All about growing sunflower seeds
- 58 sunflower seed varieties
- A single sunflower can contain as many as 2,000 seeds
- Varieties for every blooming season
- A beautiful and edible flower
the history of sunflowers
A North American native that was first domesticated more than 2000 years ago, the sunflower has been the subject of fascination for growers and observers alike. To the Native Americans it was a source not only of nourishment, but of medicine and building material. The Aztecs offered the golden blossoms to their god of war, and then to the Spanish conquistadors as a symbol of alliance. The Spanish took the flower to Europe, and from there it was taken to Russia, where it was cultivated for food and oil. It was not until the 19th century that interest in the sunflower returned to mainstream North American society. Since then, it has been a commercial crop, a garden favorite, and beloved of artists like Oscar Wilde, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent Van Gogh. Sunflowers are still grown today in Claude Monet's garden at Giverny.
how and when to plant sunflower seeds
To grow your own sunflowers, plant seeds in late spring or early summer. Sunflowers prefer loose, well-drained soil, and need six to eight hours of full sunlight each day. Succession planting will ensure that new plants are always blooming. Water established sunflower plants heavily once a week. Taller plants may require supports in order to stay upright.
Onions can help repel pests that might feed on sunflowers, while sunflowers distract aphids from tomato plants (and the tomatoes attract pollinators to the sunflower). Heavy-stemmed varieties like Eden Brothers' Black Russian Sunflower Seeds can offer support to vining plants. Plant Eden Brothers' Autumn Beauty Sunflower Seeds or Skyscraper Sunflower Seeds along fence lines for a splash of color or a little privacy, or add Maximillian Sunflower Seeds and Ox Eye Sunflower Seeds to prairie and wildflower gardens. Whatever variety you choose, these long treasured beauties are sure to be a hit!
harvesting sunflower seeds and blooms
Sunflowers can be cut for arrangements as soon as blossoms have fully opened. To harvest seeds, allow the sunflower to remain on the stalk until the petals have dropped off and the seed head has dried completely. Seeds can then be easily removed by hand, or complete seed heads can be tied to fences and posts or left in place as winter forage for birds and squirrels.
For more information about planting, growing, and caring for sunflower seed, see our Sunflower Seed Planting Guide.