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Sunflowers

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This grew from a seed a squirrel buried for later.

Credit: Jeff Childrey
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Botanical name: Helianthus

Plant type: Flower

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Sandy, Loamy

Soil pH: Neutral
, Alkaline/Basic


Flower color: Yellow

Bloom time: Summer

Where to buy sunflowers: Burpee Gardening

Sunflowers say "summer" like no other plant. 

American natives, sunflowers are grow for beauty as well as harvested for seed. 

An annual plant, sunflowers have big, daisylike flower faces of bright yellow petals (and occasionally red) and brown centers that ripen into heavy heads filled with seeds.

Tall and course, the plants have creeping or tuberous roots and large, bristly leaves. Some sunflowers grow to over 16 feet in height though there are also varieties today that have been developed for small spaces and containers.

Most sunflowers are remarkably tough and easy to grow as long as the soil is not waterlogged. Most are heat- and drought-tolerant. They make excellent cut flowers and many are attractive to bees and birds.

Planting

  • Sunflowers grow best in locations with direct sun (6 to 8 hours per day); they prefer long, hot summers to flower well.
  • Sunflowers have long tap roots which need to stretch out so the plants prefer well-dug, loose, well-draining soil; in preparing a bed, dig down 2 feet in depth and about 3 feet across to ensure the soil isn't too compact.
  • Find a well-drained location, and prepare your soil by digging an area of about 2-3 feet in circumference to a depth of about 2 feet.
  • Though they're not too fussy, sunflowers thrive in slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline (pH 6.0 to 7.5).
  • Sunflowers are heavy feeders so the soil needs to be nutrient-rich with organic matter or composted (aged) manure. Or, work in a slow release granular fertilizer 8 inches deep into your soil.
  • If possible, put seeds in a spot that is sheltered from strong winds, perhaps along a fence or near a building.

Planting Sunflower Seeds

  • It's best to sow sunflower seeds directly into the soil after the danger of spring frost is past. Ideally, the soil temperature has reached 55 to 60 degrees F.
  • Give plants plenty of room, especially for low-growing varieties that will branch out. Make rows about 30 inches apart. (For very small varieties, plant closer together.)
  • Plant the large seeds no more than 1 inch deep about 6 inches apart after it has thoroughly warmed, from mid-April to late May. You can plant multiple seeds and thin them to the strongest contenders when the plants are six inches tall.
  • A light application of fertilizer mixed in at planting time will encourage strong root growth to protect them from blowing over in the wind.
  • Experiment with plantings staggered over 5 to 6 weeks to keep enjoying continuous blooms.
  • If you see birds scratching around for the seeds, spread netting over the planted area until seeds germinate.

Care

  • While the plant is small, water around the root zone, about 3 to 4 in. from the plant. To protect the plant, it may help to put snail or slug bait around the ste
  • Once the plant is established, water deeply though infrequently to encourage deep rooting. Unless the weather is exceptionally wet or dry, water once a week with several gallons of water.
  • Feed plants only sparingly; overfertilization can cause stems to break in the fall. You can add diluted fertilizer into the water, though avoid getting the fertilizer near the plant's base; it may help to build a moat in a circle around the plant about 18 inches out.
  • Tall species and cultivars require support. Bamboo stakes are a good choice for any plant that has a strong, single stem and needs support for a short period of time.

Pests

  • Birds and squirrels will show interest in the seeds. if you plan to use the seeds, deter critters with barrier devices. As seed heads mature and flowers droop, you can cover each one with white polyspun garden fleece.
  • If you have deer, keep them at bay with a tall wire barrier.
  • Sunflowers are relatively insect-free. A small gray moth sometimes lays its eggs in the blossoms. Pick the worms from the plants.
  • Downy mildew, rust, and powdery mildew can also affect the plants. If fungal diseases are spotted early, spray with a general garden fungicide. 

Harvest/Storage

  • For indoor bouquets, cut the main stem just before its flower bud has a chance to open to encourage side blooms.
  • Cut stems early in the morning. Harvesting flowers during middle of the day may lead to flower wilting. 
  • Handle sunflowers gently. The flowers should last at least a week in water at room temperature.
  • Arrange sunflowers in tall containers that provide good support for their heavy heads, and change the water every day to keep them fresh.

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

  • To harvest seeds, keep an eye out for ripeness. The back of the flower head will turn from green to yellow and the bracts will begin to dry and turn brown; this happens about 30 to 45 days after bloom and seed moisture is about 35%. Generally, when the head turns brown on the back, seeds are usually ready for harvest.
  • Cut the head off the plant (about 4 inches below the flower head) and remove the seeds with your fingers or a fork.
  • To protect the seeds from birds, you can cover the flowers with a light fabric such as cheesecloth and a rubber band. Or, you can cut the flower head early and hang the heads upside down until they seeds are dry; hang indoors or in a place that's safe from birds and mice.

Recommended Varieties

Everyone is familiar with the huge sunflowers that grow on towering eight-foot-tall stalks. But, did you know that some varieties top off at a modest 15 inches?

  • The towering 'Mammoth' variety is the traditional giant sunflower. It is excellent for snacks and bird feeds, too.
  • 'Autumn Beauty': One of the most spectacular cultivars, has many 6-inch flowers in shades of yellow, bronze, and mahogany on branching stems up to 7 feet tall.
  • 'Sunbeam': A standout bouquet flower, the van Gogh sunflower grows on a 5-foot plant with 5-inch flowers. The big, no-mess, pollenless flowers have rich, golden-yellow rays.
  • 'Teddy Bear': Just 2 to 3 feet tall, this small flower is perfect for small gardens and containers. The fluffy, deep-gold, 5-inch blossoms last for days in a vase.

