They not only look mesmerizing but are also edible. With the best soil, they produce seeds that have very high nutritional value and can be used as a tasty snack. These are non-fussy and low-maintenance plants that can be grown anywhere. In this post, we will be discussing everything from the best soil for sunflowers to their edible usage. So, keep reading further!
- Can Sunflowers Be Grown At Home?
- Best Soil For Growing Sunflowers
- How To Grow Sunflowers – Seed Vs Plant
- Best Ways To Grow Sunflowers
- How To Take Care Of Sunflowers?
- Best Ways To Harvest Sunflowers
- Common Pest And Disease Caught By Sunflowers
- Best Varieties Of Sunflowers To Grow At Home
- Top Tips To Grow Sunflowers
- How To Use Sunflower Seeds For Eating?
About sunflowers, they are big daisy-like flowers which have beautiful bright yellow coloured petals and a brown centre. On ripening, the centre gets filled with seeds. This flower can be grown in any season throughout the year. As you may know, Sunflowers are heat-loving plants. They are heliotropic in nature, they follow the movement of the sun.
Commonly, sunflowers grow up to 16 ft tall. However, there are some shorter varieties of these flowers known as the dwarf sunflowers which are shorter in size.
Growing sunflowers is not a tough task. These can be easily grown at home provided a few favourable conditions. The best part is, they are tolerant of heat and drought and can be easily grown in any soil with good drainage.
With that said, let’s dig deep into the process of growing and harvesting sunflowers!
Can Sunflowers Be Grown At Home?
Everyone loves these beautiful flowers. They look so peaceful and instantly uplifts the mood. Sunflowers have the ability to change the whole vibe of a place. Due to so much versatility, everyone wants to grow sunflowers. But, the biggest question arises, can sunflowers be grown at home?
The simple answer is yes!
You can easily grow sunflowers in your home garden. These pretty flowers can be grown anywhere provided the place has direct sunlight. These are tough plants which can be grown in any soil provided that it is not waterlogged. After some weeks of planting, they can withstand even drought conditions. You don’t have to take additional care of them. Sometimes, they also get replanted on their own with the help of leftover seeds.
Best Soil To Grow Sunflowers
When it comes to the best soil to grow sunflowers, you don’t need to worry much. All you have to do is to take care of a few things.
Sunflowers thrive in fertile soils with a good amount of organic matter and good drainage ability. They can be grown in sandy, loamy and even well-drained clay soil. Since clay alone is waterlogged soil, mixing it with other soils and improving its drainage makes it suitable for growing sunflowers.
Sunflowers love to grow in slightly acidic to alkaline soil with a pH of about 6 to 7.5. You can easily adjust the pH of your soil by adding certain additives.
They require soil with high amounts of organic matter and aged slow-releasing manure for their growth.
How To Grow Sunflowers – Seeds Vs Plants
You can grow sunflowers in any way you want. You can either grow the plants indoors in pots or grow them from seeds.
However, the recommended way is growing sunflowers from the seeds as it is more easy and convenient. The best time to grow them is past the frost season. You can plant the sunflowers about 2 weeks before the expected chills. In the case of extreme frost conditions, the good idea is to wait until the temperature of soil reaches up to 55 degrees.
Best Ways To Grow Sunflowers
Sunflowers thrive in hot summers. You can grow them in any spot in your garden that receives 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight without any blockage. These flowers require hot temperatures.
They have long roots which need to stretch. Therefore, they require deep, loose and highly drained soil.
For growing the sunflowers, prepare your garden by digging deep up to 2 feet and make sure the soil is not compacted.
You can also enrich your soil using some slow-release fertilizers most preferably the organic one by incorporating them up to eight inches down the soil. Also, if you’re sowing the seeds then protect the location from strong winds using a fence.
Sowing Sunflower Seeds
As mentioned above, the best time to sow the sunflower seeds is past the spring frost. The temperature of the soil is required to be 13-16 degrees C.
These plants need enough space to stretch and grow. Start by making rows that are 30 inches apart from one another. Now, plant the seeds 1 inch deep and about 6 inches apart in the soil. You can also plant multiple seeds at the place for better results.
