Plant Of The Month – July – Sunflowers
The Sunflower is clearly one of our favourite plants, with it being in our logo! There’s something cheery about sunflowers – they always manage to bring a smile to people’s faces. You will find that sunflowers can be a great addition to brighten up any garden, they not only add variety to your flowers selection but also improve the quality of your yearly harvests.
As well as bringing a bright burst of colour to your garden, another benefit of having your own sunflowers is the delicious seeds they produce. Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals and are a healthy source of protein. You can snack on the seeds alone, or as part of a trail mix with dried fruit chips, raisins and nuts. Hulled sunflower seeds make a great addition to delicious salads and you can even substitute them for nuts in your baking. To enhance their flavour even more, toast them in a pan over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or try baking them in the oven on a medium heat for ten minutes. Just make sure they don’t catch and burn!
When choosing which sunflower variety to buy, it helps to know the different options so you can pick which variety is the best fit for your garden. Contrary to popular belief, there is a vast range of different varieties of sunflowers that fall into three main categories: tall sunflowers, dwarf sunflowers, and coloured sunflowers.
American Giant, Skyscraper, Schweinitz’s Sunflower, Sunforest Mix, Russian Mammoth
Little Becka, Pacino, Sundance Kid, Sunny Smile, Suntastic Yellow
Terracotta, Ms. Mars, Earthwalker, Moulin Rouge, Chianti
Sunflowers originate from North and South America, so try and find a spot in the garden that will emulate conditions found there by giving them as much sun as possible.
When planting sunflowers, we recommend that you use seeds rather than seedlings. They can be planted up to two weeks before the last expected spring frost. Where growing seasons are long, it’s best to wait until the soil temperature reaches 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
The space between plants need to be about 10cm apart in a shallow trench between 2-4 cm deep. You must cover them and keep them watered until they sprout in 7-10 days.
Sunflower roots spread widely and can withstand some drought. However, it’s best to water them regularly during their most important growth period, which is about 20 days before and after flowering. Deep, regular watering helps encourage root growth, which is especially helpful with taller sunflower varieties bearing top-heavy blooms.
When the first leaves shoot, thin out your plants to around 2 feet apart. Variety dependent, sunflowers will mature and develop seeds in 80-120 days. Sow new seeds every 2-3 weeks to enjoy continuous blooms until the first frost.
The flowers will last longer if you remove any wilting flowers from the bunch to give buds more space.
Sunflowers do not require fertilising, however, it may be useful to add some slow-acting granular fertiliser to thin soil because of how fast they can grow.
Sunflowers can be susceptible to fungal diseases such as mildew, which causes mottling and pale areas of upper leaf surfaces as well as mould growth underneath the leaves. This will cause the leaves to eventually wither and die. Older leaves are usually infected first, and mildew is mostly likely to occur on cooler damp nights and warm humid days. Mildew is transmitted by tiny spores carried to plants and soil by wind and rain as well as being transmitted by garden tools.
For further information about the different Sunflower varieties that Scotsdales has to offer contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you.