Growing Sunflowers the Right Way

Sunflowers can spread as far as the eye can see when it comes to a sunflower field, and the plant itself is strong as possible. Plus, 2021 has been deemed the Year of the Sunflower! The official name is Helianthus annuus and yellow is not the only color sunflower petals come in, red, maroon, and brown. Another interesting aspect to note is that sunflowers can move, they are heliotropic. This means the sunflower head with the seeds and petals can physically turn to face the sun head-on.

As you could imagine, sunflowers grow best when they have direct sunlight. While some shade is okay, these strong flowers can use up to 8 hours of sunlight to help them grow to their full potential. Now, it’s assumed that you could sprinkle out sunflower seeds, and BAM! There is a group of sunflowers growing in your yard. Or better yet, that every sunflower you see is from the same species, which is not correct. There are many varieties of sunflowers, small, color, shape, and one’s that have pollen or without.

Photo by Peggy Sue Zinn on Unsplash

Between different species that produce a different color within the petals, what else is needed:

How to Grow Sunflowers

Wait for the frost to pass, that means waiting until the middle/end of April. Solely because random freezing frost can happen throughout March – Early April. Or wait until the temperatures stay above 10 Celsius or 50 Fahrenheit.

Sunflowers dislike having their roots disturbed, which is why we recommend direct-sowing instead of transplanting. Looking for a location with well-draining soil, as it shouldn’t pool water after it rains. Be sure to test the ground for a slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline pH balance. Included with the pH balance, these flowers are heavy feeders, the more nutrient-rich soil, the better the outcome. The best way to create nutrient-rich soil is to dig between 4-6-8 inches into the ground and mix the soil with fertilizer or aged compost.

Make sure that the soil has a deep registering surface since sunflowers have roots that will grow downward for a few feet. The land/soil you choose needs to be rich in nutrients and enough space to where only sunflowers can take over that specific area. Below is solely a field dedicated to growing sunflowers, and you’ll be able to know if an area is capable of holding these gargantuan flowers if there’s no wilting (dry/non-dense soil) or uprooting (swallow soil). Below is how spectacular your sunflower garden should look.

Photo by Samantha Kennedy on Unsplash

Storm Areas

Since anyone can spot a sunflower from a yard away, this tall 12-inch diameter flower head, plus the 6-foot stalk base, unfortunately, cannot hold up against straight wind storms. If planted in a high wind area, plant these top-heavy flowers either next to a fence or some sort of wind block.

Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev from Pexels

Planting

Sunflowers should be planted 1 to 1-½ inches deep and about 6 inches apart after the soil has thoroughly warmed. If you wish, you can plant multiple seeds and thin them to the strongest contenders when the plants are six inches tall. Experiment with plantings staggered over 5 to 6 weeks to keep enjoying continuous blooms. If you see birds scratching around for the seeds, spread netting over the planted area until seeds germinate.

Photo by João Jesus from Pexels

The recommended dimensions on how to plant sunflower seeds:

Press the seeds into the soil 1 to 1-½ inches deep and about 6 inches apart. If you make rows, spread them apart 30 inches or more. A light application of fertilizer mixed in at planting time will encourage strong root growth. Experiment with plantings staggered over 5 to 6 weeks to keep enjoying continuous blooms. You can plant multiple seeds and thin them to the strongest contenders when the plants are six inches tall. 

Photo by Binyamin Mellish from Pexels

There are a number of YouTube instructional videos available to gain a visual representation of what you have to do to plant sunflowers. Pros will be able to eyeball the 30 inch distance between rows and the general rule of thumb seed depth to plant these flowers. But don’t fret if you’re not their yet, small sunflower sizes are available to gain a better handle on how to care for sunflowers. Then you can progressively gain more insight to build up towards full range 6 foot tall sunflower stalks.

Spring Gardening for Beginners

Spring is here even as it snows in certain areas around the globe, specifically the United States. But there are specific key points to address. Firstly, there is a difference between flower gardening and vegetable gardening. The two are extremely different especially when it comes to regulating temperature, which species can survive through a random morning frost and which ones cannot.  

Photo by Neslihan Gunaydin on Unsplash

The Biggest and First Step to Gardening 

Figuring out what type of flower species or vegetable/fruit plant you’d like to plant. Now for a beginner it’s very highly recommended on choosing a flower plant that can be first started as a seedling to be planted in a planters pot and kept in a regulated temperature home. The temperature variety acceptable for the plant will be printed on the back of the paper, in which the seeds come in. With an added step being, location, location, location. Locating where an area has full sun, afternoon, or morning sun in vitally important. Typically both plants and vegetables require 5 hours of full sun per day. But, knowing that if you live in the northern part of the United States, morning sun is best. While in the southern part of the United States, afternoon to evening sun is the best time.

