Sunflowers are some of our favorite flowers to grow at Stoney Creek Farm. They’re bright, beautiful, and they are relatively easy to grow!
Plus, they’re the perfect flowers to trim and bring in to decorate with! Who can resist feeling a little bit happier when you look at a vase full of fresh sunflowers?
In Tennessee, sunflowers can usually bloom through September. Some seasons, like this year, might be a little different due to the early blooming we had earlier in the summer, but we’ll see!
Not only do they add a pop of color to the garden, but sunflowers also have additional benefits!
Attracting Beneficial Insects
Beneficial insects are an important tool for keeping the bad bugs at bay without using chemical pesticides.
These are insects that naturally prey on other plant-destroying insects and their larvae. Attracting—and keeping!—them in your garden is a key to keeping your plants safe.
Sunflowers are a great flower for attracting some of these beneficial insects, like:
- Big eyed bugs
- Ladybird beetles
- Parasitoid wasps
A study done over 2 years at organic farms in Florida found that many of these beneficial insects were found not only on the sunflowers themselves, but also on the vegetation crop directly adjacent to the sunflowers.
So start planting those sunflowers to protect your vegetable garden!
Sunflowers for Honey Bee Health
Honey bees are some of the most numerous insects to make a visit to sunflowers.
It’s a mutual relationship—honey bees help the flowers pollinate while the flower in return offers sweet nectar for honey production (we can definitely appreciate that)!
But studies have suggested that sunflower pollen can also help boost honey bees’ health, too! As honey bee populations continue to decline, we can get behind anything that might help keep these important pollinators healthy and happy!
How to Grow Sunflowers
Although it’s too late in the season to begin your own sunflower garden now, it’s never too early to start planning for next year!
Here are some sunflower growing basics:
Sunflowers are called “sun”flowers for a reason.
Sunflowers are annual plants that will grow well with plenty of direct sunlight—6 to 8 hours worth.
Sow your sunflower seeds.
You’ll want to make sure you plant them in soil that is loose and drains well.
Sunflowers like to spread out their roots and get comfy, so give them plenty of space to do so—prepare your flower bed by digging 2 feet deep and 3 feet across.
Sunflowers grow best as seeds sown directly into your garden soil. Sow them 1 in. deep and 6 inches apart after soil is warm and all danger of frost has passed. Rows should be around 30 in. apart.
You need to stay hydrated in the heat—and so do your sunflowers.
You’ll want to keep the seeds regularly watered (but not soaked—keep it light) until they germinate. After that, your sunflower plants should only require around an inch of water each week.
Seeds will usually sprout between 7 – 10 days. Sunflowers mature in 80 to 120 days.
Keep the blooms coming all summer long.
To continue enjoying your sunflower blooms all summer long, you can stagger your planting 5 – 6 weeks apart.
Get more of the dirt on sunflowers (pun intended!) from The Farmer’s Almanac.