Growing Sunflowers

SunflowerRemarkably fun and very hardy — perfect for kids! Home gardeners are growing sunflowers for their full, rich sunset colors and large blooms. Easy to plant from seed, they are available in sizes ranging from miniatures at 1-2 feet tall (good for edging) to 20 feet tall with 2 foot diameter blooms. They germinate easily and are fascinating and rewarding to watch, and provide fun seeds to harvest at the end of the summer, making them the ideal seed for children.

Site Preparation:

Sunflowers like a good, well-drained soil and will thrive in areas with full sun. It is not recommended to plant them in sandy soil, however, as they need a strong soil to support their tall, top-heavy plants.

How to Plant:

Sunflowers are very easy to direct-seed. Sow after danger of frost has passed, about 4-6 inches apart with 1/2 inch of soil covering them. If started indoors, use peat pots or pots made of newspaper that can be planted directly into the soil. After seeding outdoors, watch for squirrels and birds – they like to steal the freshly planted seeds to supplement their diet. Once established and healthy, sunflowers will continue growing easily even if left unattended. Water to keep the soil slightly moist and provide support when plants begin to get top heavy. Leave mature flower heads on the plants to attract birds to your garden.

Insects and Disease:

Insects and disease are not typically a problem for sunflowers.

Seed Saving Instructions:

Separate sunflowers by 1/2 mile to ensure pure seed. Harvest the heads when they have completely filled out, have lost all of their petals and the backs begin to turn brown. Allow to dry in a protected area and then shell by hand.

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