Special Features

  • Attracts Butterflies
  • Attracts Birds

Cooking Notes

  • Some varieties provide small black seeds that are used in cooking oil, margarine, cosmetics, and animal feed; they are the best sunflower seeds for attracting the greatest variety of songbirds.
  • The bigger, striped seeds are grown for snacking and as an ingredient in bread and health foods. They, too, are used for feeding birds, especially larger species such as jays and mourning doves.
  • For eating, the seeds must be dried on the plants. Rub the seeds off and soak them overnight in a gallon of water to which a cup of salt has been added, then dry them again in an oven at 250 degrees F for 4 to 5 hours. Store them in an airtight container.
  • One way to remove them is to rub the head of the sunflower across an old washboard or something similar. Just grip the head and rub it across the board as if you were washing clothes.

Wit & Wisdom

  • Need a bird seeder? Save dry heads and set them out in winter.
  • Save thick sunflower stems and dry them for winter kindling.
  • Interesting Fact: An anonymous buyer paid over $39 million in 1987 for Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers.
  • Kansas is "The Sunflower State."

Here and yonder, high and low,
Goldenrod and sunflowers glow.

–Robert Kelley Weeks (1840–76)

E-Cards

Send a free e-card of a golden sunflower. Click here to find more sunflower images in our e-card gallery.

Comments

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There are many varieties of

By Almanac Staff

There are many varieties of sunflowers. They are either single-stem or multi-branched plants. Branching types, also known as multiflowering, produce multiple stems and lots of flowers. A stray branching sunflower seed must have been mixed in with your single-stem seeds. Enjoy the bonus flowers!!

we are just growing a

By t gamble

we are just growing a sunflower seed is is about 4 inches but it has 2 stems why will it be ok
thank you

I work at an assisted living

By Brandi Macias

I work at an assisted living facility as an activity coordinator in Florida. I picked up a few "Grow A Sunflower in a can" as a fun project to do with my residents. It consisted of a can with a pull tab on the bottom and a pull off top. Inside was the soil( which was the consistancy of flakes) and a bag of seeds. We placed the cans in pots. They have been in our windowsill for a month now. They are about 6 inches growing outward. My questions are I have heard of them leaning toward the sun, but are they supposed to be growing out? (Each plant has about 3-4 four stems.) When and how do I replant them along our fence? Do I need to completly remove the mulch after planting?

Carefully remove the

By Almanac Staff

Carefully remove the sunflowers from the cans without breaking the roots and plant outside in the soil. Sunflowers have long roots and will benefit from growing outside. You can mulch around the plants to keep weeds down and keep moisture in the soil. Good luck!

I just bought a sunflower

By Bonkers

I just bought a sunflower from a nursery, and once I planted it the petals dried up and and fell off! I planted it just as I was told, and I have no idea what happened. They said, "Come August this will really take off! Just plant it and it will thrive." Well, I planted it and it's definitely not thriving...is there any hope? Its leaves and stem look healthy.

It sounds like the problem

By Almanac Staff

It sounds like the problem may be your soil. Sunflowers are heavy feeders. If you try again, work some slow release granular fertilizer into the soil.

Hello my mom bought me a pot

By Neferteri

Hello my mom bought me a pot of tiger eye rudbeckia sunflowers about three weeks ago and unfortunately are not doing very well. I live in a high rise building. I try to let them get as much morning sun as they can when it sets in the morning. We have been getting a lot of rain storms lately and I'm sure that can't be good for them. I have been watering once a week. Still they seem to not be very happy. Need help please!!

You have the right instincts.

By Almanac Staff

You have the right instincts. Sunflowers need lots of sunshine and they are also love heat and tend to be hot, dry-weather plants. For that reason, they really do prefer to be outside in all the sun and heat. Do you have a balcony that allows the plant to get sun on all sides? If you are going to grow your sunflower in a pot, it's best to have a pot at least 15" deep because they like to send their roots out. In a container, you may need to water more than once a week; make sure the soil is moist not soggy; notice when the leaves start to wilt as this means it's thirsty. To perk it up, give the plant about a half dose of fertilizer food every other week.

When you cut a sunflower from

By Barbara Underwood

When you cut a sunflower from the stem, do you leave the stem in the soil for further blooms?

Whether or not a sunflower

By Almanac Staff

Whether or not a sunflower reblooms depends on the variety. Mammoth sunflowers do not rebloom.

So I have been growing potted

By thephuturemrssmitj

So I have been growing potted Sunny Smile sunflowers for my wedding centerpieces. I have over 140 in various stages of life in a small greenhouse right now, the bulk of which are starting to peek yellow. Once these little guys flower, how long do I have before they die off. If I keep them fed and watered will the blooms hold through the wedding in 6.5 weeks?

Congratulations on your

By Almanac Staff

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding.
It looks like you picked the perfect variety of sunflowers, Sunny Smile, because they have the ability to bloom year-round if temps stay above 60 degrees F, regardless of day length.

