Easy to grow from seed, sunflowers are not only attractive with large colorful flowers.
They are fast growing, hardy in the heat of summer and with careful planting can offer shade to other plants, especially newly planted ones.
These are are annual plants and planting sunflower seed in spring will give you a wonderful display in late summer.
Helianthus annus is the botanical name and Sunflowers are not only a popular flowering annual. They have been grown for centuries as a commercial food crop as well as to produce oil.
Plants are usually grown from sunflower seeds collected from previous years and will grow in USDA Zones 3 – 9 depending on variety.
So to start
Choose your seeds, sunflowers come as giant and dwarf varieties, as well as in a range of flower colors. You can use ‘Pet store’ bird sunflower seeds, they are cheaper. However you will not know what type you are planting.
How to plant sunflower seeds
- Sunflowers do not transplant that well. They should be planted directly into the soil.
- Sunflowers need lots of sun. In colder climates they can be started in biodegradable pots that then can be directly planted into the soil.
- When to plant. – Seeds are best planted in spring, the danger of frosts should be over and the soil should be warming up.
Seven Steps to Sunflower Success.
- Choose a position in full sun, you need 8 hours of sun a day for great sunflowers.
- Dig the soil over well adding some well rotted compost, blood and bone and a little aged manure.
- Plant seeds at around 1 inch deep. We plant in clumps of 3 and later thin out the the two weakest plants.
- Plant clumps at 18 inches to 24 inches apart. The larger the flower head, the further apart.
- Water newly planted seeds in with some liquid seaweed fertilizer, repeat this watering every second day until the seeds sprout.
- Once the seedlings have sprouted, select the weakest in each clump and remove them. Otherwise plants and those potential flower heads will be over crowded.
- If you are growing those varieties with the ‘giant flowers’ and you are growing them in a windy position, you may need to stake the
Once they are established in early summer you will find sunflowers are particularly hardy and also drought tolerant. They have deep root systems and will not need a lot of water.
Care of sunflowers once planted.
- Do not water the foliage of the plants with a hose, try to keep the stem and foliage dry.
- Sunflower seeds are ready to harvest as the flowers die back. You will need to cover the seed heads with a stocking to prevent the birds from getting them first.
- Once the seeds are dry you can collect them
- Yes you can grow sunflowers in large (deep) containers, however you will need to stake them