How to Grow Sunflowers Properly

Sunflower

Sunflower

Emma Downey

Emma Downey
Gardening Expert

Updated on 12/8/2022

Gain an understanding of the intricacies involved in cultivating sunflowers. It is not difficult to plant these cheerful and airy flowering plants. Even more straightforward is the task of developing them.
Sunflowers are the quintessential summer flowering plant. The cheerfully sunny blossoms sit atop each stem like a beaming grin. Sunflower plants are resistant to both heat and pests, and they also overgrow. This makes them very easy to cultivate. Since they are indigenous to North America, they are able to adjust to the climate of most different areas. Here we are going to learn how to grow sunflowers.

You can harvest and consume their seeds, use them as cut flowers, or leave them on the stalks to create a beautiful outdoor show in your garden. All three options are available to you. The following is a guide for growing sunflowers.

Sunflower

Sunflower

Sunflowers 101

Annual plants are what sunflowers are. They resemble giant daisies and have bright yellow (and occasionally red or brown) petals that radiate outward from brown centers to form a head that ripens into a charge that is full of seeds.

The Meaning and Symbolism of Sunflowers

Explore the symbolism that lies behind one of the most recognizable and cherished blooming plants: the sunflower.

Sunflowers are hardy plants that can grow to be quite tall, with some types reaching a height of 14 feet. Some of the dwarf varieties, which grow to a size of only one foot, are suitable for growing in containers or in smaller gardens. Sunflowers are an excellent option for a wildlife or pollinator garden due to the fact that many types entice bees and birds, both of whom consume sunflower nectar and seeds.

Sunflower

Sunflower

Helianthus annuus is the botanical name for this plant.

Also known as Sunflower

The Hardiness Zones range from 2 to 11.

Bloom Time: Most sunflower cultivars bloom for many weeks in July.

Putting in Sunflowers for Planting

Sunflower

Sunflower

The following is a guide to selecting the ideal location and environment for each of your plants.

  • Sunflowers are devoted to the sun and have a preference for locations that receive between six and eight hours of direct sunlight each day.
  • Because sunflower plants have long tap roots that need to go several feet into the earth, the soil in which they are grown prefers to be loose, well-drained, and somewhat alkaline, with a pH ranging anywhere from 6.0 to 7.5.
  • Sunflowers are heavy feeders, which means that they will be the healthiest and produce the most blooms in nutrient-rich soil that has had compost or other organic matter added to it. Sunflowers will also make the most blooms in full sun.

sunflower

sunflower

  • Sunflowers can be grown successfully in containers provided you select a dwarf variety such as "Short Stuff" or "Teddy Bear." Check that the container has a depth that can handle the plant's tap root.
  • If you are planting one of the enormous types that may reach a height of 10 feet or more, you should plant them in an area that is shielded from the wind and either inside a building or along the side of a fence. If they are not secured, a strong gust of wind could blow them over.

When Should Sunflowers Be Planted?

Sunflower

Sunflower

  • It is best to wait to plant seeds until the spring frost threat has gone and the soil temperature has reached at least 60 degrees. Depending on where you reside, this will take place during the months of March and May.
  • Although you can start sunflower plants from seed that you sow directly into the ground or buy starter plants from a nursery or home improvement store, starting sunflower plants from seed is the easiest way to grow them. If you withdraw your sunflowers from seed, you'll have access to a wider selection of cultivars. Additionally, growing sunflowers from seed is a really simple process.

Instructions for Sowing Sunflower Seeds.

seeds

seeds

  • Plant the seeds at a depth of no more than one inch and space them around six inches apart. Once the seedlings reach a height of 6 inches, you should thin them down so that the strongest plants are spaced about 12 inches apart.
  • If you want your flowers to bloom continuously, stagger your planting by starting in the spring and spreading a fresh row of seeds once every two to three weeks. This type of planting, which is known as succession planting, will ensure that you have a steady supply of flowers right up until the first frost.
  • How much time does it take for sunflowers to mature into their full size? It might take anywhere from 80 to 120 days, depending on the variety, for the plant to bloom once the seed has been planted in the ground.

