How to Start Sunflower Seeds

Sunflowers thrive in sunny locations. image by MarcoMaru?morguefile


Sunflowers have been cultivated for over 4,000 years. According to Florida State University, a team of researchers confirmed that farmers in Mexico cultivated sunflowers as early as 2600 BC. Early writings refer to this stately flower as a "big flower that looks at the sun god." Used in pagan burial rituals and as a symbol of power, the sunflower has long been associated with the sun, primarily due to its uncanny resemblance to the sun and its habit of following its path. Sunflowers grow quickly and require little care.

Step 1

Select a sunny location for these sun-loving plants. Six to 8 hours of direct sunlight is adequate, but sunflowers thrive in locations that receive sunlight for the majority of the day. Keep in mind that mature sunflowers generally face east and blooms will not be visible from your yard if planted on an eastern border.

Step 2

Prepare the soil by tilling to a depth of 6 -8 inches. Amend with compost or well-rotted manure to improve drainage and provide nutrients. Sunflowers are tolerant of sandy soil as long as adequate water is provided.

Step 3

Plant seeds in late spring after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to 45-50 degrees F. Plant small seeds to a depth of ½ inch and large seeds to no more than an inch. Space seeds to the recommended distance indicated on the seed packet. Cover with soil and tamp down with your hands to remove air pockets. Water thoroughly and keep soil evenly moist until seedlings emerge in 5 --10 days.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tools
  • Compost
  • Well-rotted manure


  • University of Minnesota Extension
  • Florida State University
  • National Sunflower Association

Who Can Help

  • Fun Facts About Sunflowers
Keywords: plant sunflowers, grow sunflowers, germinate sunflower seeds

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.

Photo by: MarcoMaru?morguefile