I just wanted to say how

By Melissa_S

I just wanted to say how amazed I am at how fast the Mammoths grow! I just planted a packet of Burpee Mammoths last Sunday, and today little seedlings have popped their two leaves up and out of the ground! I guess all the hot weather we've had up here in NJ is very favorable to them.

I have some that are almost

By Kara V

I have some that are almost 10 feet tall. This has been a great experience growing these giant flowers that make the whole neigborhood smile. I have yellow and red ones.

some of my sunflowers seem to

By ron isabel

some of my sunflowers seem to bend leaning towards the sun. they are in some large pots and about 7" tall. if I spin the pot 180° they seem to lean the opposite way again towards the sun. is this normal activity for mammoth type sunflowers?

Yes, it is normal for

By Almanac Staff

Yes, it is normal for sunflowers to "follow" the sun.

In fact, the French word for

By MKB25

In fact, the French word for sunflower is tournesol, meaning turn to the sun.

hi i bought some moonwalker

By chelsea Laferriere

hi i bought some moonwalker sunflower seeds for our daughters and we did not seperate the seeds and we put them in a really small container and now surprisingly there are about six of them all grown close together and their about 10 inches tall and we just transplanted them in the ground do you think that they will continue to grow good that close together basically seems like on one root

If you keep the sunflowers

By Almanac Staff

If you keep the sunflowers clustered, you will probably get taller stalks but smaller heads. It's fine to sow them in a clump, but you'll want to thin them to 3 or 4 for size. If you want a giant, them them to 2 plants at 1 foot tall. It's up to you!

hi this is chelsea again my

By chelsea laferriere

hi this is chelsea again my sunflowers are still growing well they are almost 2 feet tall now and i was wondering when they might bloom they have been in the ground for a little over 2 and half weeks

My son planted a sunflower

By gginsant

My son planted a sunflower seed from a package of the flavored kind you eat (Davids) to our amazement it's growing. It's about 12 inches tall right now, honestly we didn't think it would grow. He must have a green thumb cause I can't keep plants alive

My plants are about 2 inches

By Carol Minckler

My plants are about 2 inches tall and some are tipping over.Is this normal?

Container has no holes in bottom

By Anonymous

I bought a little kit for growing sunflowers to plant with my son. It included the seeds, dirt, and a small container (12" x 6"). We planted, and like an idiot I didn't even think to look for drainage holes. They are now planted and the seedlings are about an inch tall and look great, but they are constantly wet because the container has no drainage holes. I've left them out in full sunlight, hoping to dry the soil, but its not working. I'm afraid to transfer them yet because I would think its too early and that I would damage the roots. I know nothing about gardening, and can't seem to keep anything alive, despite a deep desire to be an avid Gardner. I was hoping this year would be different. Please help! Thanks!

Carefully move the soil and

By Almanac Staff

Carefully move the soil and seedlings to a bigger pot with drainage holes. The roots are not that big yet and you should be able to transplant without problems.

Cost

By Anonymous

it needs to tell the cost and also where it can be found like the zones and things like that. It also needs to tell the Pros (the good things about it. and the Cons (the bad things about it)

Sunflowers

By Anonymous

Sunflower seeds can be bought at almost any store in the garden section. They cost any where from 1 to 5 dollars and the only cons I could foresee would be if you don't like birds and wildlife, because these flowers will attract them . Happy planning!:-)

I Live SouthouthCarolina And

By Robert Brian Gilstrap

I Live SouthouthCarolina And Wanted To Know If It's To Late To Plant Some Sun Flowers For My Honey Bees ?

new plant

By Anonymous

My son has plantd a sunflower seed at nursery and at the moment its a long green stem with 2 leaves at the top. It sometimes leans to one side, what should i do?

help

By Anonymous

you could put a stick in the ground to hold it up, and secure it with some twine or string

Supporting the stem

By Anonymous

I would use a dowel rod to support the stem with yarn or some soft string.

it just needs some support

By Anonymous

Put a bamboo stick next to it or a steak it can lean on it or you can tie is with pantie hose loosly

stink bugs

By Anonymous

I grew beautiful sunflowers last spring her in Florida, they were 12 feet tall. One of the issues I had were stink bugs burrowed into the heads of the flowers. What can I use to treat them this year to prevent them from coming back?

Use a notepad app on your

By hipnosis

Use a notepad app on your phone or even carry a real notepad with you.
Looked at this way, the three types of hypnosis are: Traditional
hypnosis, Ericksonian hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic
Programming (or NLP for short). Let's find out what makes some bedsheets softer
when compared with others.

Stink bugs!

By Anonymous

They are probably eating insect eggs.
I just learned this year that they are predatory insects.

It's great that you are being

By Almanac Staff

It's great that you are being proactive. You have to deter stink bugs before the population grows or there is not a lot that you can do. In early spring, you could set out traps in trees and bushes where emerging bugs will head to mate. (Google search for "rescue stink bug traps.) You can swipe all the egg masses from under the leaves into soapy water (wear gloves). You can spray insecticidal soup directly on any bugs you find. All the best!

wedding on September 7th

By Anonymous

I'm having a wedding in ohio sept 7th when would I want to plant sunflowers to have blooms on my wedding date?

I have about 20 sunflowers in

By Shirley McCain

I have about 20 sunflowers in my yard. Many of them have bloomed but some of them haven't opened yet. I planted them in March--I live in Florida. I would get them in the ground no later than May or RIGHT NOW if I were you. Many of them should be ready by Sept. They usually take about 90 days to flower from germination. Try buying starters to get a head start.

