Updated: Feb 23, 2022
I field many questions about Van Gogh's Fantasy. However, there are some realities of this flower that are important for growers to know...
The reason it has taken so long to get this far with Van Gogh's Fantasy is that this sunflower is not a genetic hybrid. These are open-pollinated flowers. For years, I was just trying for a breakthrough to get a naturally occurring double flowering plant that had more than a few seeds. Most of these flowers produce very little viable seed.
You can see from the photo that only a few dozen seeds (the black ones) even have the potential of being viable. This is because the face of the flower, where the reproductive parts are, is covered in petals. Most produce pollen, just not a lot of it. Some flowers do have a lot of pollen but they have a hard time being pollinated because the pollen has a hard time getting to the face due to all of the petals covering it.
So, this flower is good for the bees and butterflies, it's just not a super seed producer. Therefore, I have to plant about 3 times as much land just to yield the same number of seeds as a hybrid. It is so disappointing when I flag a crazy beautiful flower and try and propagate it, and then when I clean it down there are no viable seeds.
After 13 years, I have identified certain flowers that have “the right stuff” and I am seeing more seed viability per plant. But, every time I start a new color scheme it will take several years to get to a mass production level.
Also, to keep them from reverting back to singles, we must continually cull the fields to retain the double genetics. So, from me, you will never get a complete clone. You will get similar-looking flowers. Think of the variety as a surprise and something that makes the Van Gogh's Fantasy sunflower special.
I’m not a plant geneticist, I’m just a flower farmer who saw something beautiful, collected it, planted it, and then let God and nature do the rest.