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How to Plant, Grow & Care for Sunflowers

A sunflower stands in the sunlight

Planting sunflowers can add bold beauty to your garden and learning how to grow sunflowers is easier than you may think. Sunflowers can make an instant statement in any landscape. Once they bloom, you can even cut the flowers and feature them as a centrepiece inside the home. This simple guide will teach you how to incorporate this eye-catching flower into your garden design.

Skill Level: Beginner
Time:
  1. Step 1 Choose the Best Time to Plant Sunflowers

    A field of sunflowers

    Like their colour suggests, sunflowers love the sun. Plant them when the weather is warm and the days are sunny, such as in the late spring or early summer. You're going to want to use a part of your landscape that receives full sunlight and offers plenty of drainage. Sunflowers have a big root system, so they will need space.

  2. Step 2 Pick a Sunny Spot and Plant the Seeds

    A pitchfork in the dirt

    The more room you provide for your growing sunflowers, the larger they'll become. After the last frost of the season lifts, prepare your garden for planting by creating rows in the soil and planting sunflower seeds at least six inches apart. If you want even larger, taller flowers, add a few extra inches between seeds. Make sure the seeds are pressed into the soil about two inches deep. Promote healthy growth by adding a little fertilizer to the planting area.

    Tip: When planting sunflower seeds, adding a little plant food to your natural soil will help promote healthy growth, but too much can make stems weak. If you are adding treated planting soil to your natural soil, don't also add plant food.

  3. Step 3 Maintain a Consistent Watering Schedule

    Sunflowers atop a flower garden

    The health of your sunflowers will depend on you giving them plenty of light, soil nutrients, and water. Make sure your growing sunflowers receive between three and four gallons of water every week.

  4. Step 4 Care While It Grows

    A hummingbird feeds on a sunflower

    These bold blooms naturally attract wildlife, such as birds, squirrels, and deer and hummingbirds. Because of this, it's a good idea to make sure you're planting sunflowers within a fenced perimeter. If you notice rust or mildew as they grow, use a little fungicide to remedy it. Once your sunflowers start to grow, lay down a thick layer of mulch to help deter weeds.

  5. Step 5 Cut the Flowers for Vases or Bouquets

    Sunflowers decorate a desk and pitcher

    Turn your sunflowers into a captivating centrepiece by filling a vase with these sunny blooms. After cutting, they will typically last seven days in room-temperature water. For the best results, cut your flowers first thing in the morning and choose ones with petals that have just started to open. Place your fresh cuts into a vase with warm water until you've cut as many as you want. With all your flowers cut, start trimming any leaves that will fall below the waterline. Refresh your water as needed throughout the week to keep them looking great.

  6. Step 6 Harvest the Seeds

    A bag of freshly harvested sunflower seeds

    Planting sunflowers next year is easy when you take the time to harvest your seeds from the season prior. Once the stalks turn from green to brown, the seeds are ready for harvesting. You may also notice that the heads of the flowers have started to droop down.

    If you want to harvest the seeds, place a piece of fine netting or a paper bag over each flower head as it droops. This will help catch the seeds as they fall and protect them from animals.

    After collecting the seeds, make sure they are cleaned and dried before storing them to help prevent mould. If you don't want to harvest your seeds, let them drop into your flower bed. This will provide nutrition for wildlife into the winter months and provide nourishment for the soil.

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