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Garden experiment produces sky-high sunflowers

Noah Scherber, 10, planted these mammoth sunflowers in early May at his Hoffman home. Every two weeks, his mother took photos of him next to the sunflowers. The photo with the shortest plants was taken eight weeks after planting them, and the next was 10 weeks. The plants now measure about 11 feet tall and are still growing. (Contributed)1 / 3
Noah Scherber, 10, planted these mammoth sunflowers in early May at his Hoffman home. Every two weeks, his mother took photos of him next to the sunflowers. The photo with the shortest plants was taken eight weeks after planting them, and the next was 10 weeks. The plants now measure about 11 feet tall and are still growing. (Contributed)2 / 3
Noah Scherber, 10, planted these mammoth sunflowers in early May at his Hoffman home. Every two weeks, his mother took photos of him next to the sunflowers. The photo with the shortest plants was taken eight weeks after planting them, and the next was 10 weeks. The plants now measure about 11 feet tall and are still growing. (Contributed)3 / 3

When 10-year-old Noah Scherber planted four mammoth sunflower seeds outside his Hoffman home in early May, he didn't expect any of them to take.

But now, three and a half months later, two of the plants tower over him, standing approximately 11 feet tall.

Scherber, who attends the Swan River Montessori Charter School in Monticello, obtained the seeds from the Plantmobile, a vehicle that travels from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum with the purpose of plant and science education.

"We got to plant other sunflowers in a pot, and they were 2 feet tall," he said. "But I wanted to plant my 12-foot sunflower seeds so I decided to do it here."

Scherber's mother, Deanna, says she was surprised by the rate at which the plants grew.

"We didn't even think they were going to take," she said. "We put white flags next to each one so we would know they weren't weeds. Every two weeks we would take a picture next to it and it just kept growing."

However, according to Robin Trott, U of M Extension Educator, it's not unusual for certain species of sunflowers to reach such heights.

"There are several varieties of sunflowers that grow this tall," she said. "Skyscraper and Mammoth are two varieties I know of."

In addition to providing Scherber and other students with seeds, the Plantmobile also educated them about the habits of sunflowers.

"When they die, they tilt their heads down," Scherber said. "They always face the sun. They move like a bow because the sun goes up in a circle."

After these sunflowers reach their peak and begin to wither, Scherber says he has a plan for the seeds.

"We're going to put them around our fence, but not in front of the gate," he said. "If we have extras, we're going to roast them. I like sunflower seeds."

As for anyone who wants to try growing their own sunflowers, Scherber has one piece of advice.

"Water them for 30 seconds every day," he said.

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

(320) 763-1233
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