Symbolizing loyalty and longevity—just like the sun, sunflower is an excellent choice of flowering plant to be planted in your garden. On the rest of this article, you can get the information about how to grow sunflowers, including their types, their blooming season, and the right ways to care for them.
1. About sunflowers
Sunflowers are native flowering plants of North America. They have big petals in bright yellow—or sometimes red colors. When they are ripe, the center of the petal head will turn into brown and filled with seeds which can be harvested. In addition to having tuberous root, sunflowers have a tall stalk and large leaves with bristle.
Sunflowers belong to the heliotropic plant, so they are tolerant of heat and drought, able to grow throughout hot weather in the summer, as well as resistant to pests. Because of their tough characteristics, sunflowers are considered easy to grow in almost any place, other than the waterlogged soil.
2. Types of sunflowers
There are several types of sunflowers which grow to different heights and have distinctive characteristics.
- Teddy Bear Sunflowers, the small variety whose stalk can only reach the height of 2-3 feet. Having small flowers, they are the perfect choice to be planted in pots or small gardens.
- Sunbeam Sunflowers, characterized by large, golden flowers without pollen. Their flower heads can reach the size of 5 inches, while the stalks grow to5 feet tall.
- Autumn Beauty, one of the large sunflower varieties which can grow up to 7 feet tall. The flowers are usually in yellow or bronze shades.
- Mammoth Sunflower, the traditional giant variety of sunflower. It can grow into tower-like height while the seeds in its flower heads can be consumed for snacks or used as bird feeds.
3. When and where to plant sunflowers
Sunflower season runs between spring to early fall, but the best time to start sowing this flowering plant is in the early spring, or as soon as the last frost of the winter is gone. Sunflowers which are sown at this time of the year are proven to have taller stalks and larger heads. In comparison, if the planting season starts in the midsummer, the sunflowers are likely to grow with shorter stalks.
As the name suggests, sunflowers need the sunto be able to reach its optimal growth. Therefore, they are best to be planted in an area which has direct access to the sunlight. In its growing state, sunflowers need full sun at the minimum time of 6-8 hours per day. In addition to the abundant amount of sunlight, the planting site you choose should be in the well-drained condition.
4. How to grow sunflowers
When it comes to growing sunflowers, soil preparation is an important thing to do in the initial stage of planting. This is because sunflowers deplete the supplies of nutrient in the soil faster than many other flowering plants. To prepare the soil, dig the planting area to a depth of 2 feet and a width of 2-3 feet in circumference so that the site is not too compact. Then, add fertilizer or composted manure to your digging soil for about 8 inches deep.
Once the soil in the planting area is ready, water it before sowing the seeds in the ground. Then, press the seeds to a depth of 1 inch in groups consisting of 5-6 seeds per row. Note that the normal distance between each seed in the same row is around 6-8 inches. The distance may be farther if you plan to grow sunflowers with tall stalks and large petal heads. Meanwhile, each row should be situated about 20-30 inches apart.
If you also wish to have the flowers with bigger size, planting sunflower seeds is better to be done directly in the garden. Starting to plant the seeds in pots is not suggested, because the transplantation from the pot into the ground may postpone the growing process of this flower.
5. When do sunflowers bloom?
At the early growing stage, it is important to preserve the moisture of the soil and protect your sunflower garden from birds by covering it with loose nets. With the right procedure of plant care, sunflower seedlings will start emerging within 5-10 days.
Moreover, because this flowering plant can be both annual and perennial, the blooming season of one variety may differ from the others. For the annual types, the flowers will start blooming around 90 days after seeds are planted. Meanwhile, the blooming season for perennial sunflowers usually ranges from midsummer to early and mid-fall.
6. When and how to harvest sunflower seeds
When growing sunflowers in your garden, you are not only able to admire its beauty, but also can harvest them for seeds. Sunflower seeds can be harvested around 30-45 days after bloom. You also need to examine their ripeness, that is, when the back of the flower head turns brown. It is the ultimate sign that the seeds are ready for harvest.
Harvesting sunflower seeds can be done in two simple ways. First, cut the plant head, approximately four inches below the head of the flower. After that, the seeds can be removed using a fork, or even your fingers.
7. Tips for growing sunflowers in your garden
Below are several things that you can do to care for your sunflower plant.
- Water the plant according to its size. Small plants should be watered around the root zone. Later, when the plant grows taller, water it more deeply once a week.
- Sunflowers are the main attraction to bees and birds. For this reason, it is suggested for you to protect the plants from their threats by spreading loose netting before the germination stage begins.
- The use of fertilizer on sunflowers can strengthen the root, encourage the growing state, and protect sunflowers from wind blowing. However, please note that to get those advantages, you only need to apply the fertilizer in the light Over-fertilization may cause broken stem.
- Use bamboo stakes if needed to support sunflowers with tall stalks and strong stems.
Having sunflowers in the garden will surely brighten up the mood of your circumstance. For that reason, keep in mind that to get the beautiful, blooming sunflowers, knowing the right ways on how to grow sunflowers is only the first step. The procedures of caring for and protecting this flowering plant should be done correctly as well.