Look at the dates to maturity

By Almanac Staff

Look at the dates to maturity on the back of the sunflowers seed packet and back up from there. But note that seeds can not be planted any earlier than the time when your soil temperature has reached 55 to 60 degrees F.

hello,my teacher says we have

By ?

hello,my teacher says we have to plant a sunflower seed over half term,and we could win a chocolate bar, so how do you look after a sunflower? and i need to have the tallest,please help me?

I would buy the Mammoth seeds

By Shirley McCain

I would buy the Mammoth seeds and plant them in individual pots in full sun. I have one that is about 12 feet tall right now and is just getting ready to open. Can't wait! You will probably need to support it with a stick and string because they like to lean when they start getting tall. Their heads bow naturally.

Pet Problems

By Anonymous

My cat has been eating all my sunflowers and I tried everything. What should I do?

add black pepper powder to

By Anonymous

add black pepper powder to your sunflowers and to the the soil, no more cats!

cats and sunflowers

By Anonymous

Cats seem to be attracted to sunflower pollen about as much as they are to cat nip. I also grow raspberries and roses. When I prune the rose and raspberries I save the branches to use as a barrier for animals I want to stay away from my plants. That also works on rabbits and cats that want to eat or dig kitty litter boxes in your flower beds or garden beds. Also a slight sprinkling of red pepper or a spray made from habenero/garlic works for most animals even cats.

Sunflowers are not toxic to

By Almanac Staff

Sunflowers are not toxic to cats according to the ASPCA. However, to discourage cats from eating your plants, you might try putting a lemon gel air freshener in the pot or just beside it. Cats don't like the smell of citrus.
Also, you might try training techniques, such as squirting the cat with a spray of water from a spray bottle if it's caught digging. (Be patient--behavior training takes time. Some cats will just become more frisky with this method, thinking it a game!)
Provide your kitty with its own cat grass or catnip plants to discourage interest in the houseplants. Seed kits for these plants can be found at pet stores or some grocery stores.
Set houseplants in areas that are not easily accessible to your cat--hang them up or set them on higher shelves.
Cover the soil of larger plants with decorative rocks.
Good luck!

cats having their way with flower pots

By Anonymous

I tried something different that worked for my cat. I placed mouse traps in my flower pots. It didn't take but just a couple snaps and no more cat in the flower pot.

mouse trap to deter cat

By Anonymous

Ive tried this trick, put a full piece of paper over the trap, the cat will still trigger it but wont get caught

But what if.......the cat's

By Mariann

But what if.......the cat's paw or whiskers could get it. Does not seem 100% safe.

Mouse traps to deter cat

By Anonymous

Couldn't that have harmed your cat?

seed question

By Anonymous

Brand new gardener here! I was given sunflower seeds and I was wondering: when planting them, is it only 1 seed per hole on the ground?? Or multiple?? Thanks!!

Plant 3 seeds per hole. Then

By Almanac Staff

Plant 3 seeds per hole. Then thin sunflower to one plant per hole at 4 true leaf stage.

starting sunflowers indoors

By Anonymous

I plan on growing sunny smile sunflowers in pots for my wedding july 27th of this year. I started a test batch of 10 1/21/2013...8 germinated and have been placed into 4 inch pots. The leaves were growing nicely but have stopped recently. They are on a mat warmer with flourescent lights overhead. I moved the lights up some today as the flowers were close. Could that be why the gowth has stagnated? Nothing to reach for? Or could I be over watering?

sunflower seedlings

By Almanac Staff

Keep the light about 6 or so inches above the seedlings; no more than 12 inches above. Turn the light off each night, after the seedlings have had about 12 to 14 hours of light for the day.

After the seedlings were transplanted into the 4-inch pots, there might have been a pause in upper growth while the plants focus on developing roots. Also, sunflowers do not like transplanting, so they may be recovering from their relocation to a larger pot. Sowing seeds in peat pots, newspaper pots, or other biodegradable container helps to avoid shock, as you can transplant them directly (pot and all) into the ground without disturbing the roots.

Also check that the temperature is appropriate (about 70 to 80F), and that there aren't any drafts: too cold or hot may delay growth. The seedlings need consistent water, but do not over water, as this may invite disease.

Hope this helps!

Thank you! The light was much

By Anonymous

Thank you! The light was much closer than that. I sowed the seeds in little peat pods and put those entirely into the pot with the potting mix. I think its a temperature issue. The plants are under lights in the basement and its chilly. I will find a warmer spot!

sunflower seeds for planting

By Anonymous

Are the sunflower seeds sold for wild bird feeders appropriate for planting also? I want to grow the plants for the birds and for fertilizer at the end of the season.

Glenys, Grandview, Texas

sunflowers and bird seed

By Almanac Staff

Sunflower seeds from bird seed can be planted in the garden if they have not been hulled or otherwise treated. You need the entire seed, including the outer shell.

Planting from seed packets, on the other hand, will give you more options as to the type of sunflower--height, petal color, size of seed head, etc. (Also, the taller the variety, the more vegetation you'll likely have for fertilizer/compost.)

Growing new sunflowers

By Anonymous

Can we harvest our sunflowers seeds and then plant again next summer? Thanks!

