Sunflowers need sun and they don't seem to mind the summer heat too. Actually we can grow sunflowers almost year-round with the exception of very cold winter months. Personally I prefer the 10, 12 or maybe 15 feet high varieties with a big yellow flower at the very top. Growing sunflowers is a fun family project to see who can grow the biggest, tallest and best looking plants.
Modern sunflowers are not all the sky high varieties. Some sunflowers are very small like the varieties Teddy Bear and Sunspot that only grow to about two feet tall. There are sunflowers with bronze to deep orange blossoms, and some with a variety of colors on the same plant. And many sunflowers don't produce just one big flower any more - often they produce clusters of medium to large flowers on numerous stems.
Growing sunflowers is fun. Find a sunny spot in your yard to raise one sunflower or a whole collection. The more you decide to grow the bigger the area needed. Most sunflowers require two or more feet between their main stems for best growth.
Sunflower plants are not fussy so all you have to do is loosen the soil with a shovel or maybe a hoe. Scatter a little general garden fertilizer over the surface, then rake the soil smooth and you are ready to plant.
Now here comes the big decision. What type of sunflower would you like to grow? Seeds are available from your garden center or they can be ordered through a seed catalog. Do you want the traditional tall types like varieties Paul Bunyan or Mammoth that grows to 12 feet high or do you want some of the newer colorful and smaller selections? If you would like to experiment a little and have some fun too, pick a few sunflower seeds out of a bird seed mixture to see what grows.
If you know the eventual size of your sunflowers, plant the taller types in the back or center of the garden. Then place the lower growing types around the outside. Sow the seeds by opening a shallow hole in the ground an inch deep and then drop in the sunflowers. Just one or two seeds per hole is all you need.
Sunflower seeds germinate and begin above ground growth in about seven days. All you have to do is keep the soil moist and apply a light scattering of the garden fertilizer over the soil surface every three to four weeks.
When the flowers begin to appear you can enjoy them in the garden or cut them to use in bouquets. They are best cut in the morning and placed directly in water. You might add a few more flowers or just some greenery from the landscape to create an arrangement.
If you leave the sunflowers on the plant they produce seeds as the color fades. You can allow them to remain in the garden to feed the birds or gather the plump seeds from large-flowered types to roast and eat. Place some of the seeds on a lightly oiled baking sheet in an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for a few minutes. When they cool, the seeds are ready to crack open and eat.