7 Tips For Growing a Sunflower Garden
Sunflowers, maybe more than any other flower, are know for their uncanny ability to simply make you happy. They're bright, they smell incredible, and they bring a sense of liveliness to your garden. Walking between a patch of larger than life Sunflowers gives a true sense of wonderment and warmth. Whether you prefer Sunflowers that are giants or much smaller, vivid yellow or burnt orange, there is no doubt about the joy they bring. Ferry Morse has 8 different Sunflower seed varieties to choose from. Choose your favorite (or your favorites) and follow along with these tips to grow a Sunflower oasis in your home garden.
1. Find the Right Spot
Sunflowers, as you might be able to infer from their name, are happiest when they are in the sun and they'll take just about as much as they can get, from 6-8 hours per day. The amount of sunshine they need is why they require long, hot summers.
Sunflowers are not extremely particular when it comes to soil, but they do prefer a slightly acidic soil from pH 6.0 to 7.5). Sunflowers also require a fair amount of nutrition, so using a slow release fertilizer will come in handy.
Use the Ferry Morse Soil Test Kit to find just the right pH for your plants.
Sunflowers are large and tall and that's a part of the reason why we love them. Our Skyscraper Sunflowers grow up to 12' tall! That said, you'll want to make sure your garden has room for the variety you're growing. And they aren't just large above ground, they tend to grow fairly large root systems. This means that when you plant them, you'll want to space them out and also consider propping them up on fences or stakes as they grow larger.
3. How to Plant Sunflowers
You'll want to plant your sunflowers in time for a big mid-summer blossom. You can plant sunflower seeds directly into the ground after the danger of Spring frost has passed and the soil is thoroughly warmed (soil temperature of 55 to 60 degrees F). This is from mid-April to late May in the Northern United States.
Sunflowers can be sown directly into the ground. Plant the seeds no more than 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart. You can sow multiple seeds in each spot to see which seed grows strongest and remove the others once they reach about 6 inches tall.
4. How to Water a Sunflower
While the Sunflowers are still small (less than 6 inches), water around the root zone. Once the plant starts growing taller, water deeply but infrequently. This amounts to watering once a week to complete saturation. This will encourage deep root growth.
Using plant nutrients like SUPERthrive can also be beneficial for hungry plants like Sunflowers.
5. Caring For Sunflowers
In addition to maintaining this watering and feeding schedule, you can care for you Sunflowers by propping them up with stakes and looking out for pests. Using a simple bamboo stake is any easy and temporary way to give your Sunflowers some support.
Critters love Sunflowers, so keep them out of your garden like you would for any other plant. More specifically for Sunflowers, look out for moths. Gray moths will lay eggs in the blossoms. Pick them out when you see them.
6. Harvesting Sunflowers
Eventually your Sunflowers will die down with the end of the season. If you want to spare them for indoor bouquets, cut the stem just as you begin to see browning on the back of the head. This is about 30-45 days after they bloom. They can then be placed in a container with water for at least 1 week of freshness.
7. Eat the Seeds
Yes, you can eat the sunflower seeds. So, when you harvest the sunflowers and begin to see the bare seeds show through the blossom, you can cut down the blossom, roast it whole and scrape out the seeds with a fork.
Try out this Sunflower seed roasting technique as seen on Simply Recipes
- Ferry Morse
Stuck sunflower seeds in my geranium hanging baskets. Just took photos today, November 25, 2021. 5 feet tall, & blooming. Not sure what seeds I dropped in the baskets, but it’s the sunflowers that grow multiple flowers along the stalk. I think Mongolian sunflowers… The main seedhead at the top grows the bigger seeds. Doubtful that will happen to these stalks, here in zone 7-8, in SW Washington, Vancouver Washington USA. But what a surprise that they are even blooming, and this tall!
I want to say I am starting now hour how I could do it please repeat that
I’m having terrible luck! Pests are killing them. Aphids? I’m using a mineral oil spray (Neem Oil / All Seasons) but I think that may not be the best, seems the oil is drying out the leaves? Any help / tips welcome. I live in SF but have been growing them on my roof (ample sun).
Good questions. Firstly, planting next to a fence is a good idea. That should help support them and protect them from excessive wind. Considering that Skyscraper Sunflowers can grow up to 12’, they do require more support than shorter varieties. Generally speaking though, you only need to stake them for about half of their total height, so tying them up near the top of the fence should be alright.
Secondly, you’ll want to plant them 4-6" away from the fence, just to ensure that the roots have space to grow under the surface.
Best of Luck!
hi. i bought the skyscraper sunflower seeds…..question, i want to plant them at my fence line, but the fence is only 6 ft. tall. will this work ? also, do i need to stake them all the way up when they are full grown ? lastly, how close to the fence do you recommend i plant them?
thank you in advance for your feedback.