of mine. And being so close to the front door made for some easy bird watching.

Now, after the seeds are picked out and the heads are left, the plants are producing even more blooms, although small and without stems. They are only about 3-inches in diameter (5 cm), but are popping out between the side shoots and the main stalk.

I would highly recommend these as one of the best dwarf sunflowers, for their habit of producing many side shoots worthy of cutting themselves, for their uniformity, for their proportion of seed head to petals, for their reblooming, and for their ability to attract the messy little piggies.
"Let me rip one of these off to get to the seeds easily. Sorry for the mess."
"Did I do that?"
For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with gypsum & organic amendments
  • Mostly sun, west side of house
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease


Jason said...
They are messy, aren't they? In our garden their favorite plant is the Silphium perfoliatum. I watch them feeding on the seeds, and they drop at least three for every one that they eat.
Swimray said...
What the goldfinches dropped the cardinals watched, learned, and found.