Sunflower seeds Instructions

PLANTING

WHEN TO PLANT SUNFLOWERS

  • It’s best to sow sunflower seeds directly into the garden (or outdoor containers) after the danger of spring frost has passed anytime after soils have warmed to 50°F.
  • In most regions, this will fall between April and mid-July. In the south, this will probably occur in mid-March or early April. 

CHOOSING & PREPARING A PLANTING SITE

  • Find a sunny spot! Sunflowers grow best in locations with direct sunlight (6 to 8 hours per day); they require long, hot summers to flower well.
  • Choose a location with well-draining soil. It shouldn’t pool water after it rains.
  • Sunflowers aren’t picky but the soil can’t be too compact. They have long tap roots that need to stretch out; in preparing a bed, dig down 2 feet in depth and about 3 feet across.
  • They’re not too fussy when it comes to soil pH either. Sunflowers thrive in slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline soil (pH 6.0 to 7.5).
  • Sunflowers are heavy feeders, so the soil needs to be nutrient-rich with organic matter or composted (aged) manure. Or, work in a slow release granular fertilizer 8 inches deep into your soil.
  • If possible, plant sunflowers in a spot that is sheltered from strong winds, perhaps along a fence or near a building. Larger varieties may become top-heavy and a strong wind can be devastating.
  • Before planting, decide whether or not you want to grow a fun sunflower tower.

PLANTING SUNFLOWER SEEDS

  • 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. 
  • Give plants plenty of room, especially for low-growing varieties that will branch out. Make rows about 30 inches apart. (For very small varieties, plant closer together.)
  • A light application of fertilizer mixed in at planting time will encourage strong root growth to protect them from blowing over in the wind.
  • 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.