HOW TO GROW SUNFLOWERS
We all are used to flowers that are used for solely aesthetic purposes. Flowers make great decors plus they are widely bestowed during different celebrations such as birthdays and weddings. However, there is one flower which not only looks interesting but also produces valuable and healthy seeds.
You probably have already guessed that this time growing of sunflowers will be briefly discussed. Perhaps you have already thought of growing sunflowers but have not really understood why you should be doing it and will these gigantic flowers do any good to your garden. This article should help you clarify some of those doubts and guide your through all the specifics of growing sunflowers plus some of the main benefits will be also explained making sure you do not give up on the idea that easily and are prepared to enrich your garden with these sunny, tall and gorgeous flowers.
WHY GROW SUNFLOWERS?
Let’s assume that thus far you do not know anything much about sunflowers. You perhaps know how they look like but you do not have too extensive knowledge on all the benefits of sunflowers and their seeds. There are numerous reasons why every keen gardener should seed some sunflowers but generally speaking they can be divided into two categories:
- Aesthetic value. Sunflowers simply look impressive and they will astonish everyone who visits your garden. Taller, shorter, available in different sizes and even colour shades – you can add some real beauty to your garden by growing some of these majestic flowers. If you have children, they will surely be very amused by flowers which are taller than themselves. To put it in brief, sunflowers can bring some joy and additional brightness to your green kingdom.
- Practical value. As you might know it, sunflowers produce sunflower seeds. Some sunflower seeds are not edible but you can surely opt for edible type of sunflowers. Roasted sunflower seeds are great ingredient of salads or they can be used as a food to snack on while watching TV. Some health benefits of eating sunflower seeds include:
- Improved cardiovascular health;
- It’s a potent source of magnesium;
- Promotes healthy cholesterol levels;
- Contains selenium which is a powerful antioxidant;
- Boosts the mood.
Also, your sunflower seeds will feed not only you but also animals and insects such as birds and bees visiting your garden. Sharing is caring isn’t it?
Your aim is probably to grow your sunflowers as tall and impressive as possible. To achieve this, sowing your seeds directly into the garden’s soil is a must as planting them in a pot beforehand won’t do any good. Sunflowers have rather deep roots and they tend to grow very rapidly; therefore a pot will simply be too little for these purposes.
Sow the flower seeds outdoors about ½in deep. The earlier the better and right after the last frost has passed is the best time for doing this; do not delay sowing your sunflower seeds too much if you really want them to grow tall and gorgeous.
Regarding the spacing, keep in mind that the heads of the flowers are quite large and try to seed them at least 20 inches apart. If your sunflowers start to grow too close, some thinning will surely be necessary.
The sowing process itself couldn’t be easier: start by watering your soil. Then press seeds 1 inch deep in clumps of 5-6. If snails are frequent visitors at your garden, you might have to put snail baits around. Once your flowers have reached the height of approx. 3 inches, check which ones should be thinned out. If you don’t take care of this, your sunflowers will grow too close to each other and won’t be able to reach their maximum height.
As the name ‘sunflower’ already indicates, sunflowers require full sun. That means no less than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Your chosen location has to be well-drained. Prepare it by digging a spot that would be 2 feet deep with a circumference of 2-3 feet. Keep in mind that sunflowers are very needy; they are heavy feeders so they might deplete your soil quite rapidly. To avoid this you should consider replenishing some additional nutrient supply. You can go both chemical way (fertilizers) and organic way (compost).
As for the seed varieties available for growing in the U.K. the choice might overwhelm you. Think through what sort of sunflowers you would like to have: how high, what colour, with edible/non-edible seeds, how large heads and so on and so on. Once have made up your mind, it will be a lot easier for you to make the decision and pick the variety that matches your garden the best. Here are some of the options available out there:
- Sunflower Solar Flash. This is an early flowering little sunflower which does not require too much space but produces amazing bi-colour petals. It blooms for comparatively long period.
- Sunflower Giant Single, Sunflower American Giant. The best choice if you are in a competition for growing the largest sunflowers.
- Velvet Queen. Want to go for something a bit unusual, extraordinary and bright? Then Velvet Queen should be turned into the queen of your green kingdom. Superb variety for cut-flowers.
- Sunflower Prado Gold. A golden yellow multi-flowering sunflower. It gives around 5-15 flower stems per plant. Available for harvesting when the main stem is pinched at the 5th set of leaves.
- Sunflower Sunrich Lemon. One of the best options if you want cut flower, medium-size, bright yellow with dark middle – will surely be a good addition to your home interior.
Sunflowers are ready to be harvested when their petals are dry and start falling out. The base of the head which initially was green should look yellow or even brown around this time. The seeds themselves will be plump and either fully black or black with white stripes.
What you do after you are ready to harvest the seeds, is up to you. You can cut the head once the seeds are fully ripen and then simply rub them out of it. You can also cut the head a bit earlier (when around 2/3 of the seeds are ripen). Wrap a paper bag around it and hang it in well-ventilated and warm spot. Most of the seeds will fall out from the head this way.