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|Germination||Spread Ruby Eclipse seeds out across a damp paper towel. Place a second damp paper towel on top of your seeds. Check the paper towels every day to make sure they are damp, NOT WET. Check your seeds every few days for germination. After a week or two your seeds should begin to sprout. The first seeds to sprout will more than likely be your strongest and fastest growing plants. Note that not all of the seeds have sprouted. Plant the sprouted seeds first. Wait a few days on the remaining seeds to see if they in fact sprout. If not, throw them away and start a new batch. It's time to plant. Go ahead and place your seeds about 1/4" deep in the soil and cover them. Place your seeds 12" to 18" apart. Water the plants real well, soaking the soil.
Seeds can also be sown, from April to late June, direct into the flowering position. Lightly cover the seeds and keep the seed bed moist. The optimum temperature for germination is 20øC max and 5øC min. From sowing time to the first cutting will take about 55 days.
Cut flowers in the morning just after they open. Use a clean knife, a clean vase, and a few drops of chlorine bleach in the water, along with Floralife Cut Flower Food, to help maintain freshness. Cutting the mature central flower head will promote side-shoot flower production. Black-hulled sunflower seeds, like Sunseed, are a favorite with seed-eating birds. Harvest the heads when the bracts begin to shrivel, and hang the flowers upside down in a barn or shed. For seed-eating gardeners, gray and white striped sunflower seeds, such as Giganteus, are the leading choice for munching raw, or roasted and salted. Harvest these the same way.
When dry, rub the seeds off the heads and soak overnight in 1 gallon of water with 1 cup of salt added. Drain the water, and then dry the seeds in a 250øF oven for 4-5 hours and store in an airtight container.
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