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Sunflowers

Posted: June 29th, 2013, 3:01 pm
by Farhan Ahmed
Helianthus. Annus
Sunflowers are a figurative plant since time immemorial in Gardening & Farming. This annual is a warm season plant, valued for its large flower head or multiple inflorescences of various colors & Hues in Modern cultivars. Sunflower seeds are also used for making oil & consuming seeds after roasting as snack.
In My opinion, this is an excellent plant to start with for beginners. Larger seed is very easy to germinate and let the grower experience the entire germination process.

Color & Size
Sunflowers are available in variety of sizes( 8 inch to 15 Ft ) and flower colors(Yellow-Orange-Red-Brown-White-Bi-colors)

Sowing
Sun Flower Seeds are large and easy to handle. They should preferably be sown in situ or in plugs to avoid root disturbance. They can be sown as early as Mid Jan/Just after last frost if growing in open, indoors they can be started even earlier.(Temp 20-25 C)
Seeds can be soaked in water for an hour or so for quicker germination.
They will require good amount of water per-germination.
Seeds should be sown at a depth equal to the size of the seeds or just poke the seed in the ground and cover them lightly. Seed sowing direction does not matter.
They should preferably be grown in rows with spacing of 18 inches for taller varieties. For Dwarf/medium size species distance will reduce.

Exposure
The only exposure for sunflowers is full sun. That is why they are called Sunflowers. They love Sun and heat. Sunflower will attain their best only in Full Sun (6-8 Hrs). Contrary to the myth of sunflower always facing the sun……..sunflower always face east, so plant sunflower keeping in mind that their flowers will be facing easterly direction.

Pinching
Pinching will not benefit sunflowers. Modern hybrids will anyway branch out to give multiple inflorescences, pinching will only cause them to abort more height. On the other hand Farm Sunflowers grown for larger flower head will only give one large flower head. Pinching can harm such species.

Watering
Sun Flowers are drought resistant plants. However feeding them well will ensure healthier plant, thereby larger blooms (Flower head and plant height if the variety permits). They prefer deep watering with intervals of 3-4 Days, even in Hot summers.

Soil Type and Fertilizing
Sunflower will grow in any of kind soil. However richer the soil, happier the plant will be. They prefer free draining sandy loam. They prefer slightly acidic to alkaline soil. Ensure that soil is free draining or you can end up with fungus problems.
Sunflowers are grown for size and will perform best in Ground.

Staking/Shelter
Taller Varieties can gain tremendous heights ( 15+). Garden cultivars can reach upto 8-10 Feet. Therefore it is must to stake sunflower with a large support (huge Plant-Large heavy flower head). Or else they can be knocked down due to high winds, heavy rainfall/ground loosening up or even due to their own weight. It is better to plant them at a sheltered site such as borders with wall at the back.

Protection from Birds

Sunflower seeds are a favorite meal for birds like parrots. When they set flowers, ensure protection in form of scare crow, fleece or something else to deter birds.

Problem
Mildew & Rust
Caterpillars in Early Summer

Sowing to Bloom Time
3-4 Months

Harvesting
Flower-heads should be allowed to dry-out on the plant. Then cut them and again let them bask in sun for one odd day. Store in Cool dry place or make a snack.

Tips
Sunflowers are a free self-sowing plant.
Dwarf Varieties are also available for growing in Pots.
It is best to leave sunflowers where you plant them. Transplanting does not work well with sunflowers.
Remember that sunflowers will grow very tall and can shade out other plants if you are not careful. Sunflowers always point to the direction that the sun rises, so consider this when planting.

Re: Sunflowers

Posted: July 21st, 2015, 3:42 pm
by AYK
Superb article. Excellent.

Re: Sunflowers

Posted: July 27th, 2015, 4:52 pm
by muhammad.khamis
When we can sow sunflower seeds? Which month?

Re: Sunflowers

Posted: July 27th, 2015, 5:01 pm
by muhammad.khamis
Can you please tell me all sunflower types that is available in Pakistan with their names.
I want to start collection and planting all sunflowers at home. Your cooperation will be highly appreciated.