Most sunflowers are heat and drought tolerant. They also make excellent cut flowers and are loved by the bees and birds. The common giant sunflower is useful as a screen, against the hedge or a wall. The miniature sunflowers are small growing and are useful for cultivation in mixed borders and for cut flowers.
- A packet of sunflower seeds
- Gardening gloves
- Plant label and pencil
- Seedling tray & pot o mix.
Growing conditions for sunflowers:
- Sunflowers are easy to culture and not very fastidious regarding soil, but they do need abundant sunlight and air.
- Sunflowers prefer direct sunlight i.e. 6 - 8 hours/day. They flower well during long, hot summers.
- Sunflowers prefer well-dug, loose, well-draining soil as they have long taproots which need to stretch out .
- For preparing a bed, dig 2 feet in depth and about 3 feet across to ensure that the soil isn’t compact.
- Choose a well-drained location, and prepare your soil by digging about 2-3 feet in circumference and 2 feet deep.
- Sunflowers are not too fussy, but they thrive well in soil with the pH value 6.0 - 7.5.
- These gorgeous flowers are heavy feeders, thus the soil needs to be enriched with organic matter or compost manure.
- It is recommended that you shelter the seeds from strong winds.
Planting Sunflower Seeds:
- Seeds are either sown directly in permanent sites or transplanted.
- For the dwarf types spacing of 50-60 cm is allowed, whereas, the tall types should be spaced at 75 cm. (For very small varieties, plant closer together.)
- Seeds can be sown successfully from January to June for flowering during summer and the rainy season.
- A light application of fertilizer mixed in at planting time will encourage strong root growth to protect them from blowing over in the wind.
- Experiment with plantings staggered over 5 to 6 weeks to keep enjoying continuous blooms.
- If you see birds scratching around for the seeds, spread netting over the planted area until seeds germinate.
- The plants flower in 2-3 months of seed sowing.
Sunflower Plant Care:
- While the plant is small, water around the root zone, about 3 to 4 in. from the plant. To protect the plant, it may help to put snail or slug bait around the stem.
- Once the plant is established, water deeply though infrequently to encourage deep rooting. Unless the weather is exceptionally wet or dry, water once a week with several gallons of water.
- Feed plants only sparingly; over fertilization can cause stems to break in the fall. You can add diluted fertilizer into the water, though avoid getting the fertilizer near the plant’s base; it may help to build a moat in a circle around the plant about 18 inches out.
- Tall species and cultivars require support. Bamboo stakes are a good choice for any plant that has a strong, single stem and needs support for a short period of time.
Pests and Diseases:
- Birds and squirrels will show interest in the seeds. if you plan to use the seeds, deter critters with barrier devices. As seed heads mature and flowers droop, you can cover each one with white polyspun garden fleece.
- Sunflowers are relatively insect-free. A small gray moth sometimes lays its eggs in the blossoms. Pick the worms from the plants.
- Downy mildew, rust, and powdery mildew can also affect the plants. If fungal diseases are spotted early, spray with a general garden fungicide.
- For indoor bouquets, cut the main stem just before its flower bud has a chance to open to encourage side blooms.
- Cut stems early in the morning. Harvesting flowers during middle of the day may lead to flower wilting.
- Handle sunflowers gently. The flowers should last at least a week in water at room temperature.
- Arrange sunflowers in tall containers that provide good support for their heavy heads, and change the water every day to keep them fresh.
- Need a bird feeder? Use the sunflower dry heads.
- An anonymous buyer paid over $39 million in 1987 for Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
- Kansas is known as “The Sunflower State.”