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February 2010
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SunFlowers – How to grow the plant, what soil conditions, and care needed

Sunflowers or Helianthus is the most popular summer flower. It is both a beautiful flower and a great vegetable! Healthy, nutritious and attractive, Sunflowers have it all. Sunflowers are used to attract birds to our homes. We also enjoy eating the seeds. They are high in protein. Sunflowers are popular as a cooking oil, too.

Appearance of a sunflower

The sunflower has a tall and thick stem crowned by what seems like a single giant flower. Interestingly, this flower is no flower at all but a constellation made up of hundreds of small flowers called the head. The brown center of the flower is the constellation of flowers, with the yellow leaves acting more as a protect ant to the flowers during the flowering and seed development phases.

How to plant sunflowers ?

– Plant your sunflower seeds between May 15 and July 1. Make sure soil temperatures are above 50 degrees F. The soil should be well-drained, but can range from sand to clay.
– Dig holes that are 1 to 2 inches deep in rows. Planting in rows will allow for good cultivation.
– Use a drill or corn planter.
– Put in a well-balanced fertilizer mixture. Add 50 pounds of phosphorus, 100 pounds of potassium and less than 100 pounds of nitrogen.
– Make sure to cover your seedlings after you add the fertilizer.

Care to take while growing sunflowers

– Plant sunflowers where they receive sun the whole day.
– Water frequently, but make sure not to over-water as this will hurt your sunflowers. Leaving them with too little water will harm them as well.
– Watch for sclerotina disease, which is a white mold. Recognize white mold by spotting rotting sunflower heads and stalks. Look for other disease such as rust and downy mildew.
– Put in a stake if your sunflower is having trouble standing on its own.

Soil Best for Growing Sunflower Seeds

– Sunflowers will thrive in a wide range of soil types. You can plant in sandy soil or in clay and have reasonable expectations of success either way.
– Don’t plant them in wet, swampy soils, and make sure any planting containers have adequate drainage.
– Sunflowers require medium to high levels of nitrogen in the soil, as they are somewhat inefficient users of that macro-nutrient. If you grow sunflowers in the same spot every year, you will need to enhance the soil with compost or fertilizer each time you plant.
– Sunflowers are rated as having low salt tolerance. They do not like saline environment.

Life Cycle of a Sunflower

– First you plant a seed.
– The root starts to pop out of the seed.
– The root starts to grow.
– The root hair begins to form and anchor the plant in the ground.
– The shoot begins to pop out and head in the opposite direction of the root.
– Eventually the shoot breaks through the soil.
– The shoot begins to grow in a sprout.
– The sprout starts to grow leaves.
– A bud starts to form.
– The bud starts to bloom. Petals and a flower head are formed.
– Seeds and pollen are on the flower head.
– The petals began to fall off and the flower begins to die.
– The seeds fall to the ground and the cycle starts again.

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