How to Grow Sunflowers


What You Will Need:

  • Prepared soil
  • Garden trowel
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Small sticks (such as popsicle sticks)
  • Garden hose or watering can

Steps for Planting and Growing:

  1. Sunflower seeds can be started indoors, or sown directly into your garden.
  2. If you’ve started your seeds indoors, transplant once the seedling has sprouted and become established, making sure to keep the soil/peat around the roots when transplanting.
  3. Seeds planted directly into the soil should be covered to about ½ inch.
  4. Whether you are sowing the seed directly into the soil, or transplanting a seedling, it is important to make sure you provide enough space for the sunflower to grow.  The instructions on your seed packet should give you specific information with regard to spacing, but as a general rule, giant-sized sunflowers should be spaced at least three feet apart, with three to four feet between the rows.  Regular and intermediate sunflowers should be spaced at least two feet apart, with about three feet between the rows.  Miniature sunflowers should be spaced at least one foot apart, with about three feet between the rows.
  5. If you’re sowing the seed directly into the soil, mark each seed with a popsicle stick so that you remember where the seed is planted.
  6. You may want to consider a garden net to discourage animals from digging up the seeds.  Wind chimes and garden spinners serve may serve as a deterrent, but the allure of delectable sunflower seeds can be strong, and a garden net will help ensure their safety.
  7. Once the seed is planted, keep the soil moist (but not oversaturated) until the seed sprouts.


What You Will Need:

  • Fertilizer
  • Stakes (5 to 10 feet or higher, depending upon the general height of the variety you’ve chosen).
  • String
  • Garden hose or watering can
  • Phosphorus and potassium mixtures
  • Gardening clippers

 Steps for Maintenance and Harvesting:

  1. Once seeds have sprouted (or have been transplanted), Place a stake next to each plant. This is especially important for the larger sunflowers; as the plant grows, if you secure the stem to the stake with your string, it will help to stabilize the flower and keep it from bending over with the weight of its bloom.
  2. Because of their deep roots, most sunflowers are drought resistant.  However, if you want to promote large and colorful blooms, water your sunflower regularly, being careful not to over-saturate the soil.
  3. Although not absolutely necessary, Sunflowers will benefit from being fertilized at least once during the growing season.
  4. Once the flower buds appear, adding phosphorus and potassium will promote larger more colorful blooms
  5. When the flower petals begins to wither and fall off, it is time for harvesting.   To double check, pull out a seed and open it to see if it’s full (i.e. contains a mature kernel).  If so, the flower is ready to be harvested.
  6. Using your clippers, cut off the flower head, leaving a few inches of stalk.
  7. Hang the flower heads by the stalks in a dry, well ventilated area.  Avoid placing them in a box or basket since the moisture and the contact with other stems/stalks may cause mold to develop.
  8. When the flower heads are dry (they will feel crisp and brittle to the touch), remove the seeds by rubbing two flower heads together, making sure you have something underneath to catch the seeds.
  9. Once you’ve collected the seeds, they can be roasted and eaten as a healthy, nutritious snack.
  10. Once the flower heads have been removed, if your sunflower is an annual variety, pull the stalk by the root and discard.  If your sunflower is a perennial, once it is done blooming, clip the stalk down to the soil, leaving the root intact.

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