image by Roger McManus: Morguefile
Sunflowers are a bright addition to household gardens. Sunflowers not only produce seeds at the end of the growing season, but also provide food for local birds. In the budding stage, sunflowers follow the sun each day. In the morning, the flower face will point towards the sun. As the day progresses, the plant gradually turns in a westward direction. Sunflowers are easy to grow, and smaller varieties can be used as cut flowers.
Choose a location in your garden that receives at least six hours of direct sun each day. This location should have well-drained soil that can retain adequate water to provide moisture for the plant. Sunflowers grow very tall, so take into account the potential height of the plant before placement.
Wait until after the final frost and initial warming of the ground before planting sunflower seeds. Most varieties require almost four months to produce a full flower; planting in late spring will provide mid-to-late summer blooms.
Add compost, humus or soil conditioner to the proposed planting area. Sunflowers enjoy vibrant growth in fertile soil. A little additive to the soil, turned over in the top 6 inches of dirt, will improve the health and hardiness of your sunflowers.
Use a trowel to dig 1/2-inch holes in the garden soil. Space holes 2 to 3 feet apart to allow for plenty of room for plant growth and air circulation around the mature plant.
Place one seed in each hole and cover the seed with 1/2 inch of loose soil. Press the dirt down gently, but don't pack it firmly.
Water the seeds initially. Growing plants require about 1 inch of water each week, either from rain or hose watering.