Sunflowers are one of the most popular plants in your garden. They have long been used as food and medicine throughout history. There are many varieties of sunflowers which vary greatly in color and shape. These flowers come from different species of the genus Oenothera, but they all belong to the same family: Solanaceae (sunflower). They may be grown as annuals or perennials, although they prefer full sun conditions when growing outdoors.
How Much Does A Sunflower Grow In A Week?
The average height of a sunflower seedling is between 1 inch and 2 inches tall. The maximum size is 4 inches. If you want to plant a sunflower in the ground, it will need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day during its first year. After that time, the plant needs some shade if it wants to survive well in our climate. The average number of sunflower seeds per plant is around 40 seeds.
If you plan to grow a few sunflowers in your garden, then you’ll probably only need to plant them once every two years. That’s because they don’t require too much care after their first year.
They’re not very vigorous either, so they usually die back within a couple of years unless given extra attention by humans like we do with our vegetables.
You can harvest sunflower seeds when the head of a flower (which is made up of hundreds of small flowers) starts to wither and turn brown. After that, you can shake the seeds out of the head by holding it firmly on both sides and gently shaking it back and forth.
You might have to do this several times so that all of the seeds come out.
How Many Sunflower Plants For Oil?
The number of sunflower plants needed to produce a certain amount of oil varies. For example, about 135,000 sunflower plants are needed to make one metric ton of oil. An average of 1,680 pounds of seeds are needed to produce one gallon of oil.
To make sunflower oil, you must first dry the seeds slightly. Then, the best way is to extract the oil by using a screw press.
This process is quite similar to how olive oil is made.
If you want to make about 32 gallons of sunflower oil for personal use, then you’ll need about 4,000 ripe seeds. If you want to make 16 gallons of sunflower oil for commercial purposes, then you’ll need about 8,000 ripe seeds.
Can You Plant Sunflowers In The Grass?
Yes, sunflowers can be planted in the grass. They will need a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. You must wait until there is no longer any danger of frost before planting them.
During the first month after planting your sunflowers, you should keep an eye on them since there is a chance that squirrels or chipmunks might decide to dig up your seeds and eat them. You can place a few small pebbles on top of the planted seeds if you want to reduce this possibility.
Sunflowers can grow up to between 8 feet and 14 feet tall and they have large leaves. They are not really made for corners, so you need to keep this in mind when planting them.
Sunflowers typically have a life span of 1 year, but they often produce many seeds before then.
Is It Easy To Grow Sunflowers From Seeds?
Yes, it is easy to grow sunflower plants from seeds. Here are the steps you should follow:
Step 1: Place a few pebbles in a bucket of water so that they are covered and place the bucket in a sunny location such as on your porch or somewhere else outside. You’ll need to change the water every day.
The idea is to keep the pebbles constantly wet so they remain a little warm, but not too hot.
Step 2: Once the temperature consistently reaches 65 degrees Fahrenheit in your area, you can plant the sunflower seeds. Scatter the seeds over the ground where you want to grow them and then cover them with dirt.
Gently pat the ground to ensure that the seeds are in contact with the soil.
Step 3: Keep the area free of weeds and keep it lightly watered. You don’t want the soil to become muddy though.
Sunflower seeds are very nutritious. They contain high amounts of vitamin E, copper, vitamin B1, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese.
They also have high amounts of fiber and protein.
Sunflowers grow in all zones (zones 1-10) of North America.
There are actually many different types of sunflowers, but the common ones that you typically see are Helianthus annus.
Sunflowers grow to be between 5 feet and 15 feet tall. Their leaves are very large and their stems are thick.
Some animals such as birds, deer, bees and even bears eat the seeds after they’re done farming them.
The best sunflower farmers get up to 1,500 sunflower seeds per plant when they harvest.
Some Native American tribes used to grind sunflower seeds to a meal to use as a sort of soup.
The main reason why sunflowers were introduced to North America from the Old World was for their delicious seeds.
Sunflower oil, when taken from sunflower seeds and used in cooking, can help prevent some types of cancer.
In many parts of the world where sunflowers grow, the flowers are used as medicine and in religious ceremonies. One example is in Mexico where they are used as part of a ritual to honor the dead.
The largest sunflower field is located in Tuscany, Italy and it covers 5.2 hectares (12 acres).
Sunflower Farming Tips
Once you’ve grown your sunflowers, you can start to farm them. Here are some tips to remember while growing your sunflowers:
It’s best to avoid planting sunflower seeds where you’ve grown pumpkins, cucumbers or melons in the past 5 years. This is because this allows a plant disease known as cucurbit vine borer to thrive and it will quickly infest your field.
You can grow sunflowers in large containers such as plastic trash cans or in a garden that has good drainage. You need to pick a location that gets full sun and has soil that is rich in nutrients.
Don’t over-fertilize your sunflowers as this can damage or kill the plants.
Avoid growing sunflowers in clay soil as it drains too quickly and you risk losing your crop to disease.
If you need to buy seeds, pick genetically-modified, terminator-brand seeds as these have been specifically bred to be high-yield.
It’s best to grow sunflowers in rows that are five plants wide as this makes it easier for when you’re harvesting.
Make sure you have enough room to drive a tractor or other machinery between the rows. It’s also a good idea to leave access for a water truck to help control the weeds.
Don’t plant sunflowers too late in the season as they need time to mature and will be prone to infestation from potential pests.
Make sure you leave enough space between the rows as sunflowers can grow up to five feet in height.
Harvesting your crop can be hard work as you need to do it when the seeds are fully ripe and this can take several weeks. You can speed up the process by keeping track of when the flowers bloom and stripping the seed heads when over 50% of them turn brown and droop.
