Sunflowers have become an essential part of our garden every year and we’ve learned a few methods for making them super easy to grow successfully. Here are our tips for growing sunflower seeds!
We decided to grow sunflowers in our garden quite a few years ago because they seemed like a great, classic thing to grow when you have kids. They’re easy to plant and fairly easy to have success with in most conditions. I quickly figured out that these were something that I needed to have in my garden every single year and we haven’t had a sunflower-less year ever since!
Why You Need to Grow Sunflowers
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, then you probably know that we aren’t expert gardeners by any means, and our garden has been a big learning experience for us over the years. And it still is! Our garden happens to be in our side yard and it’s really pretty big so it’s super noticeable to everyone who drives down our street. The funny thing is that over the years, no matter how full of weeds our garden gets when we’re too busy to get out there everyday, we continue to get so many compliments on how beautiful it is…. and I’ve figured out why.
It’s the sunflowers!
From the time they start blooming in July, they’re the first thing you notice as you’re driving past our property and they really do make the whole garden seem like it’s really well taken care of, no matter what state it’s in. They distract the eye from all of the weeds that pop up here and there when we aren’t looking. 🙂
So while sunflowers are great to have because of all the bees they bring to our property, great as a cut-flower, and of course great for the actual sunflower seeds you can harvest from them, the main reason we grow them is because they make the rest of our vegetable garden look so great! We can easily plant them anywhere, in the ground or in a raised-bed right next to our vegetable plants and they’re always vigorous growers as long as they have plenty of sunlight and good drainage.
Our Favourite Trick to Grow the Best Sunflowers
There really isn’t too much to know about the actual process of planting sunflower seeds. You find a sunny spot, plant them in the ground according to seed packet directions, water them a bit, and watch the magic happen as they bloom! Make sure you sow sunflower seeds about 30 cm apart to give them plenty of room.
You may want to plant some types of sunflower seeds up against a tall wall or fence so they have a little extra support. Some tall varieties may need a little extra help on windy days.
We’ve found though that the real fun comes in re-growing sunflowers year after year, or even throughout the same growing season.
One year we planted two different varieties: A classic bright yellow one and a deep red type as well. We left the sunflowers out in the garden well into the late fall and just let them die there on their own.
The next year in the early spring, before we had a chance to get out there and start working the soil again, we noticed a whole bunch of little sunflower plants popping up everywhere in the raised garden bed where they’d been the previous year. We decided to just leave them and see what would happen. If they grew nicely, that would be one less thing for us to plant! 🙂
The interesting thing that happened is that they seemed to end up cross-breeding themselves so we ended up having all kinds of weird and wonderful color combinations when the sunflowers finally bloomed! So we did the same thing the next year!
When you allow the sunflowers to kind of naturalize and re-seed themselves, they get stronger and more beautiful every year and they really seem to adapt to the environment that they’re in.
Last year we even cut down some of the dead sunflowers from our garden and scattered them around the banks of the creek here and there. Now we’re starting to have a few sunflowers coming up and blooming on the banks of creek as well! Did you see the pretty red one I found at the bridge over the creek that I shared on Instagram a few weeks ago?
How to Re-Grow Sunflowers
If you’d like to try learning how to grow sunflowers…. and then re-grow sunflowers, here’s exactly how to do it!
Sunflowers are super easy to grow as long as you have the right location. We’ve definitely had some areas where they didn’t grow so well in the past so the best thing to do is to try different locations until you find the sweet spots where you can have success without much effort at all and they become a great asset to any wildflower landscaping endeavours you might undertake.
A great way to do this is to cut off the flower heads from your successfully grown sunflowers once the petals have disappeared in the fall and tuck them in around a few different areas of your yard or property. The ones that were placed in an optimum growing spot will naturally re-seed themselves and grow, and the others will just break down and become compost.
This whole process is so quick and easy that you’ll probably forget you did it at all! It’s so fun the next year to get all of these surprise sunflowers of different colours popping up everywhere.
Harvesting Sunflower Seeds
Once the seed heads mature and you see that the sunflower head turns brown, it’s time to harvest! Make sure you protect your sunflowers from the birds, because they’ll probably realize it’s time to harvest before you do. 🙂 Read my post here for a little help with that: How to Protect Sunflowers From Birds.
Do you grow sunflowers? Do you have a favourite variety that I should try adding in to the mix next year?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.