Growing Sunflowers the Right Way

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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


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.

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