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Growing Backyard Sunflowers

Updated on July 28, 2011

For thousands of years Native Americans grew sunflowers. They used the plant as a food source and to make oil. Sunflowers belong to the composite family and grow wild across the mid- western United States. No wonder Kansas is called the Sunflower State.

I have grown sunflowers since the early nineties. The first year I planted the sunflower seeds I planted in early in April and later planted more in July. I found it best to push the seeds at least a half inch to three quarters of an inch down into loosened soil along a fence or garden wall. I spread them out 10 to 12 inches apart. The tall green stalks can grow from 2 and one half to 14 feet tall. Russian varieties often grow 5 or 6 feet tall.

As soon as the florets appear instantly they attract a large variety of bird species. Birds land on the swaying golden flowers pulling out the seeds packed inside the center. Stray cats often lay asleep in the shaded dry soil underneath. I find growing sunflowers such a pleasure.

I have never started the plants from cuttings because I prefer to use seeds. Many gardeners can use the cuttings method. I usually leave planting to the birds. While the birds peck out the seeds they dispurse them around. Other animals bury them in the ground. Once a row is started along a backyard fence, you may never need to plant again.

They are a great place to plant other vegtables such as yellow squash, beans, and cucumber. The vines travel up the sturdy stalks. I have never had to water them. I figure let the rain do his job. Before long, I have this lovely sight outside my window without a whole lot of work.

Sunflowers are a healthy snack. Toast for a few minutes in the oven and dust with sea salt. The kernels are an excellent home remedy for a dry cough having an expectorant quality.

Try planting a few seeds yourself giving a little sun everyday to your backyard. By Joanne Kathleen Farrell, author of Liberty for the LIon Shield. Check out Grilling Veggies on


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    • janeenjesse@yahoo profile image

      Joanne Kathleen Farrell 6 years ago from Rensselaer NY

      Thanks for reading! Sunflowers can often fall over after a bad storm. I plant them along a fence or a wall to give them a little support. Also, giant Russian flowers are supposed to grow the tallest. I found that a second year reseeded flowers to not get as tall as American varieties. What do you think? Jan

    • Tuesdays child profile image

      Tuesdays child 6 years ago from In the garden

      Hi Janeen! I like your hub. I didn't know that it was best to plant sunflowers along a fence, but will try this. I voted your hub up and thank you for the information! Lori