How To Grow Sunflowers in 4 Steps
Have you ever wondered how to grow sunflowers in your garden? In this article, we will outline the easy 4 steps you need to take to grow a beautiful sunflowers garden.
Sunflowers are great fun to grow and are ideal for inspiring kids to get involved with gardening, The big, cheerful blooms of the sunflower follow the sun throughout the day and provide food and resting places for birds. They have a profound meaning too! To discover their symbolism, check out our Sunflower Meaning and Symbolism article.
Sunflower heights range from dwarf to giant, and the bloom colors range from yellow, red, to tri-color. These eye-catching flowers will bloom for several months during the summer and make long-lasting cut flowers.
Discover how to care for sunflowers so you can grow some in containers and/or in the garden this summer.
As their name indicates, sunflowers love the sun, so select a planting location that is in full sun.
They are not picky about soil conditions and will grow anywhere except in heavy clay or soil that remains soggy.
A location that provides shelter from wind will be needed when growing the tallest varieties outdoors. Varieties like the American Giant or Skyscraper will reach 12-15 feet tall and be top-heavy and high winds can easily cause them to topple over and break. A sheltered location, like along a fence or near a structure, will provide them with protection from high winds.
Sunflowers are very heavy feeders and need to be planted in soil that is rich in nutrients. Place 4-inches of compost on top of the soil and work it down to 8-inches. This will keep the soil from compacting and provide plenty of nutrition for the fast-growing plants throughout summer.
You can also add your favorite type of slow-release plant food to the soil at this time too.
When growing sunflowers in a container, select potting soil that contains compost and slow-release fertilizer.
Wait until all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to 55 degrees F or warmer before planting seeds. Place seeds 1 1/2-inches deep and 6-inches apart in prepared soil (in-ground or in a container). Cover seeds with soil, gently pat down, then water thoroughly.
Plant seeds every two weeks from the last spring frost until late spring to prolong the bloom time.
After the seeds germinate and the plants are 6-inches tall thin them out according to their mature size. Varieties that grow lateral branches will need 2-3 feet to spread out and tall-growing varieties won’t need that much space and can be thinned out to 1-foot apart.
Caring for your Sunflowers
* Birds love sunflower seeds and will scratch in the soil and dig them up for a quick meal. If birds go after the freshly planted seeds spread bird netting on top of the soil to prevent the birds from digging them up.
* Snails and slugs enjoy the taste of tender sunflower stems and will devour them as soon as the plants emerge. Apply a 2-inch layer of rough mulch, like tree bark, around the base of the sunflowers to prevent snails and slugs from reaching the plants. Soft-bodied garden pests will not crawl over rough mulch since it will create cuts on their underside and cause them to dehydrate and die.
* Water only during times of drought and then only once a week. Water deeply to encourage deep root growth that will help the tall plants remain anchored securely in the soil.
* Stake and tie sunflowers if needed to keep them upright.
* Harvest flower heads after the petals fall off and the backs of the flowerheads turn dark. Sunflower seeds can be eaten or used as a bird or chicken food. To prevent birds and squirrels from eating all the seeds before they have dried, place a piece of cheesecloth over the flowerheads, and secure in place with a rubber band.