How to grow sunflowers
Here are some tips for planting and growing sunflowers.
Decide which variation you'd like to plant
The traditional tall, yellow sunflower is a gorgeous addition to any garden. But you can also find several other colors, from pale yellow to bright orange, or red and maroon. There are single and double blooms, and sunflowers with single and multiple heads. You can get miniature sunflowers, or giant sunflowers that can grow to 4.5 metres tall.
Consider the size and color of the flowers you choose
Plant large sunflower varieties in rows or in mass planting to create a background for your garden. Plant small varieties in edges and in the foreground of your garden bed.
Pick a sunny spot
Sunflowers need 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Prepare the soil
Dig the soil to a depth of 20 - 30 cms and till thoroughly. Mix in organic matter, then rake the area smooth. Remove any rocks and garden debris.
Plant the seeds properly
In general, you should plant sunflower seeds ½-inch deep. Read the instructions on the seed packets to confirm seed depth and spacing for the variety you are planting. Cover the seeds with soil, tamp them down by hand, and water them thoroughly.
Secure them properly
If you have tall sunflowers, place strong garden stakes into the ground next to the plants when they're young. As the plants grow, use pieces of panty hose to secure them to the stakes so they can stay upright in wind and rain.
Give them some TLC
Water the plants daily until they are 20 - 30 cms tall. Once they are 30 cms, mulch the plants heavily to retain moisture and to prevent future weeding. If you notice mildew on the plants, spray them with a garden fungicide.
Harvest the seeds and flowers
You'll know the seeds are ready for harvest when the bracts begin to dry. Hang the heads upside down until they're fully dry in a place that's safe from birds and animals. If you want to use the flowers in indoor bouquets, cut the main stem early in the morning before its flower bud fully opens to encourage side blooms. Arrange the sunflowers in tall containers and water them daily.