Sunflower seeds can be harvested toward the end of the growing season. Store-bought seeds are available as healthy snacks or bird feeds. But which seeds can be used to grow sunflowers? We have researched the matter and here’s what we’ve found.
Sunflowers can be grown from mature seeds harvested after the flowering season. However, it is better to opt for cultivated pre-packed seeds available in gardening or agricultural stores.
You can select the seed variety you prefer. Sunflowers can't be grown from store-bought edible seeds since they have been roasted and salted, and the heat kills the plant embryo.
Read on and find out more about sunflower seeds, the germination process, proper planting and care, and factors to consider if you intend to grow them in containers.
Sunflower Seed Germination
Germination refers to the sprouting of a seed after being exposed to water, light, soil nutrients, and oxygen. The process may be accelerated by wrapping the seeds in damp paper towels or moist cloth prior to planting.
Keep the wrapped seeds in a paper bag and check occasionally if they have germinated, and moisten the wrapper if it begins to dry up. Typically, the sprouts will appear after 24 hours, but some varieties can take 48 hours to emerge.
Planting Sunflower Sprouts
Once the sprouts appear, you can plant the seeds directly into the garden after you have chosen an optimal spot and amended the soil.
How Far Apart To Space Sunflower Seedlings?
Pick a well-sunlit location in your garden or yard and plan the layout of the number of seeds and rows based on the area. Till the topsoil and mix compost made of dried leaves, fine wood chips, and a small quantity of inorganic matter to improve the drainage.
Sunflowers vary greatly in height when matured, and some species reach 14 feet while smaller varieties top off at around four feet. The specific cultivar of your sunflower would determine the depth as well as the spacing of the seeds. It is best to consult the packet for their characteristics.
For taller varieties such as Titan, Mammoth, and Sunzilla, sow the seeds about two inches deep into the soil and allow at least 12 inches of growing area between each pod. This will allow sunlight to penetrate the entire stalk of the plant even when fully grown.
Once the seeds are in place, cover them with soil without compacting the dirt. This would allow water and oxygen to move freely within the sub ground environment.
Once the initial batch begins to develop, you can plant new seeds every 10 days to experience a continuous cycle of blooms. Remove the leaves from the lower end of the stems of the first group of sunflowers to make room for the new growth.
You can also thin out the poorly developed plants to avoid crowding and competition for nutrients. This will result in healthier and larger flowers.
Although sunflowers can thrive in several environments, it is still ideal to provide the plant with proper growing conditions to promote lush growth and blooms or flowers.
Do Sunflowers Need Full Sun?
Sunflowers prefer full light exposure – at least six to eight hours per day. It is interesting to note that they actually turn in the direction of the sun throughout the day. Plant them in open sunny areas and it may be necessary to stake tall varieties to protect them from strong winds.
What Soil Is Best For Sunflowers?
Sunflower roots grow deep into the ground, as such, they require a loose and well-draining growing medium to support their root system. Make sure the environment is slightly acidic with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5.
Soil temperature is also vital for growth and development, so plant them when the soil can be worked with.
If you have already added compost and other organic matter onto the ground or potting mix, feeding the plant with fertilizers is not necessary. The growing medium already contains enough nutrients to facilitate the plant’s growth.
Additionally, amend the environment if the soil is too compact. You may add peat moss, compost, coconut fibers, leaves, grass clippings, and straws to create an appropriate growing environment.
How Much Water Do Sunflowers Need?
Proper hydration is necessary to promote germination. Remember to always keep the soil moist but never wet, especially before the sprouts begin to emerge from the ground. Provide the plant with light watering to keep the growing medium constantly damp.
After germination and early development, keep the soil moist but taper hydration when the stems reach maturity.
Fully-grown sunflowers require thorough watering once a week. However, increase the intervals during long dry spells, particularly when the soil feels dry.
When Should You Thin Sunflower Seedlings?
During early development, prune or thin the stems until adequate spacing is achieved. This way, the plants will have a larger growing area.
Thinning the plant when they reach 3 inches high is necessary to promote better air circulation, sunlight penetration, and better blooms. Pick smaller and thinner stems since they are considered as the weakest plant part.
Do Sunflowers Attract Bugs?
Although sunflowers are prone to insect infestations, the damage is usually minimal. Note that sunflowers rely heavily on pollinators to propagate.
If the plant is severely infected, it is suggested to apply pesticides with the right formulas to somehow prevent killing the vectors. Emulsifiable concentrates and solutions are the ideal substances to use.
You can apply the pesticides in the evening since most pollinators forage pollens during the daytime.
Is It Possible To Grow Sunflowers In Pots?
It is possible to grow sunflowers in pots, however, there are certain factors that have to be considered: the plant variety, containers, and the growing medium.
When selecting the appropriate plant variety, consider the height of the stem and its root system since they determine the appropriate depth and spacing the plant requires.
Large varieties tend to grow 10 to 18 feet tall and have roots that go at least six feet deep into the ground. That being said, these cultivars are not recommended for container planting since they require a larger growing area.
Dwarf sunflower species produce gorgeous flowers and are the ideal varieties to plant in containers or planters simply because they only reach one to three feet in height. They can be easily grown as long as they are given the proper growing conditions.
Double Dandy, Elf, Firecracker, Junior, and Sunbright Supreme, to name a few, are some cultivars you can plant in your garden.
Dwarf sunflower varieties should be planted in one or two-gallon containers or planters with a depth of at least six to eight inches and a diameter of 10 inches. This way, the cultivar has adequate space for growing. Make sure that the pots drain well to prevent water logging.
An appropriate potting mix should include a balanced combination of organic and inorganic matter, such as peat moss, compost, perlite, shredded coconut husks, and wood chips. Most store-bought potting soil is composed of these materials.
The inorganic composition will keep the soil loose and well-draining, while the organic portion will provide the plant with nutrients needed for growth and development.
Can Sunflower Be Grown From Bird Seed?
Sunflowers acquired from bird seeds can germinate and grow given the proper development conditions. The product contains an embryo that has the potential to mature since it did not undergo the roasting and salting process that can otherwise kill it.
Bird seeds are a combination of corn, fruit, and sunflower seeds. Inasmuch as it is possible to plant and develop them into sunflowers, you will have no idea of what variety to expect.
Sunflower seeds purchased from garden stores and nurseries are the kind that germinate, grow, and mature. Store-brought grocery seeds contain dead embryos, so they cannot be used to grow sunflowers. We hope the article has answered your queries and helped you with the proper ways to grow sunflowers.
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