How to Grow Sunflowers & Common Mistakes To Avoid

Ready to grow sunflowers? Find out the best time to plant seeds, how much sunlight you need, the right soil type, good and bad companion plants, and care and harvesting tips for growing these annuals. Sunflowers are easy to grow, and often the only challenge is to stop wildlife such as birds and squirrels from stealing the newly planted seeds. But don’t worry, I will show you how to grow sunflowers.

Sunflowers are excellent sun-tolerant plants that require minimal care once the plants have passed the seedling stage. Since they are annuals, you will need to sow new seeds every year. Some can also grow their own. Don’t be surprised if the shoots are a little different from the parents they came from: this is normal for hybrid seeds.

About Sunflower – Grow Sunflowers

The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant with large daisy-like flowers. Its scientific name comes from the Greek words helios (“sun”) and anthos (“flower”). Flowers come in a variety of colors (yellow, red, orange, maroon, brown), but are usually bright yellow with a brown center that matures into heavy, seed-filled heads.

Sunflowers are heliotrope, which means they rotate their flowers to follow the sun’s movement across the sky from east to west, then return to the east at night to prepare for the morning sun again. Sunflowers occur in the early stages, before the flowers are full of seeds.

There are countless varieties of sunflowers out there, so there’s bound to be one that’s right for your garden. Choose those that have branched or single stems, those that produce a lot of pollen or no pollen (best for bouquets) for pollinators, those that stay small or tower over the rest of the garden, or those that produce edible seeds of those! Learn more about why you should grow these cheerful flowers in your garden.

Grow Sunflowers Tips

Full sun: Ideally work 6 to 8 hours a day in a windproof location.
Soil: Fertile, well-drained soil.
Sowing: After the danger of frost has passed.
Good soil temperature: 55°F (13°C) or higher.
Ideal soil temperature: 21° to 25°C (70° to 75°F).
Sowing Instructions: Check your seed pack.
Typically 1 inch deep, seeds are spaced 6 to 36 inches apart, depending on the variety.
Germination: 2 to 10 days.
Days to maturity: 80 to 120 days.
Container Planting: Yes, best for smaller dwarf varieties.
Fertilizer: Amend the soil with good compost. Slow-release granular fertilizers can also be used according to the directions on the product label.
Growing Regions: Sunflowers are native to North America and can be grown annually anywhere from Alaska to Mexico.
It also grows in sunny regions such as Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Steps to grow sunflowers

Annual sunflowers bloom from summer to fall. Depending on the strain, they may take 11-18 weeks to flower from seed sowing. For this reason, it’s a good idea to sow sunflower seeds every few weeks so you have a consistent supply of happy sunflowers throughout the summer.

1. Choosing & Preparing a Planting Site

Find a sunny spot! Sunflowers grow best in direct sunlight (6 to 8 hours a day); they need long, hot summers to bloom.
Choose well-drained soil. It shouldn’t collect water after it rains.
Sunflowers are not fussy, but the soil should not be too tight. Their taproots are long and need to be extended; to prepare a bed, dig 2 feet deep and about 3 feet wide.
They are also less fussy when it comes to soil pH. Sunflowers thrive in slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soils (pH 6.0 to 7.5).
Sunflowers are heavy feeders, so soil needs nutrients rich in organic matter or composted (aged) fertilizer. Or use a granular slow-release fertilizer 8 inches deep into the soil.
If possible, plant sunflowers in sheltered areas, such as: B. Along fences or near buildings. Larger strains can become top-heavy and high winds can be devastating.
Before planting, decide if you want to plant an interesting sunflower tower.

2. Planting Grow Sunflowers seeds in the ground

Sunflowers are sun worshipers and grow best where they get six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Their taproots are long and need to penetrate several feet into the soil, so sunflower plants prefer loose, well-drained, slightly alkaline soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.

Sunflowers are heavy feeders, so they are healthiest and bloom best in nutrient-rich soil mixed with compost or other organic matter.

