Sunflowers are a plant which has a big daisy-like flower face. You may often see bright yellow sunflowers, but actually there are some other colors of sunflowers including orange, red, brown and maroon. If you want to plant sunflowers in your garden, you need to know the best time to plant them so that they can grow well.
The Best Time to Plant Sunflower Seed
The best time to plant sunflower seed is after the spring frost has passed when the soils have warmed to 50 Fahrenheit. Usually, it is about April to mid-July. If you live in the south, it may be about in mid-March or early April.
So, when the time comes, you can start preparing the things that you need for planting sunflower seeds.
The Time Sunflowers Need To Bloom
After you know the best time to plant the seed of the sunflower, now you need to know how long it takes to bloom. The varieties of sunflower usually can mature in about 85 to 95 days. The biggest sunflower varieties can grow more than 16 feet in height. How about the smaller varieties? They have been developed for small spaces and pots and usually they rarely grow bigger than a foot tall. In the big seeded varieties, the heads of flowers can reach more than 12 inches in diameter.
For your information, sunflowers are categorized into heliotropic plants. It means that they are able to turn their flowers to follow the movement of the sun. The process of heliotropism occurs during the earlier stages before the flowers grow heavy with seeds.
At the end of season, you are able to harvest the seeds of sunflowers and it is easy to do that. You can use the seeds of sunflowers for a snack which is delicious or you can use them to replant.
The Things to Prepare for Planting Sunflower Seeds
Now, you have known when the best time to plant sunflower seeds is and also the time that sunflowers need to bloom. So, when the best time comes, you can prepare several things that you need for planting sunflowers. What are they?
The first thing that you have to prepare is a sunny space. Sunflowers will grow well if they get direct sunlight because they need about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight in a day. Then, you also have to choose a location which has well-draining soil.
When you plant sunflowers, you need to make sure that the soil does not become too compact. It is because they have long taproots which need to stretch out. To prepare a bed, you have to dig down 2 feet in depth and about 3 feet across. How about the soil pH? Sunflowers can grow in slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline soil where the soil pH is about 6.0 to 7.5. Since they are heavy feeders, you also have to make sure that the soil for planting them has rich nutrients with organic matter or composted manure. Alternatively, you are able to work in a slow release granular fertilizer 8 inches deep into your soil. If it is possible, you are able to plant sunflowers in an area which is sheltered from strong winds. It may be along a fence or near a building. If you plant the bigger varieties, they may be top-heavy. When there is a string wind, it can damage the sunflowers.
The Steps to Plant Sunflower Seeds
After you did the preparation of planting sunflower seeds, now you can start to plant it. So, how to plant the sunflower seeds? The steps below can be followed carefully.
- To plant sunflower seeds, you have to plant them 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep and about 6 inches apart. You can do this after the soil has warmed. If you want to plant multiple seeds, you are able to do that and you have to thin them to the strongest contenders when they are six inches tall.
- You have to give a lot of room particularly for varieties which are low-growing since they will branch out. You need to make rows about 30 inches apart. If the varieties are very small, you are able to plant closer together.
- Then, you can apply a light fertilizer which is mixed in at planting time. By doing it, it will encourage the growth of strong roots so that it will protect them from blowing over in the wind.
- In this step, you are able to experiment with plantings staggered for 5 to 6 weeks to keep enjoying the blooms which are continuous.
- If there are birds which are scratching around for the seeds, you can spread netting over the planted area until the seeds germinate.
How to Care For Sunflowers
- When the plant is still small, you have to water around the root zone. It is about 3 to 4 inches from the plant.
- If the plants are established, you have to water them. If the weather is wet or dry, you can water once a week with some gallons of water.
- When you want to feed the plants, you have to do that only sparingly. It is because if it is overfertilized, it can cause stems to break in the fall. You are able to add diluted fertilizer into the water, but you have to avoid getting the fertilizer near the base of the plant.
- If the species and cultivars are tall, they will need support. You are able to use bamboo stakes for any plant that has a strong, single stem and needs support for a short period of time.
At the end of the season, you are able to harvest the seeds of sunflowers for a yummy snack. Or, you can use them to replant. Or if you have birds, you are able to use the seeds of sunflowers to feed them in the winter. So, are you ready to plant the sunflower seeds? If the time has come, you can try to plant it in your garden.