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Gardening Tips: Planting Sunflower Seeds

Updated on May 16, 2019
Virginia Allain profile image

Virginia has years of experience with gardening and wild pests in Florida, New Hampshire, Kansas, Maryland, Australia, and South Texas.

Plant Sunflowers Around Your Yard


Let The Sunshine In: Plant Some Sunflowers This Spring!

Everybody loves to see sunflowers. Those towering giants with the big golden blooms. They automatically make you smile!

There are dozens of varieties of sunflowers. From those mammoth, towering plants you see lining a field or fence to little dwarf sunflowers you can grow in a pot on the windowsill. You'll even find them in lots of colors like bright yellows, sunny golds and russet and maroon.

The sunflower is native to America and it's an annual plant which means you have to replant every year. They're a relative of daisies, marigolds, and dandelions and they can grow from 3 to 15 feet tall.

Sunflowers also send out very deep roots and use a lot of water. So you'll also see people planting them in areas where there might be drainage problems so they can help sop up some of the groundwater.

For all the sunshine and smiles that sunflowers bring into our lives, they're very easy to grow and they require very little care. A nice plot of soil, a little fertilizer, and lots of water and sunshine and they're very happy plants!

How To Plant Sunflowers

You've probably seen sunflowers growing along a fence or a wall but that's not necessarily the best location. Planted properly you don't have to worry about a sunflower falling over or getting blown over by the wind.


Tips for Successful Sunflower Growing

The best place to plant is in an area where your flowers will get at least 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight each day. If that happens to be along a wall or fence that's fine. But if it happens to be in the middle of your backyard or field, that's even better.

  • Sunflowers deplete the surrounding soil so each year you plant you'll have to replenish the nutrients before you can plant. Till or dig in compost or manure to a depth of 2 to 3 feet before planting. You'll want the soil to be loose enough to allow proper drainage but firm enough to support the flower.
  • Plant your seeds at the depth recommended for the variety you've chosen.
  • You don't have to worry about feeding or fertilizing your sunflowers, either, once it's matured. Again, thanks to their hefty roots, they're well armed to take care of themselves. However, if you feel it's absolutely necessary, you can feed your plants about once every two weeks. Be careful to pour the fertilizer around the base of the plant and not on the stem.
  • If you're planting one of the mammoth varieties you should sow your seeds early in the spring - as soon as the temperature hits 50 degrees, both day and night.

Watering Your Sunflowers

It's important to water your plant often but be careful about over-watering. Sunflowers are prone to root-rot, particularly when they're still young. And as you plant grows its roots will reach deeper into the ground, enabling it to find the water and nutrients it needs. So be careful about over-watering as your plants mature.

If you're concerned about your plants blowing over in a storm then you can back off on watering so the ground won't be so soft.

Sunflowers Add a Splash of Color and Drama to a Bouquet

This flower arrangement has sunflowers with roses, daylilies, wheat heads, and a touch of purple flowers for accent.
This flower arrangement has sunflowers with roses, daylilies, wheat heads, and a touch of purple flowers for accent. | Source

Harvesting Your Sunflowers

When the petals start to fall off your flowers you'll see the florets in the center begin to dry up and the seeds begin to swell. At this point you should carefully cover the entire head with netting or mesh to keep the birds from stealing all your seeds. It also helps keep the heads intact in case you're planning to show them at the fair.

When the seeds have a hard shell, cut the stalk at the base. Now, just wait for the seeds to dry and them you can either remove them by hand or rub them over the edge of a basket.

Keep your seeds in a tightly sealed airtight container to keep out any rodents. That is, unless you're planning to toast them and eat them right away!


Birds Love Sunflowers

Grow some for your feathered friends

While it's typically planted for it's ornamental qualities some people also plant sunflowers so visiting birds will have something to eat. In fact, you'll often see a row of sunflowers in a garden to keep the birds away from the corn.


Ferry-Morse Annual Flower Seeds Sunflower - Giant

Line a country lane, put a border around your vegetable garden, screen an unsightly area, or plant them along your fence.

These Ferry-Morse Giant Sunflower seeds are guaranteed to grow and they'll reach heights of up to 16 feet tall! The stems are very sturdy and they need to be to support the large blooms.

The bloom in 75 to 90 days producing flowers up to ten inches in diameter.

Sunflowers Remove Contaminants From Soil

I read up on how in urban areas where soil might be contaminated by chemicals, sunflowers help detox the area. They are "hyper-accumulators," meaning they draw up lead, arsenic, zinc, chromium, cadmium, copper and manganese which leaves the soil healthier.

You need a large planting of them to make an impact on contaminated soil.

You can read more about it at 5 Reasons to Grow Sunflowers.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Virginia Allain


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