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It's important to note that while most sunflower varieties are annuals, many will reseed themselves if left to the end of the season on their own, especially if there are critters around the planting site to help spread the seed.
Slower to mature but will come back each year in the right growing conditions. They prefer full sun but will also usually do well in partial shade. Typically smaller varieties, but some, like the Maximilian sunflower, grow very tall.
annuus cultivars readily reseed in the garden if they haven't been deadheaded before self-sowing occurs. Instead, look at the flowers. Perennial varieties are native plants, and the blooms tend to be more modest, though they're still shaped like daisies, with petals that radiate from the center.
Perennial sunflowers need a dormant period, so they do not make good winter houseplants. The growth dies in the fall, and the roots need time to rest and gear up for the next growing season. Leave landscape plants outdoors, move container-grown plants to a protected area, and wait until spring.
Sunflower seeds are easy to collect and store for planting next year. Just let the flowers go to seed, then harvest the seeds and keep them in a cool, dry place. Saving sunflower seeds is a great way to get free seeds for your garden, and it's also a fun project for kids.
Overwintering. Sunflowers are sensitive to frost and may need to be overwintered indoors. You can keep your sunflower in a warm, bright, dry location indoors throughout winter. Sunflowers can survive winters, but their flowering will likely be duller in color.
Some sunflowers are annual and survive only one season, and others are perennials that will return every year. All perennial and annual sunflowers produce brilliant flowers that are a highlight of any late-summer garden.
Sunflowers are fast reproducers, and one plant can create dozens of others. Plant seeds about an 1 inch below the ground. Germination occurs quickly, usually between 5 and 10 days, but spring crops produce more plants than summer crops. Spring crops are planted in April and May.
Annual sunflowers bloom during summer and into autumn. Sow new plants every few weeks and you'll enjoy non-stop flowers until the first frost. Perennial sunflowers bloom for a period of 8-12 weeks with some beginning as early as July and others finishing as late as October.
Remove sunflower root balls from the soil.
Once dislodged, sunflower root balls should be removed from the soil as much as possible, as it will be hard to plant around the tough roots. The woody root and stalk won't compost very quickly, so consider burning them instead.
There are pint-sized sunflowers that grow just a foot tall and giant varieties that reach for the sky, but you don't need a big garden to grow sunflowers. These classic summer bloomers can be planted in plastic pots, fabric planters, or even buckets.
Newly planted sunflowers need damp conditions, especially during germination, but established sunflower plants need about one inch of water per week. Underwatered sunflowers will not grow large or bloom, and the plants may droop and appear wilted. Overwatered sunflowers are susceptible to root rot.
When to Plant Sunflowers. Plant seeds after the danger of spring frost has passed and the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees. This will be between March and May, depending on where you live.
Perennial sunflowers are herbaceous, and new growth appears in the spring. Trim the new growth back by half in mid to late spring. Prune the plant again in mid to late summer. Annual sunflowers can also be cut back in late spring.
After a long season of beauty and life, the flowers petals will start to wilt. Eventually the whole flower will shrivel, where the seeds will then be released and scatter into the depths of nature.
At the end of the season, it's easy to harvest sunflower seeds to dry for re-planting, baking up for a tasty snack, and re-purposing into suet cakes to feed the birds in the winter months. Sunflowers are ready to harvest when their foliage turns yellow, the petals die down and the seeds look plump.
Sunflowers need full sun; see 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day – the more the better if you are trying to grow them to their maximum potential. Choose a well-drained location, and prepare your soil by digging an area of about 2-3 feet in circumference to a depth of about 2 feet.
In the morning, all the sunflowers will face east, the direction of the rising sun. As the sun moves, so will the sunflower heads to follow it. But as summer turns to autumn and the sunflowers get big and ripe and heavy with seeds, they will stop moving. Until they are harvested, they will face only east.
Put sunflowers in their permanent location when planting. Due to their taproot, moving plants is not advisable. It is nearly impossible to move growing plants with taproots once active growth has started.
So how late can you plant sunflower seeds? With varieties that only require a 50-60 day growing season, you should be able to plant sunflowers as late as July for fall flowers. If you live in a warm climate where the first frost comes well into late fall, you can plant sunflowers even later in the season.
Sunflowers grow best in locations with direct sunlight (6 to 8 hours per day); they require long, warm summers to flower well. Shelter from strong winds—for example, along a fence or near a building—helps as they mature. Larger varieties may become top-heavy, and a strong wind can topple them.