In order to provide better nutrition to the roots and prevent them from strong winds, a light spray of fertilizer at the time of planting is recommended. Sunflower seeds are loved by birds. They scratch the planted seeds and relish them. So, use a good netting over the area until the seeds grow in order to protect them from birds.
How To Take Care Of Sunflowers?
After the seeds germinate and the plant is small, water then around the roots about 4 inches from the plants. Put some snail around them for protection.
When the plants become stronger, water deeply to help them spread their roots. However, you don’t need to water the plants on a daily basis. Watering once a week on normal days is sufficient for these plants. On extremely dry days, water frequently.
Don’t even dare to load your plants with an excess of fertilizers. It can burn your beauties. Use diluted fertilizers at the base of the plants. As we already discussed, use good quality organic manure (aged).
Some tall varieties of sunflower require support otherwise they tend to fall on the ground. Hence, use bamboo stakes for providing them with the support they need.
Best Way To Harvest The Sunflowers
For Bouquets :
For making beautiful sunflower bouquets, cut from the main stems above the flower bud. This will help them grow sideways.
Always cut the stems in the morning before the sun becomes strong. If you cut them during the day when the sun is stronger, it can result in wilting of the flower.
Hold the flowers lightly and decorate them in a bouquet container. These are delicate, so provide good support otherwise they will not stand erect due to the heavy flower head. If handled with care they can last up to 10 days.
Change the water daily to keep them alive and fresh.
Harvest Sunflower Seeds For Edible Purpose
This is the beauty of the sunflower plant. They provide a delicious snack in the form of seeds. You can harvest the sunflower seeds at the end of the season. You can use these seeds as munchies for yourself or bird feeder as well.
Here are the tips to harvest the seeds.
Allow the flower to dry on the stem. When the head changes to complete brown colour and petals get dried completely, you will see that the seeds are ready to be harvested. They start coming out of the centre of the dead flower.
This is the right time to collect your seeds. For this purpose, cut the flower heads using a sharp pruner or scissors and collect them in a container to prevent the seed spillage.
Put the heads on a clean surface and place a container or bowl nearby for storing the seeds. Now, rub the flower at the centre using hands to remove the seeds. You can also use a scraper or a fork for this purpose. Another trick to remove the seeds is to rub the flower head over a washboard in a similar way you wash clothes. This will quickly remove all the seeds from the flower head.
If you’re not using the seeds immediately, then cover the container or the flowers with a cheesecloth secured using a rubber band to protect them from birds and dirt.
Another way of harvesting the seeds is to cut the flowers early from the stems and hang them upside down for drying. You can hang them in your living area or kitchen. Make sure they are out of the reach of mice and birds.
Wash the seeds lightly and leave them for drying overnight or for a couple of hours.
After drying completely, your seeds are ready to be used. Either use them to replant or make delicious and healthy recipes by roasting them.
Some Common Pests And Diseases Caught By Sunflowers
The sunflowers are usually insect-free. But sometimes gets attacked by a grey moth which lays eggs on the petals. Remove these worms from the flower. In case you find rust, downy and powdery mildew, spray the plants with a light fungicide at the early stages.
At the time of planting, you will need to protect the seeds from birds, mice and squirrels. Use fencing and bird nets till the plant matures. You can also use white polyspun garden fleece on the individual plant.
Best Varieties Of Sunflowers To Grow At Home
There are many varieties of different sunflowers to grow other than the most common taller ones. Sunflowers come in different heights and colours. Some of the most popular varieties are as follows :
1] Sundance Kid Sunflower
This is a dwarf sunflower which is best suitable for home gardens. It grows up to 2ft taller and can be grown in pots. On reaching a certain height, it gives out beautiful red and yellow coloured flowers.
2] Little Becka Sunflower
This sunflower grows up to 2 feet and produces bi-coloured flowers with orange and red petals. It looks very colourful and used as a decorative plant.
3] Pacino Sunflower
It is also among the shorter or dwarf sunflowers which grows about maximum 16 inches. These plants give out multiple flower heads which looks great in indoor planters. This variety is also known by another name “dwarf Pacino gold”.
4] Suntastic Yellow Sunflower
These sunflowers grow in a flock of a minimum of 5 to 8 flowers. They don’t have much height hence, perfect for bouquets and peat pots.
