Sunflower for Home Garden – Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are one of the most remarkable and attractive flowers you can have in your home garden. They are brightly colored and their large, delicate, multi-petal bloom exudes vibrancy and positivity. It is also one of the toughest flowering plants that can grow in diverse environmental conditions.
There are many varieties of this plant. Some grow very tall (over 12 feet) while others are short (1 ½ foot) in stature. In this article, we will learn the right method of growing this beautiful yet sturdy plant in your home garden.
Creating ideal environment for sunflower plants
Sunflowers love a lot of sunshine. So much so that they keep turning their face towards the Sun as it passes through the sky. It is important that you don’t keep them away from sunlight for too long. It is best to provide at least 6-8 hours of full sunlight to your plant. Choose the sunniest part of your house, terrace or balcony to place the sunflower container.
It is also important that the container is deep enough to accommodate the growth of the large taproot of sunflower plant conveniently. Being a sturdy plant, your sunflower plant won’t fuss too much about variations in the temperatures, humidity, etc. Even a little variation in the pH (6 – 7.5) of the soil seldom bothers them.
Keeping the pot in a place where it is protected from strong winds is advisable.
Planting the sunflower seeds
Planting seeds in late winter or early spring is the best way to grow sunflower plant. Choose seeds from a good source and make sure they are disease free. While planting the seeds, make sure that you keep enough space between two seeds – around 4-6 inches – so that the low-growing plants have enough room for branching out. So around 2-6 seeds 1 inch deep in the container soil.
Caring for your sunflower plant
The seeds will germinate in just about 3-8 days. Don’t replant the seedlings in another container, however, as sunflower plant doesn’t like being replanted. Sunflower plant can grow in regions where water is scanty. However, for your home garden plant, it is best to provide enough water regularly so that it grows well and stays healthy. Keeping the soil somewhat moist is a good way to go. Or at least, water the pot if you see signs of wilting in the plant.
A loose, well-drained soil is ideal for excellent growth. Known to be heavy feeders, you should use soil that is enriched with organic manure and compost. A slow releasing granular fertilizer is also a good choice.
Harvesting the sunflower
The complete growth cycle of the sunflower plant is about 60-75 days. The flower heads of the sunflower plant attain maturity in about 30-45 days. When the petals turn yellow from green and the bracts turn dry and brown, it is the right time to harvest the flower heads and seeds. You can gently cut the flower heads off the plant. The seeds can be removed from the flowers for further planting or feeding birds. Sunflower petals and seeds can be used for extracting oil and other culinary purposes as well.