Yes. Remove the sunflower

By Almanac Staff

Yes. Remove the sunflower seeds from the flower heads and dry them on paper towels in a warm place. Put the seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry storage place.

rustic Sunflower wedding

By Anonymous

You might have answered my question in a previous reply to another person. I am having a country Rustic wedding in the first week of October. when is the earliest i can plant my sunflower seeds ?

rustic Sunflower wedding con;t

By Anonymous

I also live in north Florida if that makes a diffrence

Sunflowers are perfect for

By Almanac Staff

Sunflowers are perfect for Florida. You'll plant seeds in the summer for fall bloom. You need to look at the seed packet and just back out the number of days to maturity as it depends on the cultivar (type of sunflower) that you choose. Autumn Beauty takes 95 to 100 days. Other cultivars have shorter schedules.

June Wedding

By Anonymous

I am getting married in June (22nd) of this year and we are planning on growing our sunflowers for the wedding. When would be the best time to plant them?

Look at the dates to maturity

By Almanac Staff

Look at the dates to maturity on the back of the sunflowers seed packet and back up from there. But note that seeds can not be planted any earlier than the time when your soil temperature has reached 55 to 60 degrees F.

in a cold -1 degree

By Anonymous

how can i save my sunflower dying in a cold temperature?is there any chance if i move it indoor?

cold and sunflowers

By Almanac Staff

Most common sunflowers are annuals, which only live one year. If you have one of these, it is unlikely to do well indoors if you bring it in when temperatures gets colder, since at that time the plant is likely nearing the end of its life cycle. Plus, the added stress to the plant due to the move (unless, perhaps, it is already in a container) may shorten its days even more.

Some people have had success growing sunflowers inside in winter under fluorescent lights in a warm spot. (These plants were grown as houseplants, and hadn't ever been outdoors.)

In warm climates, sunflowers sometimes can be planted outside for bloom in winter, although they may not be as vigorous as summer plants.

Perennial sunflowers will die back in winter and re-sprout in spring. Normally for these, you wouldn't have to bring it indoors when it gets cold. In fall, after the plant has died back, cover the soil with mulch to protect the roots over winter.

october wedding

By Anonymous

I am trying to plan a wedding for middle to late October and want to plant a field of sunflowers that will be bloomed well about that time. I live in north Georgia. When would I need to plant them and is there a specific type that would do best? I preferably want the ones that have Orange in them as well.

Science Plant Girl

By Anonymous

You should plant them in about mid-august .

Planting dates.

By Anonymous

you must be talking about in the south, i'm in PA.

Sunflower wedding

By Anonymous

We want to plan our wedding around the sunflower harvest. Can anyone tell me when in August is best to plan for?

Look at the dates to maturity

By Catherine Boeckmann

Look at the dates to maturity on the back of the seed packet and back up from there. But note that seeds can not be planted any earlier than the time when your soil temperature has reached 55 to 60 degrees F.

When should I plant in WA.

By Anonymous

I want to plant a lot of Sunflowers along my fence. All sizes. When to plant in Tacoma WA.?

Plant the seeds after your

By Almanac Staff

Plant the seeds after your last frost in the spring (mid to late April). You may want to plant seeds every 2 weeks to have blooms throughout the growing season. Stop planting about 75-100 days before the first winter frost is expected in your location (end of October).

My Sunflowers Petals

By Anonymous

My sunflower (not sure about the type) grew beautifully, high and bright. The petals were all there until one morning when I noticed some of them falling off! I was afraid that it was drying out, despite my daily watering. Now, I'm wondering if I over-watered!
Will it eventually produce seeds, even though it has lost some of its petals? How should I proceed at this point? THANK YOU!!

Annual sunflowers grow for

By Almanac Staff

Annual sunflowers grow for one season. When the petals fall the plants energy goes to producing seeds. Check the flower to see if seeds are forming.

hi everyone, i need help, what do i do next?

By Anonymous

Hello, so my sun flowers bloomed beautifully and I waited till it was time to harvest the seeds. Now that I harvest the seeds, what do I do with the trunk/ stem of the sun flower? Do I rip it out of the soil and plant new seeds? Or do I leave it and a new one will eventually sprout? I have no clue what to do next.... Help! :)

Harvesting sunflowers

By Almanac Staff

If you have an annual sunflower with a single flower on top, then once you harvest the seeds, it's OK to cut the stalk down to the base or remove it completely. If you have an annual sunflower with multiple flowers, you can harvest each flower as the seeds become ripe, but leave the other flowers to complete their ripening. After all flowers have been harvested, you can cut the plant down to the base or remove it completely. Annuals will only grow for one season, so you will need to plant more seeds in spring.

If you have a perennial sunflower, with multiple flowers, harvest each flower as its seeds become mature. Once all of the flowers have been harvested, wait until the foliage has died in late autumn before cutting the plant back to the ground (keep roots intact); the perennial will start new growth next spring.

seeds forming

By Anonymous

i can see the seeds forming. do i stop watering and just let dry out until back flower turn dry looking

Sunflower care at harvest time

By Almanac Staff

Keep up with the deep but infrequent watering. As the seeds mature, the plant still needs that water to carry out its daily functions, including seed formation.

Watch the back of the flower: When it turns yellow, you can harvest it (leaving about a foot of stalk with the flower) and then hang it upside down in a dry, warm, protected location.

Or, when the back is yellow you can cover the flower with a paper bag secured with string while it is still attached to the plant, to protect it from birds and other critters. Wait for the flower head to turn brown and the seeds to fully ripen. Then you can cut it off the plant and rub your hand over the seeds; they should fall out easily.