If you choose a smaller variety, like “Short Stuff” or “Teddy Bear,” you can grow sunflowers in pots. Make sure the pot is deep enough to accommodate your taproot. If you are growing any giant strains over 10 feet tall, plant them in a sheltered area or along a fence so they are sheltered from the wind. Otherwise a gust of wind will overturn them.

3. Cutting Sunflowers for Bouquets

Pinching is a technique used to promote the growth of new stems in plants. Whether or not you prune your sunflowers really depends on what you plan to do while they bloom:

If you are growing sunflowers for competition and want to maximize the height of the plant, it is advisable not to pinch off the growing tips. This is because growth spikes allow the plant to grow taller and give you the extra height you are looking for
If you’re growing sunflowers for picking, pinching off the growing tops will stun the plant, resulting in more blooms.
To prick out a sunflower, use your thumb and forefinger to remove the growing tip of the plant; this should be done once the plant has reached a height of 20 cm to 25 cm (8 to 10 inches).

The plant should reach 1.8-2.2m tall, but you should expect 4 times the number of blooms you normally see, giving you plenty of beautiful blooms to cut and display.

4. Caring for Grow Sunflowers

if the plant is small, water around the roots about 4 inches from the plant. Once the plants are established, water deeply but infrequently to encourage the plants to develop deep roots. Water once a week, a few gallons per plant, or more frequently if the weather is very dry or very hot.

Tall strains may need support to keep them from falling under the weight of the buds. Bamboo or other types of wood work well.

Sunflower flowers have many meanings-min
Sunflower flowers have many meanings-min

Sunflower Seeds: Nutrition and Health Benefits

Grow your own sunflower seeds for a crunchy, nutritious snack. Allow the flowers to dry on or near the stem until the back of the head is brown and the seeds are plump.

To prevent birds and squirrels from getting the seeds, be sure to cover the flower heads with garden wool, cheesecloth, or a paper bag after the seed heads have matured and the petals have fallen off the flowers.

Cut the head off the plant, leaving about 6 inches of stem. Place the head in a container to catch loose seeds.

To remove the seed, place your hand on the seed head and knock out the seed.

If you’re saving seeds for planting, keep them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place until ready to plant.

Caring for sunflowers – Grow Sunflowers

Annual sunflowers need plenty of water. Feed them with tomato feed just before flowering. Don’t allow plants to dry out as very tall varieties will have a job to recover.

Very tall varieties may need the support of a garden cane – especially when growing in an exposed position.

After flowering, leave the faded flower head intact so the birds can feast on the seeds. Once they have eaten their fill pull out the entire plant and put it on the compost heap.

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

Harvest sunflower seeds at the end of the season for a tasty snack and/or replant or feed birds in winter! Read all about harvesting sunflowers here.

Let the flowers dry over or under the stem until the back of the head turns brown, the leaves turn yellow, the petals wilt, and the seeds look plump and a little loose.
Using sharp scissors or pruning shears, cut the head off the plant (about 6 inches below the flower head). Place in a container to catch loose seeds.
Place the sunflower head on a flat, Grow Sunflowers, clean surface and grab a bowl to hold the seeds.
To remove seeds, simply rub your hands over the seeding area and pull them away from the plant, or you can use a fork. Another way to remove them is to rub the sunflower head on an old washboard or something similar. Just grab the head and rub it all over the board as if you were doing laundry.
If you are harvesting seeds for roasting, you can cover the flowers with a thin cloth (such as cheesecloth) and elastic to protect the heads from birds if grow sunflowers.
Alternatively, you can cut the heads off ahead of time and hang them upside down until the seeds dry; hang them indoors or away from birds and mice.
Rinse the sunflower seeds and let them dry for a few hours or overnight.
If you’re saving seeds for transplanting, keep them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place until ready to plant.

>> See more: grow roses from cuttings

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