Want a classic floral winner in your home landscape? Look no further than the Ring of Fire sunflower, a 2001 winner in the All-America Selections, a nonprofit organization that conducts trials of garden plants, with awards for superior performance.
Read on to find out more about the remarkable Ring of Fire sunflower, from its appearance, to how to grow it, to using it to brighten up your home’s interior.
Characteristics of the Ring of Fire Sunflower
The Ring of Fire sunflower plant will typically grow as tall as five feet, with a spread ranging from two to three feet across. Its flowers feature golden-tipped petals finishing out a very deep red color emerging from the flower’s dark brown center.
Ring of Fire sunflower blossoms is five inches across, making it a dramatic presence in your garden as well as on display in your home.
Like some other sunflowers, the Ring of Fire is attractive to birds, bees, and butterflies, adding an extra dimension to your outdoor space.
Growing Your Own Ring of Fire Sunflowers
According to All-America Selections, the Ring of Fire sunflower is a real standout. It will, however, take some time to show its full potential, as it can take as long as 120 days for its richly colored blooms to develop.
But All-America Selections also notes the splash of deep color from the Ring of Fire can add a welcome touch to a flower garden that might be suffering from a lack of colorful drama late in the growing season.
Also late into the growing season, Ring of Fire sunflowers can contribute to the diversity of your backyard, as its seeds are food for a number of species of wildlife.
Planting Ring of Fire sunflowers
Ring of Fire sunflower seeds can be planted directly into the soil after the risk of frost has passed. To allow for the largest possible blooms, seeds should be planted about four inches apart. Planting seeds closer together than four inches will result in smaller blooms.
At whatever distance they are planted, sunflowers generally will do best in full sun.
Ring of Fire sunflowers can be grown from plants started indoors, but direct sowing into the ground is preferred. Seeds should be placed a half-inch into the ground when sowing.
If you do start your sunflowers indoors, you should have them in flats no more than three weeks before you plan to move them to your outdoor landscape.
As your sunflowers are growing, they will need an inch or two of water each week. They should be fertilized two or three times during the growing season.
Sunflowers should first be fertilized when the plants are showing six leaves, with a blend of 20 parts each of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Fertilize your sunflowers again as flowers start to form, with a high-phosphorous blend. Also fertilize just before the flowers bloom, with a nitrogen fertilizer.
Caring for Ring of Fire Sunflowers
As a counterbalance to their exceeding beauty, Ring of Fire sunflowers, like other varieties, are subject to a wide variety of pest and disease problems. Read on for a quick look at the issues with these sunflowers.
Pests common to sunflowers, including Ring of Fire, include sunflower beetles, cutworms, sunflower borers, grasshoppers, and sunflower moths. Sunflower moths are particularly destructive. They lay eggs within flowers, and the larvae feed on flower heads, eventually destroying the plants
Sunflower beetles can be a real problem if they attack young sunflower plants, because they can destroy leaves just as the plants are beginning to grow. Similarly, cutworms attack sunflower leaves, to the point that the leaves may wilt.
Grasshoppers also like to eat sunflower foliage, and if enough of them are present, they can completely defoliate the plants.
Sunflower borers feed by burrowing into the stems of sunflower plants, and in sufficient numbers, can kill an entire plant.
In general, prevention is the best way to avoid problems with sunflower pests. Planting your sunflowers late in the season, in June or July, is one strategy, and keeping weeds and debris out of your sunflower garden also helps.
There are insecticides available for dealing with sunflower pests, but those using organic ingredients are the safest choice.
Of the diseases that can affect the Ring of Fire sunflower, three are worthy of particular attention — white mold, downy mildew, and rust.
White mold thrives in wet soil, entering sunflower plants through the roots, dead plant tissue, or flowers. Neem oil, a naturally occurring substance, is effective against white mold. Interestingly, two common household substances, ethanol-based mouthwash, and vinegar may also be effective.
Downy mildew often appears on the underside of leaves in places where it is cool and the soil is saturated with water. Among other things, it limits sunflowers’ seed production. The application of fungicide is one of the only management tools for addressing it.
Rust is caused by a pathogen that develops amid plant debris from previous growing seasons. It produces rust-colored pustules on sunflower plants and can cut yields, particularly in commercial settings. It is relatively easy to treat with fungicides.
Using Ring of Fire Sunflowers in Home Decor
The golden edges of the Ring of Fire sunflower petals, combined with the rich red hue of the rest of the bloom and the dark brown at the flower’s center, make it a striking addition to table centerpieces and other decorative uses.
The colors of this sunflower variety, plus its availability in the fall, make it a great seasonal decor choice, as it reflects many of the colors of nature as tree leaves everywhere begin to take on some of the same hues.
Additionally, the long stems of this sunflower make the blooms perfect as a cut flower for indoor display.
Where to Buy Ring of Fire Sunflower Seeds
If you’d like to try growing your own Ring of Fire sunflowers, seeds are available from True Leaf Market. You should also check your local garden center or home supply store.
Also, if a friend or neighbor is growing these sunflowers, you could ask to harvest some seeds as the plants are winding down their growing season.
Wrapping up the Ring of Fire Sunflower
We hope this post has taught you about the role the Ring of Fire sunflower can play in your home landscape, along with how to care for it. For more on the fascinating world of sunflowers, check out our Sunflower Page.