Mammoth sunflowers

By Anonymous

I have them growing one is 4 1/2 ft tall with a bloom already open but is it normal for them to have multiple blooms..there are 4 others getting ready to open..thanks Gina

Mammoths do not normally grow

By Sarah Perreault

Mammoths do not normally grow multiple blooms on one stem. Wild sunflowers do have multiple blooms, so it is possible that your mammoths are being cross-pollinating with nearby wild sunflowers.

Annual planting

By Anonymous

I have a garden spot about 150 ft X 200 ft, I was wondering if I could plant this area in a variety of sunflowers, tall medium and short, every year without damaging the soil?

Rotation is really the best

By Sarah Perreault

Rotation is really the best garden plan. Wait at least three years to replant the same type of flower in the same spot.

Sunflower Bushes...

By Hippie-Mommie

I want to plant a row of Sunflower Bushes along the fence between mine & my neighbors house. I would like to do it before he gets here in October, but I'm worried that they wouldn't do good here in this heat. I know they service well here but is it ok slot start them now is my question. If I buy some bigger matured ones and plant them will they make it in this miserable South Fl heat? Thank u for your answers to a new member : ).

Sunflower Bushes

By Almanac Staff

Sunflowers love hot weather and are not picky about the soil. If you start from seed check the days to maturity on the seed packet to make sure that they will bloom by October. If you buy seedlings make sure to water well until established. There are also sunflower varieties native to Florida available. Good luck!

Do they only bloom once?

By Anonymous

I bought a sunflower "bush" which is about 2' tall, has 3 stalks and had about a dozen flowers on it around July 4th- There were a number of new buds showing up after a few weeks, so I cut off the old dried flowers, but the plant seems to have stopped growing and the leaves are browning. I watered it a lot when I first planted it.(probably too much after reading some of the questions) but it gets Plenty of Sun and the soil is sandy on the acidic side so that's probably not it. Do they only bloom once a year or am I doing something wrong?

If this is a true sunflower,

By Almanac Staff

If this is a true sunflower, Helianthus, and it is one of the annuals (especially a dwarf form), then it could be just that the season is over, or that the plant has reached mature height. Also, if you are watering the plants from overhead during hot sunny weather, the water can burn the leaves, causing them to brown; if this is the case, try watering at the base of the plant only. Sunflowers like moist, but not wet, soil.

drooping sunflowers

By Anonymous

i also bought two sunflower potted plants locally. they were beautiful, full, and abundant with flowers. leaving them in their pots and after about one week, these vibrant plants started looking a little droopy, the leaves beginning to shrivel. i thought maybe they needed water, so followed the next few days with light spraying (it is currently 85-90's here). now all the flowers have dried up, with only one/two new ones blooming. what should i do? do i cut the dead flowers off? i'd hate to lose two large plants.

It could be that your plants

By Almanac Staff

It could be that your plants need larger pots, especially if the varieties that you have are the larger types of sunflowers. Also, be careful to water at the base of the plant; water on the leaves during hot sun will burn them. Make sure the pots offer good drainage—that there are drainage holes at the bottom, so the soil isn’t soggy. Have the plants gone through any environmental changes when you brought them home? For example, have nights been cooler? Is the site you selected much hotter or are they in more direct sun for a longer time than when they were at the store? If so, then it could be the plants are under stress and are trying to acclimate to their new space. Does it look as if the old flowers are going to seed? If so, you can deadhead them to encourage blooming. Hope this helps!

Sunflowers

By Anonymous

Wooo I got me some cool sunflowers I planted months ago from seeds just take care of them daily check on them and they should be fine spray them with bug spray for plants here a nd there give them plant food and waa laaa u got sunflowers

Help! Do I need to cut my sunflower's head when it gets droopy?

By Anonymous

I bought 2 sunflowers from a plants shop last week and they look gorgeous. After planting them into the garden soil by a couple of days and watering daily at sunset, their leaves seemed droopy and the flower head that was so open and bright now seems droopy too. Now new buds are coming out, do I need to cut the old heads off? I live in Epping in Loughton, UK. And really would love my sunflowers to survive as they are gorgeous in direct sunlight most of the day.
I'm still watering them daily, just don't know what to do with the droopy heads as don't want to make a mistake that would kill them. Please help save my sunflowers :-(

Sunflower care

By Anonymous

You are probably watering them too much. They like moist, not wet soil. Cut back on the watering and see what happens. Good Luck!

Sunflowers

By Anonymous

When the flower head dies, we have to cut it off to allow the new younger buds to grow and open. That's what the local nusery told me when i bought mine, if it works i will be buying more to have a nice long line of 10. Want to get the "Mammoth" type so i can have some real tall beauties. Living in Roydon, Essex.

We love sunflowers, too! Most

By Almanac Staff

We love sunflowers, too! Most cultivated sunflowers only have one central flower and then set seed. They do not rebloom--‘Mammoth’ is one. There are varieties that have more than one flower on a stem. These plants usually have a main flower, and typically 3 to 4 side branches with flowers. ‘Golden Cheer’ and ‘Soraya’ are a couple.

