The Q&A Archives: Sunflower Stem Rotting

Question: About 2 months ago I planted a row of Mammoth Sunflowers which have been growing like mad. Yesterday I noticed that the largest one's (about 6 feet high) leaves were wilted. I felt one of the leaves and as I did, the flower fell over at about halfway up the stalk where it appeared to have rotted away. (I didn't tug on it). Any ideas? The others seem fine for now.

Answer: I talked to a friend of mine who grows sunflowers in his market garden. He said that because they absorb so much water and grow so quickly, sunflowers have a tendency towards what is called "lodging" or bending over from the weight of the flower. Depending on weather conditions, wind, etc., there could be a break in the skin. Whenever that happens, the plant is susceptible to bacteria or disease which causes rotting. As long as your other plants look fine, it shouldn't be a problem. I hope this info helps, and if you notice other problems, send another email to the database so we can get to the bottom of it!

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