How to Grow and Care for Sunflowers

A bunch of yellow and bright sunflowers can boost your dull day with their cheerful presence. If you are thinking of bringing a new addition to your garden this summer, you should pick Sunflowers. Growing Sunflowers in pots are easy as they will fit both indoors and outdoors with little care.  

As this tough plant is tolerant to heat and can grow in any soil, you will be amazed by the full bloom with easy maintenance. This article will give you simple and basic guidelines to care for growing sunflowers so that your garden will be brightened up in the summer with its yellow hue.

Sunflower Varieties

Take a look at these sunflower varieties that will be great options for your garden-

American Giant:

  • Variety- Giant
  • Features- Annual, South facing, West facing, cut flowers
  • Color- Yellow
  • Full Exposure to Sunlight- Yes
  • Maximum Height- 450 centimeters or 14 feets
  • Garden Type- Outdoor

 Suntastic Yellow:

  • Variety- Dwarf
  • Features- Annual, compact flowers, can produce up to 20 flowers  per plant, cut flowers
  • Color- Bright yellow petals with a black or chocolate brown center
  • Full Exposure to Sunlight- Yes
  • Maximum Height- 50 centimeters or 20 inches
  • Garden Type- Indoor
 Suntastic Yellow

Green burst:

  • Variety- Double
  • Features- Annual, cut flowers, early bloomer,  tolerant to drought, resistant to Downy Mildew disease
  • Color- Yellow petals with a bright green center
  • Full Exposure to Sunlight- Yes
  • Maximum Height- 72 inches 
  • Garden Type- Outdoor
Green burst Sunflower

Lemon Queen:

  • Variety- Perennial
  • Features- Annual, cut flowers,  tolerant to drought, compact small flowers
  • Color- Lemon-yellow petals with a brown center
  • Full Exposure to Sunlight- Yes
  • Maximum Height- 84 inches or 7 feets
  • Garden Type- Outdoor
Lemon Queen Sunflower

Ring of Fire:

  • Variety- Specialty
  • Features- Annual, cut flowers, resistant to deers
  • Color- Golden yellow petals and deep brown center surrounded by a mahogany-red ring
  • Full Exposure to Sunlight- Yes
  • Maximum Height- 150 centimeters or 5 feets
  • Garden Type- Indoor, Outdoor
Ring of Fire

Tuscan Gold:

  • Variety- False Sunflowers
  • Features- Perennial, tolerance to heat, tolerant to drought, compact small flowers, cut flowers
  • Color- Sunny yellow petals with a light brown cone-shaped center
  • Full Exposure to Sunlight- Not always. Need 6-7 hours of full sun exposure, 4-6 hours of part sun exposure, and a maximum of 4 hours of full shade.
  • Maximum Height- 32 inches or 3 feets
  • Garden Type- Indoors, outdoors if kept to a shaded place
Tuscan Gold Sunflower

How to Plant Sunflower Outdoors

If you are planning to grow sunflowers from seeds and keep them in your outdoor garden, you need to start planting the seeds in April. After the winter snow melts away and the soil starts to get warm, you can bring the sunflowers outdoor to plant them in your garden or soil bed. Follow these simple steps-

  • Collect your selected variety of sunflower seeds, compost, pots, clear plastic bags, trowel, and recks.
  • Fill your pots with compost and dig 1.5 cm into the pots for planting one sunflower seed in each.
  • After watering the compost mixture, cover the pots carefully with clear plastic bags. Place the pots in a partly shaded place where sunlight cannot reach directly.
  • Pay attention to your sunflower seeds as you need to remove the plastic cover after sprouting.
  • After sprouting, you need to keep the pots outside in the daytime and bring them inside at night. Continue this process for two weeks to toughen up your sunflower plants.  
  • Now prepare your soil beds or selected ground by clearing weeds and mixing manure into the soil. 
  • Plant the sunflowers by keeping 45 centimeters gaps between each other and water them well.
  • If you want to skip the long process and plant the seeds directly in the soil bed, you need to prepare the ground and plant the seeds by keeping a 10 centimeters gap between each seed. After sprouting, plant the sunflowers again by keeping a space of  45 centimeters.

How to Plant Sunflower Plant Indoors

If you have limited space in your indoor garden, you can select the seed variety of dwarf or false sunflowers that will brighten up your small home. You can also select taller varieties if your indoor garden space allows you to do so.  To grow good sunflowers in pots or containers, follow these basic steps-

  • Take a small or medium-sized container and fill it with potting mix and moisturize it well with water.
  • Now, dig 1 and a half inches of the potting mix to sow sunflower seeds. While sowing the seeds, keep a gap of 4-5 inches between each seed.
  • After sprouting and growing a bit tall, transfer the seedlings into larger pots 12-18 inches in depth. If your pots are 8 inches in diameter, you can plant only one seedling there. If your pots are 15 inches in diameter, then you can plant a maximum of 3 seedlings by keeping a 6 inches gap among each other. 
  • Place the pots or containers on your balcony or room beside windows where your sunflowers will get exposed to adequate bright sunlight.
  • Pay attention to not overwatering your plants and keep the soil clean by weeding regularly.

How to Care for a Growing Sunflower

Exposure to Full Sunlight:

Adequate and bright sunlight is the best food for the healthy growth of your sunflowers. They need regular exposure to full sunlight for a minimum of six hours for full as well as healthy bloom. Thus, the placement of soil beds or containers where direct sunlight reaches is extremely important. 