Photo by Camille Mollier on Unsplash
Photo by Camille Mollier on Unsplash

Do Not Do This

Like the photo above, bees are essential to a healthy ecosystem. Let those little cute bumblebees go from flower to flower, do not swat at them. You need them for your garden, which means no pesticides whatsoever. Try organic solutions to a pest problem, but do not use chemicals as this can kill off your plants and ecosystem.

Any pollinators will help your garden flourish and even help cross pollinate different flowers which can cause some incredible and mysterious new species of flowers.

If You’re a Gardener but It’s Your First Winter

You created and laid out your new garden last Spring and now Winter has come and gone, what do you do to check and see if everything is okay? Did you set up any type of fencing around the area? How are the plants themselves that you’ve covered to ensure they would not receive contact with snow or frost? Or have new animals moved into the area? These are the question you will need to ask, to ensure that your garden stays stable and keeps growing.

Photo by Munro Studio on Unsplash
Photo by Munro Studio on Unsplash

An important task is too see if a fence has bowed, split, or weathered heavily. This can cause animals to tear down or simply walk into the garden.

 Photo by Georgi Petrov from Pexels
Photo by Georgi Petrov from Pexels

How heavy was the snowfall that Winter, do your plants look damaged or do they have ice damage? Mostly plants can be revived from frost damage but if it’s severe, you will loose the plant.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Have you spotted new animals prints in the soil, or have you noticed your plants seem to have a bite taken out of them? Rabbits will eat broccoli, beans, and lettuce. Be sure to keep an eye on your lettuce since this is the most likely vegetable a rabbit will go after.

Invest in Ordinary Garden Tools

Do not go for the outlandish and extreme gardening tools because they look pretty. Go for the most basic looking gardening tools, here is a beginners batch:

Spade

Photo by Gary Barnes from Pexels

Gloves

Photo by Mari Potter on Unsplash

Sheers

Image by Thanks for your Like • donations welcome from Pixabay

Garden Fork

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Rake/Hoe

Photo by Ronaldo de Oliveira on Unsplash
Image by TootSweetCarole from Pixabay

Towel

Photo by Enric Cruz López from Pexels

Watering Can

Image by ❤️A life without animals is not worth living❤️ from Pixabay

Wheelbarrow

Image by Birgit Böllinger from Pixabay

These items are essential from professional to beginner on all levels, you will be needing these and most likely replacing a few of them after a while.

Test Your Soil

Since you’re new to the game, a pro gardener tests their soil about every 3 years. This testing can show what nutrients or organic materials it needs and which it has too much of. If there is a high number of phosphorous going on, that means do not add fertilizers that contain a lot of that nutrient. To gain more insight into testing your soil, just visit your local garden or greenhouse shop. They can point you in the right direction.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.

Alfred Austin (30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913)

Begin Transplanting

The time has come to utilize those biodegradable planters you’ve planted your seedlings in. Now those biodegradable pots do not need to be completely destroyed while planting. Instead ripping edges does allow the plant to get use to the new soil. We’ve all have heard of transplanting shock, but doing it this way with a biodegradable planter helps wonders. Also the biodegradable planter anymore has nutrients packed into it to allow the plant to feed and thrive off of it.

This guide aims to helps those struggling with knowing what tools to buy and what type of planters to use while holding your seedlings.

Saving Your Plants From a Late Winter

It has become very well apparent that Winter is not letting up for this year in 2021. As harsh as it may seem, a lot of plants will be affected since some farmers and individuals plant around the beginning of April. Yet, here we are on April 20th, dealing with freezing temperatures and at least a few centimeters of snow on the ground.

So the big question, if your plant is not a planter’s pot but instead embedded in the ground… is there a way or a system to prevent losing that plant?

Even the smallest amount of frost can cause a plant to die. But we want to provide a few steps that can at least stimulate your plant long enough to survive a harsh or long-lasting Winter season.

Mulch

Mulch can protect that top layer of soil, so a plant’s roots are not receiving a massive amount of “shock-freeze.” A 5-inch layer of mulch can cause a barrier between a frost ground upheaval, which can happen from course wind that disturbs and removes the top layer of soil. Which can then cause plant roots to show, be aware of soil heaving because this can happen. Which allows the frost to have contact with the root itself.

Take Your Potted Plants Inside

That’s right! If you have potted plants outside, bring them inside to a spot in your home that does not have a severe temperature difference. You can create a warm environment by changing your thermostat to a temperature in the Spring/Summer where the plants thrive. Be sure to check which plants can handle the striking Winter sun. Sometimes the Winter sun is too bright and harsh for plants.

Warming Up Rose Bushes

Use some new soil to build up around the base of the rose bush. You will need at least a foot high to 18 inches high to protect the crown of the rose bush. This mound of soil should very much protect your prize winning or soon to be prize winning rose bush.

Zones

Understanding what zone you live in because in the United States there are different labeled zones. Each zone has information on the seasons and what areas are hit harder with the treacherous winter weather. Seasoned and experienced gardeners know all about what their zone has to offer, talk to someone in the area who is known as a renowned gardener.