5] Sunny Smile Sunflower
These types of sunflower plants start giving out flowers in early summer. They are very easy to grow due to their compact size. If you have kids or pets at home, these are a perfect option for you. These can turn your garden into a cute sunflower miniature bed.
6] Multi-colored Sunflowers
If you think that sunflowers can only be yellow, then you’re absolutely wrong.
Through hybrid, many colourful sunflowers can be produced. By using this amazing technique you can cross hybrid between different plants to get colourful sunflowers.
There are many different types of coloured sunflowers like terracotta and earth walker which are covered in below points.
7] Terracotta Sunflower
These are colourful sunflowers which come in dark brown and reddish colours. Due to the beautiful brown colour, they give a hint of fall. They are great for landscaping the corridor.
8] Earthwalker Sunflower
As the name suggests, these sunflowers have dark coloured earthy tints of browns, reds and golds on their petals. They can be grown anywhere easily. The average height of these plants is about 8 to 9 feet. They are great for outdoors.
9] Ms Mars Sunflower
Ms Mars Sunflower is a very exotic variety of sunflowers. It has red and purple coloured petals with a hint of yellow colour in the end. They look gorgeous when grown in planters.
10] Chianti Sunflower
This one doesn’t look like a sunflower at all. One can’t simply tell if it is sunflower or any other type of wildflower. It is the darkest variety of sunflower that comes with wine coloured petals. These flowers offer a great contrast in the garden.
Top Tips To Grow Sunflowers
Here are some best tips to grow and nurture your sunflowers :
- Although these flowers don’t require much attention and don’t mind drought-like conditions, water them at their growth period. Only If you don’t know, the growth period is 20 days before the flowering and 20 days later. Water your plants deeply near the roots to encourage growth. Keep in mind, taller the plant more will be its water requirement.
- You don’t need to fertilize your sunflowers very often. But in case they grow very fast, you can add slow-release granular fertilizer to provide them nutrition. Pay special attention to the fertility of the soil. Nutrient-rich soil will result in better and bigger flowers. Also, don’t use nitrogen showers, it can delay the blooming.
- Cover the plants with 2 to 3 inch mulch preferably straw. It will protect the plant from losing the moisture and will also help in preventing weeds.
- If your sunflowers are of taller variety then they are most likely to bend down due to the excess weight of the head. The good idea is to provide them with enough support. When they reach 3 ft, use bamboo stakes to support them.
- To protect your sunflowers from wind storms, tie them loosely to the stakes using some soft rope.
- When the seeds become ready to harvest, birds attack them again. Let them enjoy the seeds If you don’t like to use them. Otherwise, use barrier devices to protect the seeds from birds.
How To Use Sunflowers Seeds For Eating?
For those who don’t know, sunflowers seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins, amino acids and linoleic acid which helps in increasing the metabolism and burning the excess fat. Don’t be surprised after knowing that the amount of protein in sunflower seeds is almost equal to the amount of protein present in the same amount of red meat. These are also rich in potassium and iron. They contain essential vitamins like B, E and A. When sprouted they develop Vitamin C too.
That’s Phenomenal !! Right??
Here are some ways in which you can use the sunflower seeds.
Use raw sunflowers seeds along with other seeds and dry fruits as a snack. You can also prepare your nutritious seed mix by mixing sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, almonds and raisins. They make a great breakfast. Either eat the mix alone or use it as a garnish on your oats or smoothie bowls.
You can also add the seeds to your salads for adding a crunch and a nutty flavor. These seeds can also be folded in the batter for baking goods.
For enhancing the taste, dry roast the seeds on a low heat in a skillet for 10 minutes. You can also toast them in a microwave, just lay them over a baking tray lined by a cookie sheet at 350 F for 10 minutes. Cool down the seeds and store them in an airtight container.
Sunflowers require very less care and look outstanding in a garden. They change the whole landscape and also provide nutritional seeds. These reasons are enough to grow them in your garden. We have provided all the information for growing the sunflowers and using them. By following the above-mentioned steps, you can easily grow them at your home. We hope this article helps you. Happy Gardening!