I'm sure you master gardeners will laugh at me, but how does one grow a
sunflower to be 6 feet tall? I've tried growing sunflowers from seed for
the past two years, starting them in pots and transplanting the seedlings to
containers outside when it gets warm enough, but the seeds I've planted have
set one small bloom at about 18" and then nothing. (I haven't pinched or
anything - I was always told that sunflowers are the easiest plant to grow,
so I just planted 'em and watched 'em grow.) Are those huge Kansas-style
sunflowers perennials that take a few years to get that tall? Any info
USDA Zone 7
Basic human psychology is one of my subroutines.
Get a soil test. Either buy a kit and do it yourself, TWICE (in case of
errors), or pay the very small price to have it done by your cooperative
extension. You have to eliminate soil factors first, and then other reasons.
In article email@example.com says...
You need the Massive Sunflower seeds or something similar. Not all
sunflowers are alike and many don't grow that big. I've gotten them 8'
high growing them in a container with no problem. The sunflowers in my
wildflower mixes only get around 4' high. The Menards by me has an
entire section dedicated to different sunflower seeds producing plants
of all different shapes and sizes.
In the following pic from early July last summer, these are 7' high
grown in a 20 gallon Rubbermaid tote. They're volunteers from the
previous years so they're part massive part some other breed made by the
bees. The year before these were well over 8 feet high. I don't have
to plant sunflowers anymore. :-)
I'm in Charlottesville, so we're practically neighbors.
I found that when I started sunflowers from seed they got too leggy, no
matter what I did. Just sowing them directly into the bed after May 1st and
then ignoring them works much better for me.
Of course, make sure your seeds are the really tall variety, too. There are
so many different kinds out there and some of them are quite short.
Callen in VA
You get a variety that will grow that tall. :-) One such has been sold
hereabouts as a Russian Sunflower, and has grown to over 8ft tall in my
front yard. It has white seeds, not black or brown ones, but the birds
don't care, they gobble them up anyway. I have no ides what other names
it goes by.
Well, in response to everyone that said get the variety that grow that tall,
according to the seed packs I have, the varieties I've planted are supposed
to grow to 6 or 7 feet in height. The problem is that mine have never
gotten over 2 feet tall. The are leggy with thin stems and few leaves, not
at all thick and full like the pictures Mark posted, for example. So do
these plants actually grow 6 feet over one summer? How early in the season
should I be planting them so they have sufficient grow time to get that big?
On Tue, 28 Feb 2006 15:56:46 +0000, Natty Dread wrote:
This sounds like a classic low nitrogen and or too little water issue.
Sunflowers are somewhat heavy feeders and require a larger amount of
nitrogen than you may think. You can deal with this issue in a variety of
ways , one being to amend the soil with steer manure or blood meal. I like
to plant sweet peas with my sunflowers. The peas will use the sunflowers
as a trellis and help to feed the sunflowers. The peas will fade off in
the summer heat and stop supplying the nitrogen and not affect the flower
Sunflowers require lots of water. Sunflowers has been used for centuries
to drain and reclaim swamp land in Holland. Under watering will stunt
there growth just as badly as low nitrogen.
I would recommend that you amend your soil to at least 12 inches.
Sunflowers will put out a massive root system if they have the room. Add
compost, manure, blood meal..etc and a good handful or two of bone meal.
Water well in the summer and you should have great sunflowers.
I'm in NY & I grow Mammoth [a variety name] Sunflowers- plant them in
mid May, and by mid August have had 10 footers with seed heads 2 feet
across. [note that the page Hal posted has 'days to maturity' for
many of the flowers- there are some 6footers there that say 60 days--
and others that need 100]
I'm with Tim- your problem is probably Nitrogen or not enough water.
[mine seem to like well tilled soiled, too. Or maybe the ones in the
well tilled soil are just better fed.]
I wonder if something might be stunting them during the starting and
transplanting stage. I've grown huge sunflowers in zone 3 by direct
seeding in the garden. Maybe a good test would be to direct sow a few
at the same time you set out your seedlings. I'd bet a nickle the
direct sown seeds will outperform.
I had 8 foot sunflowers last year, and will try for taller ones this year.
The most important thing is the seed. If the parents were tall, yours will
likely be tall. Many varieties of sunflower are short. Perhaps that's what
I have found that starting them indoors in LARGE inverted drink cups and
transplanting them to the outside has been most effective for me, because of
my very short summer (latitude 50 N, zone 3) but if there is ANY root
disturbance during transplanting the plants are set back and never really
recover. In zone 7 I would work a lot of manure into their bed and just
plant them outside well separated from each other.
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