growing sunflowers - need advice

austinwildflowerMarch 12, 2009

Hi, I finally have enough sunlight and extra space to try some annual sunflowers this year. I have both the native kind and a couple of packs of hybrids that are about 5-6 feet tall. Anyhow, I've never grown them before and am wondering--how long does it take for them to flower and do they flower throughout the summer or do they poop out in the heat? How long do the flowers last? I was thinking I could sow some now and then more a month later so that I could have more than just a brief show.... does anyone do that?

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tesa001(z8 plantersville tx)

i have always wanted to grow sunflowers

i'm sure others with more experience will chime
in, but i think i heard someplace that the smaller
varieties will produce thru the season, but the
really huge ones will just give you one huge bloom??

the one year i did try, i'm sure i failed because i
didn't have enough sun

aren't we gardeners forever tryin' to push the limits
of plants?? LOL

looking back on that spring, i remember that spot only got
about 4 hours of sun, and to think i really believed
they were gonna grow there


    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 3:25PM
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the_gurgler(DFW TX 7b Sunset 33)

We grew Russian Giant sunflowers last year around the kid's sandbox. They were really rewarding. They flowered through summer and were one HUGE head, about 6-8' tall, and 12-18" heads.

I'm not sure if you want the seed or not or just the flowers, but the seeds on the Russian ones were yummy. They start going limp as fall approaches. I don't remember the exact day, but I eventually put them out of their misery and harvested the heads close to or very early fall.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 4:36PM
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Yes, it would be nice to have some seeds, too, although it makes me wonder about the birds and critters, who all seem to be hungry and desperate this year.

Sounds like they flower for a long time, that's good. I have a few different seed packets I'm going to try. Also some of them seem to have multiple flower heads and some have just one. I'm going to plant them now because yay, it's raining here!!

Tesa, funny story but last year I tried this 'sun calculator' in a part of my garden in which I had twice tried to grow roses. I did it because I wanted to know how much I was convincing myself I had more sun than I did. After being in the ground for a whole day, the calculator said "Full shade" which is basically 3 hours or less of sunshine. I was like, ok, time to stop being delusional about growing roses.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 12:15PM
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I am growing sunflowers this year. It's my first time growing them in here in Austin, but I grew tons in South Florida.
Here's my tip: Make sure they are in FULL sun. They grow best, meaning tallest, when they are basking in the sun most of the day.
My experience was that the blooms on annual sunflowers last only about 2 weeks before they droop. If you want continuous blooms, plant seeds every 2 weeks.
Also, the blue jays, cardinals and other birds in my back yard loved the sunflowers and it was fun to watch them dive and feed. However, if you want the seeds for yourself, you have to protect the heads from the critters. I have wrapped the heads in brown paper bags (with a twist tie keeping it closed at the bottom)once I saw the birds hovering. Others have used netting of some kind. I left the heads dry out on the plant and then cut them off with about a foot of stalk attached.
Another potential pest problem I encountered in Florida were beetles that divebombed the heads and burrowed into the seeds to eat the goodies inside. Bummer.
But you're sure to get much pleasure from watching these tall beauties grow. If you don't like tall, they have dwarf varieties (Sunspot).
If they don't get full sun, they will be stunted and tiny heads.
Let me know how things go with yours this year.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 9:50AM
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Thanks for the advice, I will sow a second round to follow the first. I'll let you know how they do. It's funny thinking about beetles dive-bombing the seeds ;). I'm putting them smack int he center of an area that has butterfly host and food plants, so I imagine (hope) that it will be a wild world there this summer. I'm growing tall kinds, which is perfect. I've tried hollyhocks in the same area but they keep getting rust. It's full sun from about 9a.m. till 5pm.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 1:28PM
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susantexoma(7b TX)

I love sunflowers, but unfortunately so do the squirrels where we live (Sherman in Grayson County) -- they eat not just the flower buds and flowers but also the plant stems and leaves. I tried growing sunflowers when we first moved here last August, and they grew beautifully until the squirrels started in on them -- and within a week or two all my plants were decimated. So they're great to grow -- but watch out for the squirrels.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 6:26PM
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Yeah, I have a big squirrel problem this year and suffered a few heartbreaks. The only reason I was able to get poppies to grow is that I finally threw netting over an entire area. But I will take what chances may come, I'm just over fighting them but they've seemed to take a rest lately. Hmmm, maybe they are out gathering forces! :/

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 8:46PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

Making babies for reinforcements ...(grin)!!!!!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 1:50PM
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We live just north of Austin in Pflugerville and grew sunflowers last season. It started by accident the summer before. We have several bird feeders around our back yard. We noticed sunflowers sprouting on their own in the grass below the feeders and skipped mowing those areas. By mid summer we had a variety of sunflowers growing in clumps about the yard. Last year We bought and planted 6 different varieties and they all did really well, The heights ranged from 3 feet to well over ten feet. The larger ones on the most part did only have one large bloom, but lasted a good month and produced plenty of seed for this year. The smaller varieties, had multiple blossoms and flowered at different intervals. We had beautiful sunflowers all summer. I can't remember all the variety names, but the largest was called Mammoth, and several of those grew to almost 14 feet with seed heads as big as dinner plates. We planted them all along our back fence, and looking out the patio door was a beautiful sight. The photo is of a medium height variety with multiple blooms. Considering how dry last summer was here, it was pretty amazing. Cardinals love the seed but there were plenty left over at the end of the year to gather seed for this year. We didn't have a squirrel problem last year, but I've spotted one of those bushy tailed rats at our feeders this past week. You can't go wrong with sunflowers. We love em!!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 2:18PM
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