Ah, sunflowers. The sight of sunflowers brings a sense of summer, warm air and of course all of the wonderful tasty seeds they produce. Their popularity has grown over the years, due in part to their ease of growing, minimal space requirements and of course because baseball players chew sunflower seeds as opposed to tobacco. (Had to get a baseball plug in here, it’s springtime!)
There are a number of varieties to choose from although most people equate sunflowers to the large 6 to 10 feet tall mammoth ones, which, in my opinion, are the most fun to grow. The tips outlined here are basically the same for most varieties. If you happen to be planting a sunflower variety that is native to a specific region some of these tips may vary.
Sunflower seeds are large seeds and therefore can and really should be planted a bit deeper than what you may be used to with a vegetable and/or herb seed. One inch beneath the surface will do. As their name suggests, “sun”, they love the warm temperatures and best germinate in soil that is 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 Celsius). Typical germination time is about 10 days, although it can be quicker under optimal conditions. You can start sunflowers in indoor but most of the research I have read suggests that they do not transplant well and do better when started outdoors.
Grow Baby Grow
Now that you have your sunflower seeds in the ground, what should you do to ensure they will be successful? If you are growing a few of them in the same area make sure you space them out at least twelve inches. Also, with larger varieties,such as the mammoth grey, they might need a little support as they get taller. This isn’t always the case, but better to be safe then sorry. While sunflowers are small make sure you give them a heavy watering and once they become larger you can ease up on the water a bit to a moderate daily watering.
Sunflowers that produce edible seeds can take anywhere from 3 to 4 months to mature so hang in there if you are looking to fill a bucket with their yummy seeds. If you are growing sunflower varieties simply for their looks to pick and have fresh on your breakfast table, then as soon as the head opens up you are good to go.
Sunflowers are one of the most overlooked plants to add to a home vegetable garden. Since most of the space they take up is vertical, additional room is not that much of a concern. I like to add 4 to 5 of them in the center of my large vegetable garden to give the garden not only a nice look but great seed producing plants.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the administrator for the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook. Join in the vegetable gardening conversation today with your Facebook account and find out how you can get 2 packs of seeds absolutely free.