Sunflowers are beautiful, easy to grow, and attract many kinds of birds to the garden. This is a guide about growing sunflowers.
Sunflowers are perhaps the most cheerful and endearing native flower in the United States. For centuries, Native American tribes have harvested these versatile flowers for a variety of nutritional, medicinal and spiritual purposes. Today, they are grown on virtually every continent in the world. Here are some helpful hints for growing and harvesting your own.
When purchasing seeds, keep in mind that most commercial varieties of sunflowers seeds are hybrids. This won't make a difference when consuming the seeds, but if your planning on collecting seed for future stock, look for heirloom varieties instead. Seeds should be planted at a depth of 2 inches and spaced 12 inches apart in rows spaced 24 inches apart. Tall varieties or those with extra large heads will need more space. Germination occurs quickly, usually within 7-10 days (often sooner). Most varieties reach maturity in 80-90 days.
The twenty-day period leading up to harvest is the most critical time in the development of sunflower seeds. Avoid placing water stress on plants during this time (either too much or too little) and keep soil moisture levels as consistent as possible.
Non-Insect Pests: Birds and Squirrels love sunflower seeds as much as the gardeners that grow them. Because sunflower seeds mature right around the time these critters are gearing up for fall, your sunflower crop can quickly become ransacked if not protected. Cover sunflower heads with nylon stockings, cheesecloth or paper bags to make robbing the seeds more difficult. Avoid growing your sunflowers near fences or low buildings that offer quick access to squirrels.
Insect Pests: Sunflower moths (the larvae), aphids and white flies are the primary insect pests to watch out for. Sunflowers need bees for pollination, so the use of chemical insecticides isn't recommended. Aphids and white flies can usually be kept under control by periodically spraying your sunflowers with a strong jet of water. Delaying planting until late May or early June will reduce the likelihood of sunflower moth problems.
Any tips for growing sunflowers?
I agree, just lots of sun. Sunflowers are super easy, you shouldn't have a big problem.
We live on a hill, good breeze & wind all the time and our soil is a bit on the clay-ey side. I just plant the seeds, water them every now & then and basically leave them alone. They grow beautifully. The ones I planted on Mar. 3rd are about 4" tall now and doing great, even with a couple of late season light frosts.
Yes, they're quite easy! Good luck & have fun with them!
I tried to grow these 20 years ago, but a big storm took them away. Now I have been growing the biggest I have ever seen for the last two years. I love watching them grow; it is fabulous.
I feed all birds and they always leave me a gift of Sunflowers. I have hundreds of sunflowers, just from birdseed.
By PJ from Oklahoma
I have entered a competition to grow the tallest sunflower. At the moment it is three feet, but has started to come into flower. Will this stop the plant from growing taller?
It will probably stop now. You will probably get more blooms and they will be a bit taller.
Here's a guide if you would like to try again: http://www.sunflowerguide.com/giant-sunflower.html
I captured these photos of a goldfinch eating the sunflower seeds from our flowers in our front garden. I took the pictures from inside looking through our glass doors.
I captured these photos of the bees on our sunflowers busy pollinating the flowers.
I have been growing very special sunflowers for two years now. They seem to really take off as soon as I put the seed in the ground. It is almost magical.
Tips for growing sunflowers from the ThriftyFun community.
Plant them in full sun.
Plant seeds 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart (or according to package directions). Water well after planting.
Seedlings usually germinate within a week or two and take 80-90 days to reach maturity.
For taller plants that flower earlier, start them in 4 inch peat pots indoors.
Seedlings are usually thinned to 12-18 inches apart, but can be plants more closely together in containers.
Russian Giants, Kong, and Mammoth varieties grow as tall as 15 feet and have flower heads as large as 20" in diameter. You'll need a pot at least 15" inches deep and 15" in diameter (or larger) to grow these giants.
Sunflower roots grow deep and spread wide so make sure you use a large enough container.
Tall plants may need staking.
Keep the soil in your containers moist and fertilize them with a 1/2 strength organic liquid fertilizer every two weeks.
Sunflowers need lots of water (plants 6 feet tall can consume 8 gallons per week), but over-watering them can cause deformed seed heads. Use well-drained soil and keep the soil in your containers evenly moist. Water seedling deeply once per week for the first month so they develop deep roots. After that, water your sunflowers lightly every day.
By Sunflower Queen
I have found feeding your flowers with a nice solution of plant food makes your blooms look wonderful. . .
Are sunflowers perennials? Do they re-grow each year or do you have to plant new seeds every year?
Hardiness Zone: 6a
By Mark from Birmingham, MI
While most sunflowers are annuals and the seeds have to be replanted every year, there ARE some very similar to sunflowers that are perennials, depending on the SIZE that you want. Check out by googling or ask etc to ask what is similar to sunflowers but are perennials. I know that helleniums (I am not sure of the spelling), and I think Mullins are similar, if you want tall ones. But if you want true sunflowers, you must plant every year! (But they are sure worth it in beauty!)
Sunflowers are annuals, but do self-seed! Mulliens look like overgrown Foxglove, are annuals too, and also self-seed prolifically. They are not nearly as pretty as sunflowers, and can be quite invasive and do only come in yellow! Helleniums are family members and some are perennials. There are so many beautiful Sunflowers, it is just fun to plant different colors/versions each year. They are varied from creamy whites, to beautiful deep burgundies, even multi-colored!