Sunflowers are an all-time garden favourite. They are very easy to grow, making them an ideal garden project for the very young to learn about growing plants.
They are hardy semi-annual plants, and provided you have a spot with plenty of sunshine, growing your very own should be easy. You can buy seeds in packets or get seeds direct from somebody else’s garden. Make sure that you choose a variety that will suit your needs. Sunflowers can be grown in garden beds or in pots, depending on the type you get.
- Ensure that the last frost has passed.
- Choose a part of the garden or porch where there is full sun all day.
- Plant the seeds in the soil. Sow to a depth of 5cm / 2″. If you are planting them in a garden bed, the distances will depend on the variety:
- Giant Sunflowers: sow the seeds 91cm / 3 feet apart, in rows 1 metre / 3 – 4 feet apart
- Normal size: sow the seeds 60cm / 2 feet apart in rows 91cm / 3 feet apart
- Miniatures: sow the seeds 30cm / 1 foot apart, in rows 3 feet apart
- It is better to plant fewer sunflowers if you don’t have much room because the more they are forced to compete for nutrients, the less strong each individual plant will be.
- Water them generously but not too much because if you do the plant will become waterlogged and will eventually die.
- The seedlings will pop up about 1 – 2 weeks after planting. Keep the area weed free and keep watering but other than that, they should not need much maintenance and should grow quickly, taking about 90 days to reach maturity. Weeds are not really a problem once the sunflower reaches 90cm / 3 feet in height. Taller plants are also more drought resistant and watering can be reduced.
- Consider staking the sunflowers to help them grow taller and survive wind and prevent them from being knocked over. This goes especially for larger varieties.
Enjoy the beauty of your sunflowers.
You can also harvest the sunflower seeds.
They will fall from the flower head when they are ripe if you snip off the flower head and gently wipe it across a clean cloth.
Remember that sunflowers will grow very tall and can shade out other plants if you are not careful. Sunflowers always point to the direction of the sun rising (east), so consider this when planting.
Soil types are not too much of a problem for sunflowers, although a well-drained soil with lots of peat, compost or manure will help them to grow tall and strong.
It is best to leave sunflowers where you plant them; if you try to move them, they will not really grow as successfully.