Clean and Well-drained Soil :

Though sunflowers can grow well in almost any soil type, you need to pay attention if the soil is well-drained and filled with good nutrients. Keep the soil neat and clean to prevent the growth of any weeds. Regular weeding is also beneficial to the nutrient maintenance of the soil. 

Regular Watering:

Sunflowers are easy to maintain as they can cope well with dry soil or drought too. Keep the soil moist before and after sprouting. They need regular watering during this growing period to toughen up. During drought,  they can survive in dry soil but will stop giving flowers if you do not water the plants regularly.

Tall sunflower varieties like the Giant or Double are affected mostly by the drought as their height makes the recovery from wilted conditions critical for them. When the weather is extremely hot, try to water regularly when the ground is 1 to 2 inches dry and the sunflowers start to bend towards the ground.

Supporting the Sunflowers:

Tall varieties of sunflowers, such as Giant, Double, or Perennials need extra support to keep their back straight on windy or rainy days. To support growing sunflowers, you can attach the stems with bamboo stakes after toughening the plants and planting them in the soil. This will prevent the breakage of stems and keep your lovely sunflowers well secured.

Sunflower Plant Pests and Diseases

Sclerotinia disease for sunflowers

Sclerotinia Disease:

If this fungal disease attacks the sunflower plants, their leaves start to turn into a yellowish color from being green and healthy. As there is no medicine for Sclerotinia, you need to remove the whole plant if you notice white fungi as well as blackened seeds in the rotten stem. 

Downy Mildew and Powdery Mildew:

Downy Mildew is a water mold that can grow and affect your sunflower plants if the soil is water-clogged. If attacked by this mold, you can see yellowish spots with fluffy mold on the leaves. Powdery Mildew is also a fungal disease that affects the lower leaves of the sunflower plants. 

The infected leaves have white and powdery substances that eventually dry up the leaves. If you can spot these fungal diseases early, spray fungicide or nursery oil mix in the leaves of the plants. As a precaution, you should make sure enough space to circulate adequate air among your sunflower plants.

Birds and Snails:

Birds are very fond of sunflower seeds and often attack the flowers if any precautions are not taken. To stop the birds from feeding away from the seeds during the blooming season, you can cover the sunflower plants with a netting system. This will protect the sunflower seeds and you can preserve them for snacking or planting next year.

Snails are very attracted to young sunflower plants. To prevent damage while growing up, you can crush eggshells and cover the soil to protect them from snail attacks.

Collecting Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are packed with protein and good fats. These seeds can be a healthy option for snacking as you can roast the seeds and keep munching if you are hungry in the afternoon. You can add the seeds to cook several healthy desserts too. You can also extract oil from sunflower seeds which are packed with vitamin E and healthy fats. To collect sunflower seeds, check out these simple steps-

  • After the summer season ends, collect the flowers with stems and cover the heads in paper bags.
  • Wait until the petals are dry and the seeds start to loosen up from the center.
  • Cut the flower heads with sharp scissors and put the loose seeds in a container.
  • To extract the remaining seeds, rub the dry head well and collect the seeds in a bowl or container
  • Now clean the seeds well and dry them out for somedays before roasting
  • Want to preserve the seeds for planting next year? Then put the seeds in an airtight box and preserve them in a cool and dry place.

FAQs: How to Grow and Care for Sunflowers

Do Sunflowers grow back after cutting?

As Sunflowers are a yearly plant, they will not come back after cutting. You can preserve the left seeds for planting next year or feed them to birds before the winter season ends.

Where do Sunflowers grow best?

As Sunflowers are tolerant to heat, put your sunflowers in a place where bright sunlight reaches well. If the soil does not get over-moisturized by water, then your sunflowers will get the ideal place to grow and bloom well.

Should you remove Sunflower leaves?

When the Sunflower plants grow taller, the leaves of the lower flower stem tend to dry away without getting enough exposure to sunlight. Though the leaves do need regular pruning, you can remove these dried leaves with pruning shears.

What is the best month to plant Sunflowers?

The best month to plant Sunflowers can be March or April. After the winter season ends, keep an eye on the temperature at the beginning of the spring. You can start planting sunflowers when the soil temperature reaches at least 10 degrees Celcius.

Are Sunflowers easy to grow?

Yes, Sunflowers are quite easy to take care of. They greatly tolerate heat and grow in almost every type of soil. If proper exposure to sunlight is given, they grow fast and bloom well.

How long does it take for a Sunflower to bloom?

After planting the seeds, a sunflower plant can take 11 to 18 weeks to bloom into bright and yellow flowers.

Do Sunflowers like the rain?

Though Sunflowers are tough plants, they do not cope well with excessive rainfall. In a drizzle or medium rainfall, they will get soaked and survive the rain. Their stem may kneel lower to the ground but they will be back to their glory again with the heat of sunlight.

What do overwatered Sunflowers look like?

If you notice that the leaves of your Sunflower plants are turning yellow, brown, or black with the sign of drooping, your plants are overwatered.

Bright and yellow sunflowers can be a great addition to your indoor and outdoor garden. As they are low maintenance, you can easily grow good sunflowers by ensuring enough exposure to full sunlight and some basic guidelines that I mentioned in the article. If you can follow these steps, you can grow an abundance bloom of sunflowers in your garden in a short period.

Leave a Comment