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Planting and growing sunflowers

How to Plant and Grow Sunflowers

Sunflower Seeds to Sunflower Plants

Planting and growing sunflowers is easy.  These durable plants can be grown in most area summer months, and can bring great beauty to any landscape or garden.  Below are the steps to grow sunflowers from seed:
  1. So, the first step is to find quality sunflower seed.  Many of the top online seed stores sell sunflower seeds, and quality will insure a higher germination rate for your baby sunflower plants.  You can also harvest your own, and that is detailed here: Collecting and Harvesting Sunflower Seeds
  2. Planting the Sunflowers.  Sunflowers require some degree of warmth to germinate, and the soil should be between 55 and 60 degrees.  The warmer the better, and here in Sacramento, our sunflowers grow like weeds in the high heat of the summer.   Plant the sunflower seeds in groups of 3 an inch deep in your soil, and about 6 inches apart.
  3. Thinning your sunflowers.  After a few weeks, when you have decent size baby sunflowers, go ahead and thin the herd out to a single plant in each of your groups.
  4. Caring for sunflowers.  Sunflowers are pretty hardy plants and don’t need much care.  Insure proper water during early growth, and you can add a small amount of fertilizer if you choose to do so.
That’s it!  If you want more information on Sunflowers, you can see our other pages below: All about Sunflowers
Planting and Growing Sunflowers in the Garden
Sunflower gardening

How To Plant Sunflowers

Planting and Growing Sunflowers

So, if you found us, you have one big thought on your mind…how do I grow the sunflower plant?  This garden guide page will give you all the information you need for planting and growing sunflowers.   Below is an overview of all the steps you need to get growing.  If you like pretty pictures and visuals, see our All About Sunflowers page.

How and where do I get sunflower seeds?

So, you can just plant those sunflower seeds you have been eating from the bag in the cupboard, right?  Well, cant do that…those are roasted and dead to growth.  You have a number of options for getting seeds.  If you already have a sunflower plant, you can read this article on harvesting and collecting sunflower seeds.  If you have a neighbor that is giving, you can do the same with one of their sunflower blooms.  You can also purchase a number of different varieties of sunflowers at just about any home store, like Lowes or Home Depot, or you can get some from any of the internet seed providers (We use Johnny’s Seeds here at Celtic Farm).

Where do I plant sunflowers?

Sunflowers absolutely love the sun (imagine that), and they will grow best in a planting location that receives full sun.  In fact, they love the sun so much, their heads actually move for maximum sun exposure (no kidding).  As for soil, they are extremely durable, and will do well in just about any soil type, as long as it is not waterlogged.  Because of their size and head weight, soft soil can allow them to uproot during windy days. Sunflowers do quite well in a broad range of soil acidity, usually 6.5-7.0 if you like to measure that stuff.  I also like to note that the sunflower plant does emit substances that will inhibit the growth of neighboring plants, and they should be separated from beans and potatoes.

Can I start sunflower plants indoors?

Sunflowers are not keen on root disturbance, and direct seeding is the best way to plant.  But if you are hard over on getting them started as early as possible, they can be placed in peat pots indoors to get a jump on the growing season.

When do I plant sunflower seeds?

Like most plants, you want to plant your sunflower seeds after the last frost, and once the soil temperature has reached 55-60 degrees.    They can take minimal chill, so if you are in a short growing period area, they can be placed two or so weeks before the last chill.

How do I plant sunflower seeds?

Plant the seeds about 1 inch deep,  and about 6″ apart.  If you want rows, common wisdom says to place them 24-30″ apart.  If you want to have flowers all summer, do succession planting and do the same every 2-3 weeks.

How much do I water my sunflower plants?

Sunflowers are fairly drought tolerant, but need sufficient water until established.  Water your sunflower babies daily, and then once flowers appear you can water more infrequently, even to once a week with a single heavy water.

Do I fertilize sunflowers?

If you plant your sunflowers in soil rich in organic matter, they will do just fine, but to get amazing blooms you should fertilize .  You can add light fertilizer or granules, but feed sparingly as over-fertilizing can create brittle stalks.   See the side column for a suggested fertilizer.

How do I harvest and collect sunflower seeds?

You can harvest and collect sunflower seeds from your spent flower heads to plant next season, or to eat.   Some of the larger species have 1500-2000 seeds per head!!  It is a fairly easy drying procedure that will allow you to gather seeds.   See the link above for more info on step by step procedures for collecting.

What are pests common to sunflowers?

Sunflowers are not a favorite of the insect population, and can remain insect free as long as they are kept healthy.  Mildew can be a problem, but can be controlled on sunflower leaves with neem oil or other fungicide.  If you do want to collect your seeds, you will need to keep birds and squirrels away.