Buy Seeds

seed

seed

Sunflower Seeds Shaped Like a "Teddy Bear"
$6.95 \sBURPEE

Sunflower Seeds Called "Mammoth"
$4.95 \sBURPEE

"Tiger Eye" Hybrid Sunflower Seeds
$6.95 \sBURPEE

How to Take Care of Sunflowers

Sunflower

Sunflower

  • When the plant is still young, moisten the soil around the roots, keeping the water around 4 inches away from the plants themselves.
  • After the plant has been established, water it well but seldom to stimulate the plant's development of extensive root systems. You should water your plants once a week with several gallons of water per plant, and you should water them more frequently if the weather is really dry or extremely hot.
  • There is a possibility that taller kinds will require staking in order to prevent them from falling over due to the weight of their flowers—the stakes made of bamboo or other types of wood function quite effectively.
    Insects and animal diseases.

Pests and diseases 

Sunflower

Sunflower

  • The plants are susceptible to catching fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, rust, and downy mildew. Apply an all-purpose garden fungicide to the affected surfaces of the leaves.

Creating Sunflower Bouquets Through the Art of Cutting

Sunflower

Sunflower

  • Take cuttings of flowers first thing in the morning, before the heat of the day has a chance to stress the plants. When blossoms are harvested in the middle of the day on a hot day, it can cause the flowers to fade before their time.
  • When growing kinds of sunflowers that produce numerous stems, cutting the main stem of the plant before the bud has opened will encourage the plant to produce more blooms on the sides of the stem. This is true even for sunflowers that branch into multiple stems. It's a good idea to buy more flowers.
  • Take care not to rip the petals off of cut flowers by handling them roughly. Sunflowers that have been cut can be preserved for about a week in water at room temperature.

Collecting Seeds from a Sunflower.

Sunflower

Sunflower

  • After the petals have fallen off, the center of the sunflower, which is brown, will eventually develop into a seed head. You can harvest them and consume them (seeds make a nutrient-rich snack), or you can preserve the seeds to transplant them into your garden the following year. Either way, you have two options. Follow these steps if you want to produce sunflowers so that you can harvest the seed later and consume it:
  • It is best to make the flower to dry either on or off the stalk until the back of the head goes brown, and the seeds become plump.
  • After the seed heads have matured and the petals have fallen off of the blooms, you will need to cover the flower heads with garden fleece, cheesecloth, or a paper bag to prevent birds and squirrels from obtaining the seed. Covering the flower heads in any of these three materials will work.

Sunflower

Sunflower

  • Remove the plant's head while leaving around 6 inches of stalk behind. Put the head in a bowl or other container to catch any seeds that fall off.
  • Simply brushing your palm over the seed head will knock the seeds loose, allowing you to remove them.
  • If you wish to save the sunflower seeds to plant later, put them in a container that won't let air in and keep them in a dry, cold spot until planting time.

Varieties That Come Highly Suggested

Sunflower

Sunflower

  • There are many different kinds of sunflowers, ranging from giants that can grow to be more than 14 feet tall to dwarfs that never get taller than one foot. The following are some of our top picks:
  • Little Becka Sunflower, One of Many Varieties of Sunflowers
    Different types of tall and dwarf sunflowers.
    With this variety of dwarf and mega kinds, you may cultivate sunflowers in a container or create an entire sunflower forest.
  • Traditional huge sunflowers are of the variety known as "Russian Mammoth," which can reach heights of more than 12 feet and have blooms with a circumference equal to that of dinner plates. You or the birds can enjoy the nibbles that are provided by the plant's seeds.

Sunflower

Sunflower

  • The lovely cultivar is known as "Autumn Beauty" produces flowering stems that branch out and have blooms in shades of yellow, orange, bronze, and red. On plants that can reach a height of 6 feet, the flowers can be up to 6 inches across.
  • The 'Lemon Queen' cultivar produces large, pale yellow flowers that range anywhere from 4" to 5" in diameter and have brown chocolate centers. The plants can reach a height up to of 6 feet and have several branches.
  • The 'Teddy Bear' type is a dwarf that only reaches a height of two feet. This miniature sunflower is perfect for growing in containers and other limited spaces. It has golden blossoms that are fluffy and velvety, and its diameter is around 6 inches. These blossoms make beautiful cut flowers.

Sunflower

Sunflower

Garden Design Suggestions

Sunflower

Sunflower

Because certain types of sunflowers can grow very tall and cast their shadow on other plants, you should avoid planting sun-loving companion plants too close to these types of sunflowers.

Sunflowers, particularly tall kinds, are ideal for use as a screen, either towards the back of a border bed or along a fence.

Varieties that are not as tall can be planted in containers or in the midst of a border.