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Surprise! 6-year-old Nebraska girl grows 19-foot sunflower to cheer up mom

August 6, 2017 GMT

A little Nebraska girl has grown a really big sunflower.

Six-year-old Laurali Polacek planted sunflower seeds last fall in her backyard in Wisner.

One of the sunflowers has grown to 19 feet, a size that Nebraska Extension says is definitely taller than the norm. Sunflowers typically grow 10 to 12 feet.

The flower also surpassed the 15-footer that a Ralston couple had in their backyard two years ago.

The girl’s mom, Abby Polacek, said her daughter knew how sad she was about the September death of 14-year-old Trouble, the family’s shar-pei mix. So Laurali planted the flower to honor the family’s dog.

“She is a bighearted kid,” her mom said. “She was trying to make me happy by doing something beautiful.”

The family received a sunflower head from friends last year. Laurali, who learned to garden from her mom, planted seeds from it in a raised garden bed.

Polacek said she didn’t know that her daughter had planted the seeds until the sunflowers started sprouting this spring.

The big flower didn’t get any fertilizer or other special treatment, Polacek said — just lots of sun and water like the other sunflowers in the garden.

Though it’s a tall one, it’s not as big as the world’s tallest. Guinness World Records says that Hans-Peter Schiffer’s 30-foot-1 sunflower in Germany was the world’s tallest.

But Polacek’s flower still stands out. She said neighbors and others in Wisner comment about the towering flower.

Russ Breitkreutz, who lives nearby, said it’s hard to miss.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “You can’t believe how tall it is.”

michael.oconnor@owh.com, 402-444-1122