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Growing Sunflowers

Planting Sunflowers: Light up Your Landscape with Bright Yellow Sunflower Blooms!

by Frances Santos

Growing SunflowersYou probably know why growing sunflowers is one of the most popular flowering plants to grow in the world. They are tall, large, cheerful and beautiful flowers that brighten up any home garden or lawn. Sunflowers are considered native to the United States.

Sunflower plants can grow in different sizes. Miniatures grow 2-4 feet, regular sunflowers usually grow from 6-10 feet, and giant varieties can grow as high as over 20 feet! Additionally, giant sunflower blooms can grow as large as 2 feet in diameter!

Regardless of size, all varieties have similar features—enormous, fiery blooms, whose shape is a lot similar to how we illustrate the sun, thus the name ‘sunflower’. Sunflower plants have hairy stems, coarsely toothed, heart-shaped leaves and circular heads of tiny flowers.

In fact the heads are composed of 1,000-2,000 individual florets crowded together. Also, true to its name, the sunflower needs full sun. Cultured sunflowers produce only one bloom while wild sunflowers have multiple.

What’s interesting about the sunflower is its functionality. Yes, sunflowers are great ornamental plants but did you know that Native Americans used them medicinally for ointments and as remedy for snakebite? Today, their seeds are used in making breads and as a popular snack. Read on for our full guide on growing sunflowers in your own garden.

Sunflowers Propagation

Sunflower plants can be propagated from seed. You can buy sunflower seedlings but why spend money when sunflower seeds are not that difficult to germinate?

To begin germination and sprouting, sunflower seeds require a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Fold a paper towel into quarters and dampen it with water. Take note that saturating the towel can cause sunflower seeds to mold. Lay the seeds on the damp paper towel and cover them with another damp and folded paper towel. The seeds should germinate in 5-15 days.

Sunflowers seedlings are best planted outdoors directly into your flower garden. Cover the seedlings with a screen to prevent the birds and animals from digging the seedlings out. However, if you want to sow the seedlings indoors, you can do so. Use individual peat pots and plant 1-2 seedlings per pot, thinning them to one before transplanting outdoors.

How To Grow Sunflowers

Make the final spacing as follows: Giants must be spaced 4 feet apart, regular varieties should be spaced 3 feet apart, and miniatures one foot apart. Sunflowers love full sun. In fact, sunflower buds seem to track the sun. This is termed ‘heliotropism’. Consider this when deciding where to plant your sunflower.

Another must-do is to pick a good location. Sunflower plants grow in well drained, average to rich soils. Do not grow them in sandy soils if possible. Sunflower plants need to grow their roots deeply into the ground to withstand unfavorable weather conditions such as strong winds and droughts.

Sunflower plants are low maintenance. They do not need regular watering and fertilizer. However, applying extra potassium and phosphorous when the buds begin to develop promote bigger blooms.

Sunflower Diseases

Sunflowers are tough plants and they seldom get disease problems. But there are a few pests that wreak havoc when swarm in multitude. The most common pests include sunflower beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, cutworms, maggots, borers and moths.