The heads may be drooping

By Almanac Staff

The heads may be drooping because they are getting heavier as the seeds are developing and it's near harvest time. Have the back of the heads turned yellow? However, the drooping leaves makes us wonder if you are overwatering. At this stage, pull back on the water and allow the soil to dry well before you water again. You can deadhead spent flowers--unless you wish to harvest sunflower seeds. For seeds, pick the heads and hang them upside-down in a warm, dry place. When the head is dry, the seeds separate easily!

sunflowers

By Anonymous

I have an ornamental sunflower plant in a pot. When I got it, there was one small but beautiful sunflower open and several buds. The original flower is gone, and the buds are large and trying to open, but they never make it to the fully open flower stage...They push out some yellow petals, open a wee bit, then die. What am I doing wrong?

Often lack of bloom is due to

By Almanac Staff

Often lack of bloom is due to lack of strong sun and heat. The trouble could also be due to a disease or insect. Check for entrance holes, frass, or discoloration at the base of the bud or sunflower head. Are there any other symptoms, such as wilting, or brown areas on the stem? Without a sample, it's hard for us to diagnose. You may wish to visit a local garden center or your cooperative extension office.

Rabbits (or another rodent) Chewed My Sunflowers!

By Anonymous

Does anyone know what to do about rabbits (rodents) gnawing sunflowers? When my sunflowers were small (I was growing them in a pot), I had them on the ground to get some sun. Then, one day, I checked them, and all of them, except two plants, were chewed off! Ever since that tragic incident, I have kept my sunflowers in pots on the deck. Has anyone else had this problem? If so, what did you do?

Rabbits like sunflowers. Here

By Almanac Staff

Rabbits like sunflowers. Here are natural non-chemical ways to deter rabbits: sprinkle plants with human hair, deodorant soap, dog urine, or organic commercial repellents. Or, use noise makers responding to movement or fencing. Unfortunately, fencing seems the most effective method. See our Rabbits page: http://www.almanac.com/content/rabbits

Rabbit problems

By Anonymous

wow you are so mean( heres a non violent solution) dig a small 6 inch trench around ur plants, then put a small fence in at least 3 feet or taller. Or do it the other way if u intend to kill the poor little rabbit

I missed the violence that

By Anonymous

I missed the violence that you are speaking of...sounded like simple solutions to repel critters and keep them away from your plants. Wasn't suggested to let the dog loose on em or pegged with a bb gun lol that my friend is violence!

Planting Sunflowers in August?

By Anonymous

I want to plant a sunflower patch at an outdoor community festival occuring in the beginning of August (we are located in Detroit, MI). Is this really bad timing since we will more than likely only have 2 more months of summer? If we do this will we be prepping for the seeds to come up the following spring?

Most sunflower varieties

By Almanac Staff

Most sunflower varieties blooms 55 to 75 days after planting. Find the number of days to maturity on your seeds packets. As long as it blooms by your first first, it's OK to plant. You can your first fall frost dates here: http://www.almanac.com/content/frost-chart-united-states Your frost is probably around early October so they may flower in time.

Sunflower

By Anonymous

my sunflowers seem real dry, watering them daily (twice. We are in Arizona seems when heat turned up, they started looking dry. Too much water? Second, at end of summer, do you need to remove stalk and all? Or will the grow flowers following season?

Sunflowers in Arizona enjoy

By Almanac Staff

Sunflowers in Arizona enjoy DEEP watering once a week--or, when the soil is dry below the first joint of your finger. For most varieties, you should expect them to grow for about 90 days and then the bloom will last a week or so. They will slowly dry out until it's a dried head on a brown stalk. At that point, you can take out some seeds to plant next year, harvest the seeds for eating, or let the birds enjoy the seeds. As far as the stalk goes: remove it and hack it up into the compost pile -- or leave it and use for a stake or trellis!

sunflowers

By Anonymous

can u have a house sunflower ?

They now have varieties that

By Almanac Staff

They now have varieties that have been developed for small spaces and containers. However, sunflowers often need lots of sun so location is extremely important.

Try talking with someone at your local garden center on the varieties that will work well in your home.

Thank you for your interest in the Old Farmer's Almanac and our Web site.

Ants

By Anonymous

Ants are eating the leaves of my sunflower what can I do to stop this happening?

Usually, when you see ants,

By Almanac Staff

Usually, when you see ants, you have lots of aphids (pests). Aphids love sunflowers, and ants follow the aphids to farm them for the honeydew. Use a soap spray to get those aphids off your flowers.

sunflower

By Anonymous

Can you have a sunflower plant growing upside down.

We've never tried this.

By Almanac Staff

We've never tried this. Flowers prefer to face the sun. When finished harvesting, you do hang the heads upside down to dry them.

Sprout the seed first?

By Anonymous

Someone recommended that I soak the seeds and place them in the sun to assist with the sprouting of the seed. Do you recommend this?

For sunflowers, soaking the

By Almanac Staff

For sunflowers, soaking the seed isn't needed for your everyday flower. However, crop studies that have shown pre-soaking of sunflower seeds in water for 12 hours or 24 hours followed by drying ensured higher germinability, early emergence, better growth of crop, and increased yield. Time can be saved between sowing and emergence.

My Sunflower

By Anonymous

I've just sowed a sunflower seed in a pot because I'd like to transfer it later on. Will the sunflower be stunted or altered in any way, as opposed to its brethren in the free soil? Also, how often is "infrequently" regarding the watering? Thank you!

