Sunflowers

Sunflowers:

 

  • Why you should grow it
    • Sunflowers provided shade for cooler crops in the summer, especially during the summer heat
    • Seeds are an important food source for animals and birds in the fall
    • They attract beneficial insects through the growing season
    • Improves soil conditions by removing metals

 

 

  • How to start seeds
    • Sow directly into the soil
    • Start indoors in the spring and transplant out when they are about 6″ tall
    • They will cause shade so placement is important

 

 

 

  • Tips for growth
      • Plant when all risk of frost is gone, sunflowers will not germinate in the cold
      • Ensure that you choose a sunny spot
      • Water deeply and infrequently to develop deep roots as the plant grows tall and needs a strong foundation
      • These deep roots will be more drought tolerant
      • They are fast-growing and need good nutrient soil, add a little compost before planting them out
      • If they start to lean, stake the flowers 
      • They are mostly disease-free but make sure you water the ground and not the plant

     

 

 

  • Harvesting
    • Harvest sunflower seeds at the end of the season
    • Leave the seeds on the flower until the seeds are dark and plump
    • Once the petals wilt and before the animals get to them, cut off the flower and hang upside down in a bag
    • Rub off the seeds and soak overnight then bake with salt if you like

 

 

 

  • Saving Seeds
    • There are many things you can do with sunflowers at the end of the season
    • Save the seeds by harvesting them, rinsing them off and drying fully before storing in a bag
    • Leave the sunflower seeds on the flower for birds and animals to eat through the fall, it is an important food source for the local populations
    • If you harvest the flower, leave the stalk in the garden for beneficial insects to hibernate over the winter
    • The stalks also provide interest in the garden when all other foliage in gone in the garden