Yes, sunflowers (Helianthus annus) are easy to grow but there’s something to know before you plant them to avoid creating other problems in the garden. I try new varieties each year, growing them both for beauty and bird food = win win. You can read more about how to safely feed garden birds here.
If you’ve familiar with companion planting you know that plants are sensitive to their surroundings. Not just the soil quality, amount of sun, and moisture levels, but which other plants are growing nearby. Some get along just fine, others benefit one another, and a few compete for resources. Sunflowers actually produce compounds that inhibit growth in some other plants, stopping seed germination and growth.
The two plants known to be negatively affected by sunflowers are:
- pole beans (that climb like vines)
Both will struggle if planted too close to sunflowers.
Plants that actually benefit from sunflowers growing nearby are:
If you select a nice, tall strong variety of sunflower, you can train cucumber vines to use it as trellis.
Planting Sunflower Seeds
There are so many choices: size, colours (from pale yellow to bold reds and oranges), appearance, volume of seeds they produce, number of flower heads on each stalk. The tiny ones reach about 2 feet tall. The world record for sunflower height is currently 27 feet!
You can see sunflower seeds here on Amazon but it’s best to buy them from a local source.
- Pick a full-sun location
- They like fertile, well-drained soil
- Cover the soil with heavy mulch
- Grow in-ground or in containers
Sunflowers are annuals so you plant them from seeds each year (or, if your garden is like mine, let the chipmunks plants them from birdseed).
Did you ever notice this?
- While young sunflower seedlings will move to face their light source, mature sunflowers remain in place, always facing the morning sun.
Here’s a few favourites from my garden:
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