The sunflower is an annual plant with large or not very large yellow flowers. Sunflower is very popular not only because of its beauty, but also because it is easy to grow. Planting sunflower seeds in the spring can be a lot of fun and exciting not only for kids but also for adults. It is possible to plant sunflower seeds with a minimum investment of time and effort.
Method 1 of 3: Germinating sunflower seeds
Step 1. Check the air temperature
Sunflower planting can be carried out both in open ground and germinate. Sunflowers grow best in temperatures between 18 and 33ºC, but you can plant them even after the warmth and frost is expected.
Sunflowers usually take 80–120 days to ripen and for new seeds to emerge, depending on the type of plant. If the growing season is shorter than the summer in your area, then you can plant the sunflower directly in the soil two weeks before the last frost - most of the seeds will probably survive
Step 2. Select a sunflower variety
There are many varieties of sunflower and their hybrids, but most gardeners focus on a few characteristics. These characteristics are usually listed on the seed package or in the description. Before planting, check what the maximum plant height is, since there are varieties from 30 cm in height to giant ones, 4, 6 m in height. Also decide on whether you want a sunflower with one stem or one that diverges into several stems with several small flowers …
You can grow sunflowers from dried seeds (sunflower seeds), but make sure the seeds are not roasted and that the shell is completely intact
Step 3. Place the seeds in a damp paper towel
Lightly dampen a paper towel to keep it damp but not wet. Place the sunflower seeds and spread them over half of the towel, then cover with the other half of the towel on top.
- If you have a lot of seeds and are less concerned about germination, you can skip this step. Seeds planted directly in the soil take about 11 days to germinate.
- If the summer in your area is long, you can plant the sunflowers in a few steps 1 or 2 weeks apart to keep their flowers decorating the garden longer.
Step 4. Place a damp paper towel with seeds in a plastic bag
Place the seeds in a plastic bag. Check them once or twice a day and keep doing this until sprouts appear. The sprouts usually appear after 48 hours. Once this happens, you can plant the sprouts.
Keep a paper towel with seeds in a warm place: the temperature should be at least 10ºC
Step 5. If necessary, cut off the tip of the seed shell
If the seeds don't germinate within two or three days, try using nail clippers to remove the edge of the shell. Be careful not to damage the inside of the seed. Add a few drops of water inside if the paper is dry.
Method 2 of 3: Planting sunflower seeds
Step 1. Choose a sunny location
Sunflowers grow best when they can get about 6-8 hours of sun per day. Choose a suitable location - where it is sunny most of the day.
If your garden does not often have strong winds, then try to plant sunflowers away from trees, walls, and other objects that may block sunlight
Step 2. Check the deep soil moisture
Sunflower roots go deep into the ground, and the plant can rot in swampy soil. Dig a hole about 0.6 meters deep and check how firm and compacted the soil is. If the soil is firm and dense, add compost to improve drainage.
Step 3. Check the quality of the soil
Sunflowers are not picky and can grow in medium garden soils without additional maintenance. If the soil is poor, or you want to stimulate plant growth and add more nutrients to the soil, add rich, loamy soil. In rare cases, it may be necessary to adjust the pH of the soil. If you have your own set for measuring and changing soil pH, then you can adjust it to a value from 6.0 to 7, 2.
For larger varieties, rich soils are recommended as these varieties require more nutrients
Step 4. Plant the seeds to a depth of 2.5 cm at a distance of 15 cm from each other
Plant the seeds in holes or a trench 2.5 cm deep or 5 cm deep if the soil is loose and sandy. Maintain a distance of 15 cm between seeds - this distance should be sufficient for the growth of sunflowers. If you have only a few seeds and you do not want to grow too weak plants, you can plant sunflowers at a distance of 30 cm and up to 46 cm for large varieties. Then cover the seeds with earth on top.
If you are planting larger varieties, we recommend planting sunflowers at a distance of 76 cm or any other distance
Method 3 of 3: Sunflower Care
Step 1. Keep the soil moist
Keep the soil you plant your sunflowers in is moist until the shoots appear. While the shoots are still too small and fragile, water them at a distance of 7, 5-10 cm from the plant itself - this will stimulate the growth of the roots without eroding them.
Step 2. Protect plants from pests
Birds, squirrels and snails are very fond of sunflower seeds, and can dig them straight out of the ground before the shoots appear. Cover the ground with a net so that pests cannot reach the seeds, but at the same time, so as not to block the growth of plants. For protection against snails and slugs, use a special agent to form a barrier around the garden bed.
To protect plants from cloven-hoofed animals and chickens that can eat young shoots, fence the garden with a net or fence 1.8 m or more
Step 3. Water mature plants less often
Once the plant has developed a stem and developed a strong root system, reduce the frequency of watering to once a week. If the weather is dry, water a little more often and heavily. Sunflowers require quite a bit of moisture compared to some other plants.
Step 4. Thin the plants if desired or necessary
Once the sunflowers have grown 7-8 cm, you can remove the weak plants so that there is a distance of about 30 cm between the adjacent flowers. This way, stronger and healthier plants can get more nutrients from the soil and they have more room to development - this will give taller and thicker stems and larger flowers.
If you want small flowers for bouquets, or if you originally planted seeds at a great distance, then you can skip this step
Step 5. Feed the sunflowers (if desired)
If you grow sunflowers for yourself, then we do not recommend feeding them, as excessive feeding can damage the plant - sunflowers grow well enough without fertilizers. If you want to grow very tall sunflowers or if you are growing them in marginal soil, dissolve the fertilizer in water, dig a shallow ditch around the plant at a distance, and water. Balanced or nitrogen fertilizers are likely to be the best choice.
You can also use slow-release fertilizers that are applied to the soil once
Step 6. If necessary, provide plant supports
Sunflowers taller than 1 meter may require props. Stick a stick of sufficient height into the ground and tie the plant to it. Don't tie it too tight. Use a piece of soft material or cloth to tie.
Step 7. Collect seeds if desired
Sunflowers bloom for about 30–45 days. After flowering, the green part of the flower head begins to turn brown. If you want, you can pick the seeds to roast or prepare for next year. To do this, you will need to cover the flower with a paper bag to protect the crop from birds. Prune the sunflower only after it is completely dry.
If you don't wrap the sunflower in a bag, the flower will drop seeds that will sprout next year. By harvesting sunflower seeds, you can protect them from pests
The sunflower is an annual plant and must be planted annually
- Sunflowers produce chemicals that slow the growth of potatoes and legumes that may be planted nearby and also kill grass. Otherwise, these chemicals are completely harmless.
- Do not plant them in front of brickwork, as stems can grow between the bricks and destroy them.