Sunflower oil, which is sold in stores, is made from the seeds and can be used as a substitute for butter and other oils when cooking.
Sunflower oil also has many health benefits and can be applied directly to the skin to help treat conditions like eczema and psoriasis. It can also be taken internally to help prevent heart disease and high cholesterol.
Sunflower oil is commonly used in the production of soaps, lotions, and cosmetics.
You can make bird feed with the leftover seeds. You need to place a bucket of water next to your sunflower, wait for the seeds to be dropped, then pour the water into a container and leave it to stand overnight.
The following day you need to skim the top layer off and throw it away before putting the remaining seed and water mixture into your bird feeders.
Farmers grow sunflowers mainly for their oil-rich seeds which can be eaten or used in a variety of industrial products. The biggest consumers of sunflower seeds are birds, so any farming for this purpose needs to be done in areas where there are a lot of birds or in places where they are likely to pass by.
The petals of sunflowers have a popular history with being used in art and decoration due to their circular shape and bright color. Today, you can buy sunflower petals to add temporary color to salads and other dishes.
History of Sunflowers
The sunflower is native to the Americas and was first cultivated by Native American groups such as the Pueblo tribe, who would use the seeds in foods, for purposes like oil, and in medicine. One common belief at the time was that sunflower seeds were effective when dealing with various eye conditions.
The sunflower was first classified in the 1800’s by the Russian botanist, Nikolai İvanovitch von Tzschirp, after he and his fellow researchers studied a collection of plants that had been collected from Peru. They chose to name the flower Helianthus, which is derived from the Greek word for “sun”.
The sunflower was first introduced to Europe in the 1730’s, and it was not until the 1800’s that it started to gain popularity as a garden plant. By this time, it had also become popular in America as a crop due to its high yields.
It has since spread to Asia and parts of Africa where it is also used as both a food and industry crop.
In the 1920’s, hybrid sunflowers that could grow to over eight feet in height were created. These were called “Giant Sunflowers” and were mainly used as a way of advertising businesses, with signage being displayed on the plants themselves.
Today, these kinds of sunflowers are most often grown by farmers for the purposes of bird feeding and oil production.
How to Grow Sunflowers
Sunflowers are very easy to grow and can be grown in all kinds of soil types, as long as the soil is loose and well-drained. They do best in soil that has a lot of nitrogen, so adding manure or other organic material can help.
Planting sunflower seeds is very easy to do, although it is recommended you only try it in a place that is sheltered from the wind. This is because the plants can grow very tall and are prone to toppling over in high winds.
Here is what you need to do:
1. You need to prepare your soil.
Choose a spot that gets a lot of sunlight, as sunflowers need a lot of light to grow their best. Till the soil to a depth of eight inches and remove any weeds or stones that you find.
2. Create a large hole for each sunflower seed.
The hole should be a similar size to the seed itself.
3. Place one sunflower seed in each hole and cover it with soil.
Keep the soil loose, as sunflowers need room to grow.
4. Water the soil until it is evenly moistened.
These seeds need a lot of water to germinate, so be patient as you water them in.
5. Place a small barrier around each sunflower seed.
This will prevent the seeds from being disturbed when you garden, but still allow enough room for the stem and leaves to grow.
6. Keep the soil moist until you see the sunflower’s first leaves.
Apply fertilizer once every two weeks after this.
Sunflowers can grow to be very large and require a lot of space, so be sure you pick a spot that has enough room or that you are willing to make the room for them.
Sunflowers are easy to grow plants that require only a few things to thrive.
Sunlight: Sunflowers need at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. They also do best in areas that have a temperature between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
In hotter areas, they may wilt, and colder temperatures will cause their growth to slow down.
Water: Sunflowers need a lot of water, so be sure to provide it to them. Keep the soil constantly moistened, but not soggy.
Fertilizer: Sunflowers do best with a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen and phosphorus. Manure is a good option, or you can buy a premixed bag of fertilizer from your local home and garden supply store.
Apply the fertilizer once every two weeks while the flower is growing.
Pest Control: Despite being susceptible to pests such as aphids and caterpillars, sunflowers are not especially prone to attack.
When is it time to harvest the seeds?
Once the flower head begins to turn down and brown, it is time to harvest the seeds. Cut down the entire flower by the base. You can then shake or blow the seeds out of the head, or you can simply let them fall out on their own.
How to eat sunflower seeds:
Sunflower seeds can be eaten fresh or they can be dried and stored.
To eat them fresh, remove all the outer shells. Some people find this tricky, so you can also buy shelled sunflower seeds at the grocery store.
To dry them, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and put them in an oven that is set to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave them in the oven for 3-4 hours, making sure to shake the baking sheet every once in awhile so that they don’t burn.
Let them cool after you take them out of the oven.
Storing sunflower seeds:
Sunflower seeds can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks after drying. If you need to store them for longer than that, you can put them in the freezer and use them as needed.
They can stay in the freezer for up to a year.
Have fun growing sunflowers!
Fun Fact: Sunflower seeds are edible, and they make a nice healthy snack!
Thanks for reading!
Sources & references used in this article:
Sunflower moth (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae): oviposition and chemical control of larvae on sunflowers by LJ Depew – Journal of economic entomology, 1983 – academic.oup.com
Intercropping with sunflowers to attract beneficial insects in organic agriculture by GA Jones, JL Gillett – Florida Entomologist, 2005 – BioOne
Variation and subspeciation in the common sunflower, Helianthus annuus by CB Heiser Jr – American Midland Naturalist, 1954 – JSTOR
… the composition of sunflower seed oils. II.—Composition of the seed oils of sunflowers grown in English gardens from five specimens of different African sunflower … by C Barker, TP Hilditch – Journal of the Science of Food and …, 1950 – Wiley Online Library