Sunflower Helianthus annuus is native to the United States and was domesticated by American Indians many centuries ago. Sunflowers exhibit wide variation and are grown worldwide for multiple purposes, including cut flowers. The present cut flower study involved 23 cultivars, three local environments, and performances data included in seed company catalogs, for cut flower production in Central Kentucky. Plant development data included seedling emergence, stem diameter, days to flowering, height at flowering, number of heads (marketable and nonmarketable) per plant, head diameter, vase life, and personal preference. There were evidences of both genetic and environmental variations for the plant characteristics. Flowering heads were rated as pleasing by florists and laypersons. The number of heads produced by some combinations of cultivars and environments would support profitable production. Further refinement is needed in the harvesting schedule and handling to reduce frequency of nonmarketable heads, to extend vase life, and to permit shipping greater distances. The results indicated that cut flowers have potential as a niche crop for Central Kentucky.
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