How to make your garden bloom

The West's best flowers for borders, beds, bouquets, and containers

How to grow flowers organically

Los Angeles farmer Tara Kolla shares her secrets to growing great blooms, using organic methods

Photos by Coral Von Zumwalt

Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)

Winning qualities: They’re the “essence of summer,” as Kolla says, and they’re especially easy to grow.

Favorite varieties: ‘Bright Bandolier’ and ‘Cinnamon Sun’ ( are multibranching, so they look better in bouquets than the mammoth, single-flowered types.

When to plant: Sow seeds in spring where plants are to grow, or start them in small pots, then transplant after first true leaves appear.

Growing tip: For beefy stalks that can support lots of flowers, bury the seedlings’ bottom inch or two of stem with soil when transplanting them to garden beds.


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