How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Sunflower Plants

September 4, 2013 – 10:35 am

Botanical name: Helianthus

Plant type: Flower

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Sandy, Loamy

Soil pH: Neutral
, Alkaline/Basic


Flower color: Yellow

Bloom time: Summer

Sunflowers say "summer" like no other plant.

Sunflowers are annuals with showy, daisylike flowerheads that are usually 2-4 inches across and bright yellow (though occasionally red). Tall and course, the plants have creeping or tuberous roots and large, bristly leaves. Today, varieties have even been developed for small spaces and containers.

Most sunflowers are remarkably tough and easy to grow as long as the soil is not waterlogged. Most are heat- and drought-tolerant. They make excellent cut flowers and many are attractive to bees and birds.

Planting

  • Sunflowers grow best in locations with full sun; they prefer long, hot summers to flower well.
  • Though they're not too fussy, sunflowers thrive in slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline (pH 6.0 to 7.5).
  • If possible, put seeds in a spot that is sheltered from strong winds, perhaps along a fence or near a building.

Planting Sunflower Seeds

  • It's easiest to sow seeds directly into the soil after the danger of spring frost is past. Ideally, the soil temperature has reached 55 to 60 degrees F.
  • Plant the large seeds no more than 1 inch deep and 4 to 6 inches apart in well-dug, loose soil after it has thoroughly warmed, from mid-April to late May.
  • A light application of fertilizer mixed in at planting time will encourage strong root growth to protect them from blowing over in the wind.
  • Experiment with plantings staggered over 5 to 6 weeks to keep enjoying continuous blooms.
  • Give plants plenty of room, especially for low-growing varieties that will branch out. Make rows about 30 inches apart. (For very small varieties, plant closer together.)
  • When the plants are six inches high, thin them to two feet.
  • If you see birds scratching around for the seeds, spread netting over the planted area until seeds germinate.

Care

  • Water plants deeply but infrequently to encourage deep rooting.
  • Feed plants only sparingly; overfertilization can cause stems to break in the fall.
  • Tall species and cultivars require support. Bamboo stakes are a good choice for any plant that has a strong, single stem and needs support for a short period of time.

Source: www.almanac.com


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