Sunflowers are among the most easygoing of all annual plants; plant your seeds in a sunny spot and watch your flowers grow. It really is just about that easy.
Sunflowers love full sun—at least six to eight hours of bright sunshine every day. The more sunshine they get, the happier they’ll be.
When you’re planning your sunflower planting, pH is not crucial, although ideally they prefer soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. If you don’t know the pH of your soil, you should have it tested. A local extension center will analyze your soil and give you a thorough, detailed report on not only the pH, but the level of nutrients in your soil and recommendations for amending the soil if needed. Getting your soil tested means you’ll only need to spend time, energy, and money on soil amendments when they’re actually necessary. A soil test will also identify any elevated levels of lead or other toxic heavy metals in your soil. These tests, available at your regional extension center, are not expensive—and they can save you money and aggravation!
When you choose a sunny site for your sunflowers, make sure the spot has well-draining soil. Check the spot just after a rain: does the water pool up? Not a good sign. Either build up the soil to allow for better drainage or find a new site.
The ideal soil should be loose, loamy, and well-draining. Sunflowers are heavy feeders and they send out taproots way down into the ground (up to 6 feet or more!). So prepare your planting area by digging down at least 2 feet and 3 feet across. The soil needs to be nutrient-rich: use organic matter or composted manure. You can also work in a slow-release granular fertilizer about 8 inches down. That will give your plants their best possible start!
Sunflowers need nitrogen at the beginning of their growth cycle so they can get their leaf production going. Once the flowers bud, nitrogen is not essential. If you do add nutrients once the flowers emerge, blood meal and fish emulsion are good choices.
Have you successfully chosen a spot for sunflower plants? Please tell us your tips for getting sunflower plants to grow in your selected site.