If you love flowers, there’s bound to be nothing out there that will make you smile bigger than seeing some towering, bright and bold sunflowers in full bloom. The problem is that we often only encounter them by accident… a friend grew them, or they’re at a nursery, or in a field by the roadside. If they make you happy, why not grow them yourself? Here’s a step by step guide to keep you informed on growing sunflowers.
Pick a great spot:
As you may have guessed, sunflowers need full sun. As long as they get full sun, they’ll grow easily and strongly in most soils, even if the soil lacks the nutrients that other plants may need. Be sure that where you’re growing them is a location where you’re okay with the ground balding beneath them, as sunflowers release non-harmful toxins that will kill the grass underneath them.
Cultivate in the right way at the right time:
It’s best to wait until after the last frost has ended in order avoid chilling the flower unnecessarily. While it may survive one frost, it will more than likely struggle if the ground temperature drops cooler than 50-60 degrees fahrenheit. If you’d like to plant the flowers in rows, do so by planting them with about 6 inches of space between each seed, in a small trench that’s between 1-2 inches deep. The sandier the soil, the deeper the seed should go. You’ll want to immediately cover the seed and water it daily until the seedlings sprout in roughly 7-10 days. When the second set of leaves appear, thin the plants so they’re roughly two feet apart. Continue to add rows for as long as you’d like, planting the rows every 2-3 weeks so that you can enjoy blooms as they mature continuously throughout the next 120 days or until the first frost of next season.
If you’re interested in only growing for bouquets or vases, space the plants much closer together and skip the fertilizing process. The plants will naturally be much smaller, with fewer branches, the flower heads themselves will be a great size for display.
The roots to these flowers grow wide, so they can sustain some drought but it’s best to water them daily in order to avoid such scenarios. Their most important growth period for watering is 20 days before and after flowering. Deep, large root growth is essential to keeping the plants healthy, strong and upright, as they’re top heavy plants and will bend if not strong enough to stand straight. For that reason, water them for long periods of time, but avoid water logging where the water puddles on the surface.
To keep birds away, trim the leaves at the top of the stalk so they have no where to land if they are attracted to the flowering. Consider supporting those that are over 3 feet tall with stakes and cages, which will keep deer out in the process.
It’s surprisingly easy to grow sunflowers, and the minimal work will reap numerous benefits as you’ll get to see their smiling, sunny faces every day!