Sunflowers, along with roses, are very common amongst kids, and sunflower is one of the most fascinating flowers one can come across. In summer, most gardens are so beautifully covered with these yellow flowers blooming, making it look like a sea of yellow.
If you are looking to make your garden vibrant and beautiful with these yellow flowers, you need to know everything about them, from their growing conditions to their water and soil requirements.
In this article, you will learn everything about sunflowers and how to harvest them with easy care.
Helianthus annuus, a scientific name for sunflower, is an annual plant that has a sizeable daisy-like flower face.
Sunflowers are among the happiest and most cheerful plants, bringing various benefits to the garden bed. They are very viable in attracting pollinators, require minimum care, and are very attractive when grown.
Do you know, sunflowers can also be seen in different colors? Colors like red, orange, maroon, brown, and yellow.
Sunflowers are a multipurpose plant. They bring butterflies and other beneficial pollinators to the garden, which other plants then use to pollinate. When cut, they make a perfect combination in a bouquet or any floral arrangement.
Sunflowers are also heliotropic, meaning when a sunflower is lightweight and at the early stage of its growth, it moves in the direction of the Sun. That is, the flower will move from east to west every morning.
It will again return to facing the east at night and waiting for the morning sun to begin its rotation. This makes the sunflower a unique plant in itself.
When to Plant Sunflower Seeds?
The timing of planting sunflower seeds is the most important part of growing a sunflower plant. If planted at the right time, it will become a large and blooming plant or be like another plant growing apart from its ideal show.
It is always tricky to know the best time to plant sunflower seeds.
Sunflower plants like to grow in sunny weather conditions. March is ideal for planting sunflower seeds, and you can do it till September.
Now, different types of sunflowers are planted at different times and conditions.
There are Annual sunflower, Perennial sunflower, and Mexican sunflower plants, and each is planted at different times.
In detail, let us discuss the best time to start growing these different sunflower plants.
1. When to Plant Annual Sunflower Seeds?
If you choose an annual sunflower plant, like the “Giant Russian” or glossy “Earthwalker,” choosing the right time for their planting is the key.
These annuals are generally planted around early spring as they are sown under cover in the spring and can be sown directly later in the season.
Annual sunflowers can be sown in well-drained soil in April or June in the presence of direct sunlight.
2. When to Plant Perennial Sunflower Seeds?
Perennial Sunflowers are not a bad choice at all. And if you want to sow the seeds of perennial sunflowers like “Lemon Queen,” spring or fall is the best-suited time.
Sunflowers do not like cold weather; as their name suggests Sun-flower, they require direct sunlight for 6 to 8 hours a day.
3. When to Plant Mexican Sunflower Seeds?
Tithonia diversifolia is a Mexican Sunflower no one wants to miss. These gorgeous annuals are yellow to orange, and their seeds are spread through the way of water, animals, or winds.
Sow these lovely flowers outside when the weather has warmed in late spring. These flowers attract vibrant pollinators like butterflies, giving your garden a lovely look.
4. When to Plant Sunflowers in Pots?
The best thing about sunflowers is that they grow very well in pots. A well-drained soil is good enough to grow a sunflower on your balcony or a sunny terrace.
In March or April, you can sow sunflower seeds undercover, in a greenhouse, or in cold frames. Sunflower seeds can be sown outside, alternatively in May or June.
Get a good-sized pot or container with good, well-drained soil that can handle dwarf sunflowers like “Teddy Bear,” as they are short, around 18 to 24 inches in height.
Place the pots in direct sunlight and water them continuously, especially in hot and dry weather conditions.
How to Plant Sunflower Seeds?
Planting sunflower seeds is not that hard, but you should know the right process and provide them with healthy growth. Let us know some common and most important parts of planting sunflower seeds.
1. Choosing The Right Spot
Choosing the right location to plant your sunflower seeds is very important. The name sunflower clearly depicts how much the flower loves Sun.
Choose a place with sunlight for at least 8 hours a day. Also, keep in mind the plants you want to grow near them. As sunflower grows tall, they tend to cast shade around nearby plants.
2. Time is of The Essence
Planting a Sunflower seed at the right time is an art. It is a waiting game, not many people have patience for.
Planting sunflowers in warmer temperatures will give them the ideal growing conditions. Wait for the soil to get warmer, and then plant it outdoors.
3. Prepare The Soil
Preparing the soil prior to planting the sunflower will help its growth. Well-draining soil is important; adding compost and nutrients to the soil will make the base ideal for planting sunflower seeds.
4. Planting The Seeds
Different sunflower seeds require different planting requirements such as spacing, depth, etc.
Planting sunflower seeds half an inch deep is a common practice where spacing is around 6 inches apart. And if you are planting it in a row, then 2 to 3 feet between each plant is advised.
5. Moisture Needs
Sunflower seeds require constant moisture. Sunflower seeds are known to have a large amount of natural oil, and they require a lot of water for germination.
Watering the plants frequently and keeping the soil moist until germination is important.
Growing & Caring For Sunflowers
Sunflowers are easy-to-grow plants and are often used to introduce planting to kids. As their low caring needs, it is easier for kids to grow them indoors.
Sunflowers are fast-growing plants that are said to self-grow once you plant them. They only need a few basic growing cares, which are mentioned below.
Sunflower needs basic fertilizing in their growing season; however, if you want to add nutrients to your soil, you can add them manually. Other than that, sunflowers do not need any particular fertilizing.
The water requirements of sunflower plants are relatively very simple. They require an inch-deep watering in their growing season and light watering the rest of the year, just enough to keep the soil moist in hot and dry weather conditions.
3. Pets And Disease
Sunflowers are considered healthy plants, unaffected by insects, and often benefit from insects and pollinators.
Some disease is a concern for sunflower plant, but now the sunflower plants have developed a resistance against them. If they are affected by a disease, you must cut it down and separate it from the remaining.
Sclerotinia rot, rust, and downy mildew are some of the known diseases for sunflowers.
Harvesting Sunflower Seeds
One of the reasons why sunflowers are so famous and widely adored is their usefulness. Sunflowers are as tasty as they are beautiful.
Their seeds are often used in loaves of bread and salads. You can expect to harvest seeds almost 30 days after pollination.
1. Always Give Time Before Harvesting
Do not just jump into harvesting; wait until the back of the sunflower turns brown, then only proceed to harvest the seeds.
Once the head has turned brown, it will allow you to harvest in the easiest way possible.
2. Beat The Air Attack
After learning so much about growing and planting sunflowers, do not let your hard work suffer a hit by birds. Birds love to feed on the harvest.
Start looking out for seed maturity when fall has just begun.
When the seed is ready, just cut off seed heads with a generous amount of stem attached.
3. Providing a Headcover
As the flower dries, seeds fall out of the flower head. To prevent it from falling to the ground or getting destroyed, collect the seeds with the help of a net made up of paper or light-weighted cloth.
4. Remove The Seeds
Once dry, removing the seeds from the flower is very easy. It can be done via bare hands, by just rubbing their faces together, or with your fingers.
The answer to “when to plant sunflowers?” is relatively simple. These plants grow quickly and don’t require much maintenance. During the growing season, i.e., after the last frost of the year, the soil’s temperature above 50 degrees creates a conducive environment.
To learn more, check out our comprehensive guide to backyard garden plants.