As long as the plant has been

By Almanac Staff

As long as the plant has been properly cared for -- given enough light (about 6 to 8 hours at least), good potting mix with soil nutrition, proper watering, no pests/diseases, etc. -- then it can be as healthy as one planted directly outdoors. There’s a chance that it may be even healthier, as there is more opportunity for animals, cultural, other problems to pop up and disturb seedlings sown outdoors. When transplanting, choose a good site and be careful with the roots—try to disturb them as little as possible.
As for watering, sunflowers need about 1 inch of water per week. They can tolerate drought for a time. The soil should not be soggy. If the soil feels dry (say, down to about 1 inch deep from the surface), then it is time to water.

Sunflowers

By Anonymous

I have amazing sunflowers that came from my birdseed. How do I replant the seeds. We just had strong winds in FL and it blew them ALL down. I would love to plant the seeds next year. These sunflowers had numerous stalks/stems and about 15 + flowers each stalk.
THANKS !

Storing sunflower seeds

By Almanac Staff

The seeds need to be ripe and dried properly before storing. You can hang the seed heads in a sunny dry location to dry. Store the dried seeds in a paper bag in a dark cool place, away from critters, until ready to plant. Sow the seeds in good soil that has been amended with some compost or aged manure.

sunflower

By Anonymous

my daughter gave me a sunflower in a pot for mothers day. well the seed sprouted,long green vine now,i don't know what kind it is so i don't know if i should re-pot it outside or in larger pot,what should i do?

re-planting sunflower

By Almanac Staff

If the sunflower is planted in a small container, you need to repot it or plant it in the garden. Depending on what kind of sunflower it is it may need a new pot that is about 16” deep. Sunflowers have long roots.

Forgive the stupid questions...

By Anonymous

I have planted some sunflowers in my flower bed and am getting ready to plant a few mammoth sunflowers in front of my house. I have a few stupid novice questions, bare with me :)

- For the mammoth's, I can just let it keep growing right? Will it rebloom or do I have to harvest it and replant? I have no problem letting the birds get the seeds :)

- For the regular sunflowers, will they rebloom or will I need to replant seeds?

I'm just now getting into the gardening thing and had to start with my favorite flower the sunflower :) tia!!

can i plant the sunflower given to me for mother's day?

By Anonymous

Yesterday I received a sunflower from my mother in law for mother's day. It is about 2 feet tall already & the head is about 4-5 inches across. My great grandmother had a sunflower in her garden when I was growing up & I've always wanted one! Can I keep this thing alive?!

SUN FLOWERS ARE ANNUALS---THEY BLOOM AND DIE

By Anonymous

THE BEST WAY TO HAVE CONTINUOUS BLOOMS IS TO PLANT A VERY SHORT ROW ABOUT EVERY 3 WEEKS TILL MID SEPTEMBER---THE FROST AND FREEZE MAY GET YOUR LATEST PLANTING---BUT IF YOU START IN MARCH AND PLANT EVERY 3 WEEKS YOU WILL HAVE DONE THE BEST YOU COULD TO HAVE BLOOMS ALL SUMMER

planting sunflowers

By Almanac Staff

If the sunflower is planted in a small container, you need to repot it or plant it in the garden. Depending on what kind of sunflower it is it may need a new pot that is about 16” deep. Sunflowers have long roots.
If this is a single flower sunflower, the flower will eventually mature and you can collect the seeds for the birds. Some sunflowers have multiple blooms on one stalk and last longer.

Sun love

By Anonymous

I really love sunflowers ....and somehow i think they live me too!

sunflowers

By Anonymous

my son brought me home a sunflower that he started growing 22 days ago at school when is the best time for me to plsnt it outside and where should i plant it? and i live in florida and my yard is very sandy is that ok?

replanting sunflowers

By Almanac Staff

Yes, you may replant from a small container. Sunflowers grow best in full sun. They prefer average to rich soils as they have very deep roots so sandy soils aren't recommended as the sunflowers might get uprooted. Perhaps it would be better to replant in a bigger pot (that's about 16 inches deep) and set in a place where you and your child can enjoy from the window?

My son brought me home a

By Anonymous

My son brought me home a sunflower too for Mother's Day - I planted mine next to the fence which is sandy also but will receive up to 6-8 hours of sun each day - I'll see in a couple of weeks if it likes where it is - Good Luck & HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

Slugs

By Anonymous

I have a problem with slugs. Do slugs eat sunflowers?

slugs and sunflowers

By Almanac Staff

Yes, slugs eat sunflowers. There are different ways to get rid of them: Put out shallow containers filled with beer. You'll find drowned slugs in the morning Or, if you can do it, handpicking is effective (in early morning or night with a flashlight!). See our SLUG page for more remedies: http://www.almanac.com/content/slugs

Sunflower

By Anonymous

I am planting some new ones this weekend. When I grew Mammoth ones in 2005, they were taller than my mobile home !! You can grow peas as companion plants and the peas will climb up your sunflower stalks. Just be sure to let your sunflowers get a foot tall or more before you plant the peas. Happy gardening.

the sunflower head

By Anonymous

watch the head of the sunflower during the course of a bright sunny day and you will see it rotate to face the sun, fascinating.

Beautiful!

By Anonymous

Beautiful!

Sunflowers

By Anonymous

I am a city girl who has moved to the county. I have always, always wanted sunflowers. I am on my way out to plant them for the first time ever. I hope they survive the efforts of a novice!

sunflowers

By Anonymous

as long as you don't plant them to deep or plant them in full shade they should be fine.

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