Fruit & Vegetables Crops

Vegetable and fruit crops definitely feel the damage from a heavy or even a little frost. Fruits tend to need a constant 55 degree (12 Celsius) or above temperature. Most fruit and vegetable plants cannot withstand harsh cold weather, especially peppers and tomatoes.

What Works

Finding what works, honestly, can take a bit of time. If you’re new to gardening, it’s best to start with seedlings inside your home under a grow lamp. And water with only the suggested amount per day or week. By starting your food-based plants or tropical-based plants inside you’ll have a much better chance at keeping them throughout the season and year. Be aware that some plants can go into temporary shock when they are transplanted from pot to ground. Some will wilt and some will flourish, but water as directed, and keep an eye on the weather to make sure your plants thrive.

For Healthy Plants, Avoid the Most Common Mistakes

We all (does anybody disagree?) like having plants in our homes. Maybe because they bring color to the house, because they complete the design, improve the air quality or perhaps you are a huge nature lover. One thing is for sure: plants bring joy. Except… for the moment when you them drying or having yellow leaves or go limp. That moment is heart-breaking.

So let’s review the most common mistakes people make with indoor plants.

  1. Not knowing what you buy

It’s a must to buy plants with labels. If you don’t know the name and core instructions of a plant, you don’t give it any chance to survive.

  • Not giving the plants the light and sun they need

Do not forget each plant needs specific environmental conditions. Putting a plant where you think it looks good, without taking into consideration how much sun and light it needs is a big mistake. If you put it into direct sunlight, it probably won’t survive. If you put it in a place where sunbeams don’t reach with their life-giving magic, your plant’s life is again in danger.

  • Putting them in the wrong place

Like the radiator, for example. Yes, it is recommended for most plants to be next to the window, but find a way to do it wisely. If you have a radiator nearby, the constant heat will dry your plant.

  • Too much water or too little water

As I was saying earlier, you need to know what each plant needs.

While cacti and succulent plant prefer dry soil (they need water every 2-3 weeks even 4 weeks), flower plants need to be watered more often (every 2 days or 4-5 days, depending on the environmental conditions and type of plant). So read the instructions carefully and take care of the plant accordingly. Please see more about growing essentials here.

  • Not checking the roots

So you bring the plant home and you move it to the proper pot with the proper soil. For the next few months, all you need to do is water it and groom it. See more about maintenance here. But do not forget to check the roots, as they are constantly growing and might not have enough space in the pot. If this happens and you do not move the plant to a bigger pot, the root dies and then the leaves fall ill. Of course, take care to move the plant in its recommended period – usually in autumn or spring, but each plant is different.

Here are basics of growing garlic in containers in your home

Garlic is one the essential spices that the majority of us use to add another level of taste to our dishes. The vegetable belongs to the Allium family, which also contains onions and shallots. The bulbs are the most powerfully flavored, but the green parts are also edible.

While garlic is widely available at any grocery store, more and more people are growing open to the idea of growing their own crop of garlic at home.

The good news, you don’t necessarily need to have a garden to do so, as garlic can grow in containers indoors. And you’ll never, ever have to worry about vampires again.

Yet, growing garlic requires a bit of effort. And the right container. That’s right, you need to make sure you get one that’s at least 18-inches deep and comes with holes drilled at the bottom for excellent drainage.

Keep in mind that garlic is prone to developing fungal root disease. So on top of opting for a pot with drainage holes, you need to pick a soil that drains well too. Don’t use regular garden soil in your pots. Instead get a high-quality soil-less potting mix from your gardening store.

Another thing to worry about is finding a proper spot to place the pot around the apartment. Keep in mind that garlic plants need at least 6 hours of bright sunlight per day.

When grown under the right conditions, garlic can grow to maturity in nine months. The best time of the year to plant your garlic is in the fall, typically before the first frost.

Of course, timing will vary with local climate. However, you need to give your plant 6 to 8 weeks to develop good roots, but not enough time for it to form top growth.

To start planting, simply take a bulb and peel the skin off. Separate the cloves and insert them into holes you’ve dug 2-inches deep and about 6-inches apart. Next, fill your container with potting soil about 3-inches at the top of your container. If the potting soil you’ve purchased doesn’t include one, you might want to mix in a slow-release (organic) fertilizer.

It’s advised that you don’t try and plant cloves you purchased from the local supermarket, as most are treated to prologue shelf life. This means it’s harder to grow new plants from them. Instead turn to your local nursey or simply purchase seeds from the local gardening shop. You can also order garlic plants off the internet.

Garlic doesn’t have to be watered every day, but it’s important you don’t leave the soil to get dry. Just stick your finger 1-inch below the surface. If it’s dry, then it’s time to water your plant.

Garlic comes in many varieties including hardneck, softneck and green garlic. The softneck type brings the more intense flavor and it tends to grow bigger bulbs. It’s perfect for those who live in warmer climates.