The secrets to growing great sunflowers

Shutterstock.com/ Issarawat Tattong

One of the most beautiful additions to any garden is a sunflower. This tall beauty stands out among any garden and if planned properly can be the finishing touch to make your garden stunning to all who pass by. A sunflower is far more than aesthetics though. It is a versatile flower that offers huge benefits to the owner.

Sunflowers come in a number of varieties and before you plant you must know what you are planting. Some will grow as tall as 15 feet and if not planned for properly can block sunlight to other flowers or become too dominant in your garden. Others are dwarf varieties that only grow to be one foot tall. If you purchase them by accident and place them where you would want a 15-foot flower, you will be a little disappointed. The most common variety though will grow to a height of about five to eight feet tall and will have a flower that spans eight to ten inches. 

What variety you choose will impact where you place your sunflower and how you use it in your garden design. A tall sunflower can be used as a great privacy screen at the wall of a garden. Medium-sized sunflowers are still useful windbreakers for other flower varieties and can be used to support other flowers in the garden.

The key to success with growing your sunflowers is in the name. To see the best of your sunflower you need to maximize their sun exposure. Because sunflowers can grow to be very tall it is best if you put them on the north side of your garden so that they don’t stop smaller flowers from benefiting from a little sunshine. The good news is that apart from their need for sun, the sunflower is not a fussy plant. The seedlings are cold-resistant so if you only have a short sun season you can plant them before the last frost and still have success. However, if possible it is best to wait for the warm weather to come to give them the best chance of growing. 

Ensure that you space out your sunflowers wide enough that they have plenty of room to grow. We recommend dwarf or medium flowers to be at least one foot apart and larger varieties should be given a little more space, maybe one and a half feet. 

Sunflowers will grow best if watered regularly. If you can add a layer of mulch to the topsoil it will allow them to conserve even more moisture and ensure they are well hydrated and have the best chance at growing strongly. Apart from that sunflowers are pretty trouble-free and are a great project to give a young child to get them interested in the garden and have them reap some beautiful rewards. 

As already mentioned the rewards that sunflowers bring don’t stop at their beauty. They produce many seeds and these can be used as great treats for birds or as cooking ingredients. Roasted sunflower seeds are a great snack throughout the day and a fantastic ingredient in pesto, salads, and granola. To roast your seeds soak them overnight, drain and then spread them over some parchment paper. Pop them in the oven at around 90 degrees Celsius for three hours or until they start to look a delicious level of crispy. The oil from sunflowers is also fantastic. It is reported to have many benefits for the skin and can be found in numerous beauty products. 

Sunflowers will work in nearly every garden as they are not picky about soil quality and are strong enough to grow in some tough conditions. They look beautiful and add something to any garden. So, what are you waiting for?