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How to grow sunflower?

I have always wanted to plant sunflower. Today, I did a bit of research on the net and plant a few pots. Hope I will have sunflower in 4 months.

What is sunflower?
The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant in the family Asteraceae and native to the Americas, with a large flowering head. The stem can grow as high as 3 metres, and the flower head can reach 30 cm in diameter with the "large" seeds.

How to grow?

Please carefully consider the types of sunflowers you intend to grow and where and how you intend to grow them. I remember our first sunflower crop. We thought of everything and planned a large sunflower garden along our back fence line. Tall varieties in the back, mid height varieties in the middle, and smaller varieties in the front. Everything was perfect.

If you visited our about sunflowers section you learned that the heads of the sunflower tend to follow the predominate direction of the sun. Well, the fence line where we planted our garden is located in the east section of our lot. We live in Southern California so the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. When the taller varieties grew above the fence line the flowers followed the rising sun and we looked at the back of the flowers from our family room window for several weeks.

Needless to say planning is very important. Carefully select your seeds reading all of the information on the seed packs. Pay attention to the height of the plants, and the time to bloom, and the type of flowers. For example, you do not want your back rows to be spent when your front rows are just beginning to bloom.

Consider whether you are planting for cut flowers, or planting to harvest and roast seeds for eating. Maybe you want to plant your sunflowers in pots or create a barrier of sunflowers between you and your neighbors. Seeds for every type of planting are readily available. You just need to have some idea about what you want from your garden.

Seed Germination

Not all sunflower seeds are created equal. Open your package of seeds and lay the seeds out on a table and you will notice that they are all different sizes. One way to ensure even growth and the strongest fastest growing plants is to germinate your seeds before planting. By germinating your seeds before planting you can pick out the seeds that will provide the best chance of success. Typically, the first seeds to germinate will be your strongest best thriving plants.

Soil Considerations

Sunflower plants are like any other plant. The better the soil the more heartier and robust the plant. Our experience shows that sunflowers like a soil that drains well and contains a lot of mulch. About two weeks before planting I mix a bit of steer manure into the soil where I am going to plant.

Sun and Water

Sunflower needs plenty of direct sun; a minimum of 6hrs a day to grow healthy plants. If you plant sunflowers out of direct sun light they will stretch for the sun. They will become so spindly stretching for the sun eventually they will fall to the ground. Ist is recommended full sun for the better part of the day to grow strong healthy sunflowers.

How to harvest?

Harvest sunflower seeds after the flower begins to die back, and most if not all, of the petals have fallen off. Pull out a seed and open it to see if it is full. Cut off the head, leaving a few inches of stalk. Hang the stalks to dry in a well ventilated area. Do not stack them in a box, as mold can develop during the drying process.
As soon as the flowers have dried, extract the seeds by rubbing two flower heads together. They should come off of the flowerhead fairly easily.  Enjoy sharing this crop with wildlife.


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