Most people think of sunflowers as lovely, giant flowers. But in Texas, sunflowers are also a crop that thrives in dry, warm conditions. Sunflowers have a hearty root system that stretches deep into the ground to draw out nutrients, minerals and moisture the plant needs to grow so it can survive on less rainfall than some other crops.
Contrary to popular belief, only the unopened buds ‘follow the sun’ with their ‘face’ during the day. Once in bloom, the plant only faces east to protect itself from the hot afternoon summer sun. A few weeks after reaching full bloom, the heads will begin to turn brown, droop, and fill with seeds. As they bend down, they create their own ‘umbrella’ to protect the seeds from birds, the rain and sun.
Many of the plants are harvested for the seeds which will be crushed into sunflower oil. Some farmers grow a different variety of Sunflowers for seeds that provide a healthy snack.
Like the farmers who grow them, sunflowers are sturdy and drought-tolerant…and are able to weather hard times!