Do you have a sunny spot in your summer garden where the plants need some relief from the sun?
Whether you have shade-loving plants or if you grow cucumbers, pumpkins, or tomatoes, you have probably noticed wilting leaves and/or sunburned foliage after a spell of hot, sunny weather. Often, you will see gardeners pull out shade cloth to help protect these sun-sensitive plants.
But, what if there was another way that was less expensive and a lot more attractive that benefits birds as well?
Would you try it?
One of my vegetables gardens is full of tomatoes that appreciate some afternoon shade. Instead of hauling out expensive shade cloth every summer, I plant sunflowers instead.
These beautiful sunflowers shade my tomato plants from the hot, afternoon sun.
I planted the sunflowers on the west facing side of my tomatoes so that they receive morning sun, which is less intense then afternoon sun. As the sun journeys through the sky toward the west, the sunflowers provide filtered shade for the tomato plants.
Your vegetables aren’t the only ones in the garden that appreciate afternoon shade. So do the birds. I have seen countless birds perching underneath the large flower heads and leaves of my sunflowers. Occasionally, they snack upon the ripening sunflower seeds.
Now I don’t know about you. But, I would rather create ‘green’ shade that has beautiful flowers and only costs about $2 for a packet of seeds. There are many different varieties of sunflowers, all with varying heights. When deciding which variety of sunflower to plant for shade, be sure to check how tall it will grow. You want to select a taller variety if you want to use sunflowers for shade. I selected ‘Mammoth’ sunflowers to grow because they grow 9 – 12 ft. tall with flowers over 1 ft. across.
Would you like to add temporary shade to part of your summer garden? Try growing sunflowers!
To learn more about sunflowers and how to grow them, check out Birds & Blooms article, “Growing Sunflowers”.