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Sunflowers and Tulips

Posted by summerf z5Canada (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 19, 06 at 20:38

Hi, I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia and today my 5 year-old grandaughter asked me to plant sunflowers for her this summer. I have never done this before and I need help. Do I plant sunflowers seeds or transplants and what kind of soil/fertilizer do they need. Also she wants me to plant some tulips. Is it too late to do this? Can you only plant tulip bulbs in the fall for the following summer or can I plant them this spring and have them for the summer or the fall. I would appreciate any help you can give me. I have to keep this little gem happy. Thanks.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Sunflowers and Tulips

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RE: Sunflowers and Tulips

Just go to Canadian Tire or any other store that sells seeds and pick up a pack of seeds - they should have several sorts to chose from. You can get big huge and tall, fancy red colours, cute and tiny, and all kinds of sorts in between.

Sunflowers are really easy to grow - they're a good kid plant. The easiest thing to do, without getting into any kind of fancy special light set-up, is to take a yogurt container or styrofoam cup (or anything like that) and some seed starting soil mix that you can also get at Canadian Tire ($5 will buy you a bag with more than you'll need). Make sure you've poked a hole or two in the container! Around the second week of May, fill your container(s) with the soil mix, water it well, and poke a seed into the soil, about 1/2 inch deep.

Don't let the container dry out, but don't keep it soaking wet either. In a week or two at most, you should see something poking above the soil. Sometimes the seed husk gets stuck over the first leaves - that's not really a problem, and you can leave it alone. The plant will sort itself out, and you may break it if you fiddle with it.

You can do this inside or outside (outside is a bit better, but beware of birds or squirrels stealing your seeds!). If you do it outside, pay attention to the nighttime temperatures - if it is going to go near or below freezing, take those seedlings inside! The soil will dry out faster if you do it outside, but the seedling will get better light. If you do it inside, put the seedling in the sunniest window you have, until the temperatures are consistantly above freezing. Then place the seedling outside in a shady spot, out of the wind. Over the next week you can slowly move it into a sunny spot.

Towards the end of May, when the danger of frost is past, you can transplant your seedlings into the garden. Sunflowers are pretty tolerant of poor soil, but they won't tolerate a constantly wet or boggy spot. Fertilize with flower fertilizer - something that has a high phosphorus number (the middle number - the P in NPK) every other week and make sure you tie the stem to something (fence or stake)as it grows. The flower heads can get heavy!

You can let the flower dry on the stalk, and watch as the birds have a feast in the late summer and fall.


RE: :Sunflowers and Tulips

Forgot about the tulips - they have to be planted in the fall, usually around Thanksgiving. Many of the fancier ones won't reliably come back, so I'd stick to the cheaper, regular ones if you're just starting out. If you want them to spread, you want to look for the word "naturalizing" on the package.

In the fall, dig a hole about 4-5 inches deep, place a little bit of bone meal in, drop in the tulip (pointy side up), and cover it up. In the spring, let the leaves stay until they start to die back on their own. Do not trim, braid, or do anything else to them. While the leaves are growing, fertilize it every week or two with a balanced fertilizer. Once the leaves have yellowed, you can remove them.

Every 4-5 years, in the late summer, you should dig them up and divide them, as many babies will have formed. Replant as above


RE: Sunflowers and Tulips

Tulips have to be planted in teh fall because they do need to go through a cold winter in order to come and produce spectacular blooms in late spring or early summer. But because this is for your grandaughter, I would suggest that you go to your garden centre and get potted bulbs that are just about to bloom and set this in the ground. No need for her to know the details.

That should do it.


RE: Sunflowers and Tulips

  • Posted by msjean Z6..NS...Canada (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 20, 06 at 6:35

I like Ianna's idea about buying one from the garden center and then you can share planting bulbs together next fall.

This reminds me of the old saying.."Don't wait for spring..Do it now". Maybe it's an old comercial...but it stayed in my mind.

RE: Sunflowers and Tulips

Actually, summerf, it is not too late to plant tulips this spring. While it's true that the bulbs usuallyy ned to be planted in the fall because they need an extended cooling period to bloom, there is now a solution.

Some garden centers (including Home Depot in the U.S. but not in Canada) store their bulbs in a cooler for the winter and then sell them in the spring, ready to plant. I purchased a number last April and they bloomed beautifully in my garden a few weeks later.

Your best bet is probably ordering from Breck's Bulbs, which has something they call the Instant Blooms collection, where you can purchase a number of varieties of Tulips, daffodils and hyacinths by mail order, plant them in your garden this spring, and they are guaranteed to bloom 3 weeks after you plant them.

So your granddaughter will not be disappointed after all!

Here is a link that might be useful: Breck's Bulbs

RE: Sunflowers and Tulips

Hi, Thank you everyone for all your help. I was talking to my grandaughter, Summer, today and she and I together are going to start the sunflower seeds in containers as per your instructions. I am going to cheat though and buy a pot of bulbs and she and I can plant them in her small garden. I started her out when she was three with various kinds of daylilies and roses. She loves digging in the dirt and takes great pride in her flowers. In the Fall I told her we would plant tulip bulbs and she is excited about that as long as they are her favorite color, pink. Again, thanks so much.

RE: Sunflowers and Tulips

Hi Summerf,
If you send me your address I will gladly send you some sunflower seeds. A friend just gave me a whole bunch of them. They are a variety called 'Lemon Queen'.

RE: Sunflowers and Tulips

Dominion Seeds has a sunflower that is 16' tall.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dominion Seeds

RE: Sunflowers and Tulips

  • Posted by owbist 6A-Niagara, Ont (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 25, 06 at 8:37

Another huge attraction for Sunflower growers is watching the birds eating the seeds in the fall. I grow a few each year for myself and for the birds, great enjoyment.

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