What is the best place to plant a sunflower? Spring is here, and with it, the desire to fill your garden with colorful blooms. Of all the garden blooms out there, the sunflower is perhaps one of the best-loved of them all. Choosing a location can be challenging due to its stature. We have researched this topic to find out the best place to plant these beautiful plants, so they thrive!
Sunflowers can be planted in a variety of places as long as they have warmth and the sun. You can grow them in containers, sow them in garden rows, or place them in a perennial garden.
Let's take a look at some perfect spots for sunflowers. While we're at, we'll explore some other frequently asked questions about growing this happy blossom.
The Best Places To Grow Sunflowers
Sunflowers may be grown in a variety of settings. From containers to fields to perennial gardens, there's a variety that will suit the environment. But what do sunflowers need, and how do you go about it?
Should You Plant Sunflowers Outside Or Indoors?
The great news is there's no 'should' for this answer. You can plant sunflowers inside or outside. We have a great post here (Can You Grow Sunflowers Indoors? [Yes! And Here's How To!]) with all the details on how to plant sunflowers indoors. The main thing to remember is to get the right variety. You can try, of course, to grow the large variety indoors, but that will be more challenging than choosing a dwarf type like Sunny Smile or Teddy Bear Sunflowers.
Sunny Smile Sunflowers are a dwarf variety that only grows from 6"-20" tall and produces blooms that are 2-5" in diameter. It's a perfect choice for an indoor or outdoor container garden.
Dwarf Sungold (Teddy Bear Variety) Sunflowers are another super choice for indoors or container gardens. This dwarf variety grows between 24" to 36" inches in height and produces several 4" fluffy blooms. They are reminiscent of pompons or the fuzzy nose of a favorite stuffed bear in flower.
Should You Plant Sunflowers In The Shade Or Sun?
Sunflowers are named such not only because they resemble the sun, but because they love the sun as well. Typically they won't do well in an area that doesn't get some full sun every day and do best when they receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
However, one variety, Helianthus Divericatus, is a woodland sunflower that can be grown in the shade. It is a lovely plant with dozens of daisy-like yellow blooms on delicate stalks. You can find it for sale at many nurseries that specialize in native woodland plants.
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But for all others, especially the popular mammoth sunflowers, make sure you've got a gorgeous sun-lit spot for your blooms.
How Much Space Do Sunflowers Need?
Again, much depends on the type of sunflower. If you're growing mammoth sunflowers, you want a reasonably large space. Perhaps you've seen the photos of vast fields of the sunny giants?
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These fields are grown much like any other agricultural crop in neatly furrowed rows. Many home gardeners will mix sunflowers into the edges of their vegetable gardens to provide a happy border or to provide interest for pollinators and perhaps distract the birds from the fruits and vegetables with sunflower seeds. The big sunflower varieties will grow up to 12' in height and have a fair amount of width. So when your seedlings get to be about 3" in height, you'll want to thin them out, so the plants are about 2' apart. Choose your robust seedlings to keep.
Space Needed For Perennial Varieties
There are a few perennial varieties of sunflowers that grow quite mounded and shrub-like. You need to think about not only the height of these plants and how that fits into the overall scheme of your garden but also their diameter. Do not plant other perennials too closely so that sunflowers have room to spread and grow.
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Tuscan Sun is one such variety. As you can see, it forms a rounded shrub that produces a sunny wealth of delicate flowers. It grows to about 3' high and about 3' in diameter, so when you plant it, you'll need to make sure to leave enough space around it.
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Maximillian is another popular variety of perennial sunflowers. It's a yearly attraction for birds, butterflies, bees, and other wildlife. It does well towards the rear of a perennial garden as it gets quite tall at a substantial 6-8'. As for width, this shrub will spread to about 4' in diameter, so keep that in mind when planting.
Space Needed For Container Sunflowers
As we mentioned above, there are varieties explicitly made for growing in containers. The type of variety you want to grow in containers will determine the size of the pot that you need. We have a post here on growing sunflowers in pots that will fill you in with greater depth, Can You Grow Sunflowers In A Pot? , but the quick answer is to use a pot anywhere from 2-gallon capacity to 5-gallon capacity.
Can Sunflowers Be Transplanted?
Perhaps you've overplanted seeds, but you don't want to trash the seedlings coming up in groups. Or maybe you've decided on a new spot to add some cheery flowers. No worries, sunflowers can be transplanted easily. With seedlings, you'll want to be careful as the young plants can be less hardy, and you don't want to break them.
With older plants, be sure to give the roots a wide berth and dig straight down and not at an angle to avoid cutting into the root structure. Then dig a hole large enough for them to stretch out and grow in their new location. Water them well and make sure they have support if it's needed.
Do Sunflowers Follow The Sun?
Perhaps you've heard that sunflowers will turn their heads toward the sun. But is this fact or fiction? According to this article from Smithsonian Magazine, it's true. Sunflowers will turn their head to follow the sun throughout the day and overnight rotate back to the east to greet the morning. According to the article, the researchers found that during the day, genes click on causing the east-facing half of the stem to grow. The lengthening stem causes the flower head to bend to the west during the day slowly. At night, genes that cause the west side of the stem to grow activate, causing the head to flip back to the east."
What Do Sunflowers Do At Night?
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Rumor has it that sunflowers have a wild party and invite all of the woodland creatures. That's fiction, but it would be fun to see. In reality, as mentioned in the article cited above, at night, they turn their heads back toward the east in preparation of greeting the next day's sun.
Do Sunflowers Really Turn Towards Each Other?
This, sadly, is fiction. At some point, a rumor started circulating that on cloudy days, sunflowers would face each other to conserve and share energy. In reality, they follow the sun until maturity, they are content to stand tall and soak it in. It is a lovely sentiment, however.
We hope you now see that sunflowers, as long as they have sun, can be grown anywhere. We've mentioned a few other helpful articles in the body of this post, but we have a few others about sunflowers here at GardenTabs.com. If you'd like to check them out, please click below: