So, I won’t lie – I’m starting to really enjoy writing these posts, and somehow they’ve managed to morph into reviews. I personally like the direction that I’ve taken because I know I like to extensively investigate anything that I plan to grow, and one aspect of that is seeing what other gardeners with real-life experience have to say about the varieties I’m trying. Obviously, conditions will vary from year to year, but it’s good to know at least a baseline of you may expect during the growing season. Another reason I do so much “Googling” when I’m planning the garden is because I don’t trust seed catalogs. Now, call me crazy, but I’m sure almost everyone has ordered something online thinking it was one color, and then gotten something pretty different when it actually bloomed in their yard. When I see flowers and veggies on peoples’ personal blogs, I feel a certain reassurance that I’ll get what I want.
“Brilliance” is a part of the rather large Pro-cut series, which consists of pollen-free, day-neutral varieties that are absolutely perfect for cut flowers. The term “pollen-free” is pretty self-explanatory. This just means that the flowers won’t be producing that yellow pollen that would potentially drop all over your table when you pick them and make a mess everywhere. Simply, day neutral, refers to the fact that the plants will flower regardless of the length of the day/nights. Remember those sunflowers your great granny would plant? You’d wait all summer long, and they’d finally bloom near the fall, all at once? Those probably weren’t day neutral, rather they waited until the nights/days were a specific length. Nature is pretty thoughtful like that.
Anyway, I really think that “Brilliance” is a pretty sweet number. This is a non-branching variety which will produce one flower per stalk. However, in my experience, if you choose to leave the “beheaded” stalk in the garden, it will try to produce additional flower heads. These flowers have very short stems, are drastically smaller, and may even be somewhat deformed. So, in the long run, it’s not worth it (I just pull out the stalks right after they flower and pitch them into the compost).
These sunflowers will bloom in about 50-55 days, which means that they are a great bet for succession planting. My initial goal for this year was ten plantings, though life got in the way of those plans. Bloom time is very consistent and makes for easy harvest. Of the 30 sunflower plants that were planted ‘just because’ in my front yard, 25 of 30 flowers opened within 24 hours of each other. The others did so within 3 days, not sure why they were delayed.
“Brilliance”, so far, has completely lived up to its name. This season has been quite a wild one. The summer began with some pretty intense heat, in the 90s by May. Following the heat wave was what I could only describe as a “rainy season”. Though my Kentucky climate is hardly tropical, we’ve endured at least 3 weeks of what feels like, constant rain. More is still in the forecast for the next week or so, and I’ve almost given up on trying to walk in the garden. The heavy clay soil is so waterlogged that the standing puddles beneath the weed barrier fabric have started to grow algae, and walking is impossible lest you sink to your ankles in silt. Many plants have turned brown and died in this mess, but the “Brilliance” are staying strong (aside from a few yellowed bottom leaves).
The flowers themselves have a dark center and gorgeous yellow petals that fade to a darker color towards the center disk. The size of the flowers can be very uniform depending upon spacing and soil fertility. More space will yield a larger flower, while closer will give you something a little smaller. Stalks grow to a shorter height than some sunflowers – about 4-5 ft. in my garden. This height is just another aspect that makes harvesting these beauties easier. Like all sunflowers, they’re incredibly easy to plant. All you’ve got to do is wait until the soil has warmed and the chance of frost has passed to direct sow where you want them to grow. I definitely recommend giving these a try! If you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask! Much love!