Congratulations on your interest in growing sunflowers! The sunflower is one of the most widely recognized flowers of all time. It emits a sense of warmth and joy. This large flower blooms in a wide variety of yellows, pinks, and even reds. With a little care you will be rewarded by the most noble of garden beauties. Ask anyone who has grown them and their eyes will light up with excitement. The many varieties have something to offer gardeners of any age regardless of space limitations. So let’s get busy and you will have a garden to be proud of in no time.
Selecting a Growing Location
Your first must decide on where you want to grow your sunflowers. Consider the following:
- Sun and Wind Exposure – As the name implies, sunflowers like the sun and do best when in a sunny location. A general guideline is to pick a spot that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. If planted in a shady area, sunflowers may stretch to reach sun and thus will require additional staking support as they will if planted in a windy area. Tall varieties are often planted on a fence line to help with support.
- Orientation to Other Plants – Particularly with the taller varieties of sunflowers you will want to consider how they may block sun and wind from your other garden plants. This can be a good thing if you are trying to shelter particular garden plants from too much sun or wind, but you must also consider if your sunflowers are going to negatively impact your other sun loving plants when selecting the best spot for your new friends. Some people feel close to sunflowers because they are at eye level and bend to look you in the face. Sunflowers will face east at maturity so this may also be a factor you want to consider in their placement.
- Days to Maturity – Most sunflower varieties have a maturity between 75 and 110 days. The nice thing is that you can grow them from the last freeze until winter sets in again. Consider planting a few each week to insure staggered blooms and enjoyment throughout the growing season. Stop planting 75-100 days before the first winter freeze is expected in your location.
- Annual or Perennial Varieties – By far, most people plant annual sunflowers, but if you only plant annuals you are missing out on some beautiful long term friends. Perennials may take one to three seasons to begin producing blooms, but they are well worth the wait and can be great producers of flowers for years to come.