Community Greens

People of all colors discussing evergreen ideas.

Sunflowers & Butterflies: Growing Sunflowers


Sunflowers make a bold statement in a garden with mammoths being up to 9’ tall and flowers the size of dinner plates but they are truly easy to grow giants. All they really need is lots of sun and some TLC. Here is the Community Green Growing Sunflowers Tip Sheet.

  • Buy seeds in packets or get seeds from a friend, neighbor or fellow gardener. Select a variety that will suit your likes and needs. Sunflowers come in many different varieties and can be grown in garden beds or pots.
  • Plant the seeds outside after the last frost date. Sunflowers do not transplant well.
  • Plants the seeds where there is full sun all day. As their name implies, they require lots of sun.
  • Plant the seeds to a depth of ½” and cover with fine soil. Water generously and thereafter provide moderate moisture.
  • If you are growing in rows in a bed, space 2-3 seeds every 12-18”.
  • If you are growing in a planter box or pot, plant about 4 to 8 seeds.
  • It is better to plant fewer sunflowers if you don’t have much room because the more they compete for nutrients, the less strong each individual plant will be.
  • Seeds germinate in 7-10 days, depending on weather conditions.
  • Snip off the weaker shoots when they are 2-3”. Keep the area weed free and keep watering.
  • Taller plants are more drought resistant and need less water after they are about 3’ tall.
  • Sunflowers don’t not need much maintenance and grow quickly. They reach maturity in about 90 days.
  • Mulch will help keep the weeds down, make watering less demanding and keep the area below the tall stalks attractive.
  • Weeds compete for nutrients when sunflowers are small but are not really a problem once they reach 3’ feet tall.
  • Consider staking larger variety sunflowers to help them grow taller, survive strong winds and prevent them from being knocked over.
  • You can harvest sunflower seeds. Just snip off the ripe flower head and gently wipe it across a clean cloth. The seeds will fall from the flower head and collect on the cloth.
  • Enjoy your sunflowers and the birds and butterflies they bring to your garden.



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