© Fleuroselect

New plants: Helianthus ‘Lemon Cutie’

Dwarf sunflowers for small gardens and containers are always in demand, but often fail to live up to the hype. ‘Lemon Cutie’ however, from the world’s leading sunflower breeder, looks the real deal

What’s so special about Helianthus ‘Lemon Cutie’?

‘Lemon Cutie’ looks to have everything we need in a dwarf sunflower.

The plant reaches no more than 60cm (2ft) in height, with its first flower being about 15cm (6in) across. After the first flower, the plant branches at every leaf joint, producing a succession of smaller, mainly outward-facing flowers from July to September.

Each flower has a ring of slender lemon yellow petals, surrounding a shorter mass of rolled petals in a richer yellow hue, and all around a honeyed eye. As the flowers develop, the tightly packed petals in the centre lengthen and unroll.

One interesting feature of ‘Lemon Cutie’ is that the flowers produce a great deal of nectar, making the flowers very popular with pollinating insects, but no pollen. So if you cut the flowers for the house there will be no need to clean up pollen that drops on the furniture.

More importantly, some people are allergic to sunflower pollen, so growing ‘Lemon Cutie’ avoids the risk of an allergic reaction.

‘Lemon Cutie’ was awarded a 2023 Gold Medal by Fleuroselect, the impartial organisation that assesses new flower cultivars all across Europe.

Where did ‘Lemon Cutie’ come from?

Helianthus annuus ‘Lemon Cutie’ was developed by California sunflower specialists NuFlowers, under the leadership of geneticist Dr. Tom Heaton. NuFlowers has been developing new varieties of sunflower for professional cut-flower growers and home gardeners since 1994, and trials about four hundred possible new varieties every year.
Cut flowers have always been their speciality but, especially in recent years, dwarf varieties for gardeners and landscapers have become increasingly important.

Growing Helianthus ‘Lemon Cutie’

‘Lemon Cutie’ is ideal in small sunny borders, along pathways, and in containers on patios and decks. The flowers last very well when cut, but the stems are short.
Sow the seeds outside in April, where you’d like the plants to flower. Sow seeds about 15cm (6in) apart, and when the plants reach about 10cm (4in) tall, carefully dig up alternate plants and plant them elsewhere.
Alternatively, sow the seeds individually in 10cm (4in) pots of fresh seed compost, and grow them outside in a sheltered spot before planting them out in their final flowering site in May.

Where can I buy Helianthus ‘Lemon Cutie’?

You can buy seed of Helianthus annuus ‘Lemon Cutie’ from Plants of Distinction, Suttons, Dobies and Nicky’s Nursery, as well as some garden centres.

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