Overview: Known as one of the easiest plants to grow, Sunflowers come in a variety of colors, and can be used in bouquets as decor or harvested for their seeds as a tasty snack. 

Seed Starting: Sunflowers prefer warm sandy soil and a sunny location. It is best to sow them directly in your garden but they can also grow well in outdoor containers. Regular varieties prefer a soil depth of around 1 to 1 ½ inches deep spaced about six inches apart,  (source: Farmer’s Almanac) (If planting multiple seeds make rows 30 inches apart from one another)  Thin sunflowers to the strongest ones once they’ve hit about 6 inches tall. Due to their large stems, if planting larger varieties of sunflowers it is recommended to plant them in an area sheltered from winds as their heads make them top-heavy and susceptible to blowing over, damaging their stems. 

Growing Tips: A small amount of fertilizer mixed in with the soil at the time of planting will help encourage strong root growth which will help support stems.  It is best to plant sunflowers after spring frost has passed, which means if you live in New England, could mean anywhere from April to mid-June.

Harvesting Flowers for bouquets:  Cut the main stem of the flower just before the bud opens. Cut stems early in the morning to avoid wilting. Handle flowers gently and keep them in a tall container, changing the water every day to keep them fresh. In floral arrangements,  roses, snapdragons, chrysanthemums, and irises pair well with sunflowers. 

Harvesting Seeds: Let the flowers dry on or off the stem until the back of the head turns brown and the leaves turn yellow, the petals die and the seeds look large and loose. Using sharp scissors or gardening pruners, cut off the head of the plant leaving about 6 inches, and place the head in a container to catch seeds. Lie the flower head on a clean flat surface, to remove the seeds, run your hand over the area you’re trying to remove, and pull seeds  off the plant. 

Post writen by Haley Dufton