sunshine on a stem

new mexican sunflower
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new mexican sunflower
mammoth sunflower

by Elaine D. Briseño

Bring the beauty of sunflowers into your yard and home

The glowing radiance of bright sunflowers silhouetted against a blazing New Mexico horizon—there’s just nothing like it. What better way to view these ancient Southwestern blooms than from your own window? Planting sunflowers infuses a sense of warmth and happiness in outdoor spaces, and you can clip them and bring them indoors for a fresh bouquet of summer sun right on your countertop. The bright, bold appearance of these blossoms make them one of the most popular flowers, appearing in famous artwork, on fabrics, apparel and dishes, and they are often the backdrop for photo shoots.

Their statuesque nature never fails to garner a second look and there’s no shortage of choices when it comes to these sun worshippers. There are more than 70 varieties of sunflowers and they come in both annual and perennial assortments.

You’ll often see Maximilian Daisy, also called the New Mexico sunflower, smiling sweetly alongside the highway, greeting everyone who glances their way.

Natalie Sept from the Plants of the Southwest shop in Los Ranchos says that sunflowers are a perfect addition to any low-water landscape and the mammoth sunflower is a top choice. This is probably the most noticeable and memorable member of the sunflower family. Glowing fields of these giant blossoms are often seen on farms, but their outstanding beauty can grace almost any private garden space. This herculean flower grows up to 12 feet tall, stretching its face upward to mark the daily progress of the sun.

The Maximilian Daisy, also called the New Mexico sunflower, is another natural choice here. This five- to eight-foot-tall perennial flower doesn’t have quite the stature of the mammoth, but rewards observers with a burst of color swaying softly in the breeze. You’ll often see these smiling sweetly alongside the highway, greeting everyone who glances their way. Its bushy appearance features dozens of radiant yellow blooms. According to the Plants of the Southwest website, you should cut them to the ground each winter, so they expand the following growing season.

Consider spicing things up by adding some color. The red sun sunflower performs an optical symphony of red, orange and yellow hues. This sunflower has multiple flowering heads. You’ll never be wanting for visual stimulation with this gorgeous bloom in your backyard. The colorful petals make a nice addition to any windowsill. Bring cuttings inside to add a pop of color or poke the shoots into non-flowering plants for a festive display for your next gathering.

Any of these outstanding beauties will create a sense of tranquility in any size outdoor space. Not long after they birth their colorful petals, the soft whir of hummingbirds, buzz of bees and bright wings of butterflies are sure to follow.