Growing decorative sunflower from seeds
Under decorative sunflowers most often mean annual helianthus. A large selection of varieties and forms, simple and terry, but invariably dazzling seasonal stars, is just one of the reasons for the continued popularity of sunflowers. After all, these plants are so easy to propagate that even inexperienced gardeners can grow the guardians of summer. The right choice of place, timely sowing and care of young plants - that's all you need to enjoy the luxurious sunflower heads on your flower garden.
- Self-collection of sunflower seeds and their selection for sowing
- A place for sowing decorative sunflowers
- Dates of sowing decorative sunflower in the soil
- Sowing seeds of decorative sunflower
- Care for young shoots of decorative sunflower
- Growing ornamental sunflowers through seedlings
Annual sunflowers are one of the most popular seasonal plants. Their appearance is well known both to gardeners and those who do not grow plants on their own. The largest basket inflorescences of all possible are easily recognized even in the company of crops related to the type of flowering. But understanding the diversity of annual sunflowers is far from simple as identifying their luxurious heads on a flower bed. On bags with seeds, they often do not specify the type of sunflower and label the seeds simply as Helianthus, although the annual representatives of the genus and all their varieties have long been combined into a species annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus) The flowering of annual sunflowers traditionally lasts from July to October. One-stemmed annuals with thick erect shoots, crowning on the tops of strikingly large baskets of inflorescences with a diameter of 5 to 36 cm, sunflowers are easily recognized. And not only in the classically large center of the numerous tubular or arranged in strict rows of reed flowers, but also in the bristly-pubescent, rough to the touch, inimitably wrinkled, heart-shaped serrate leaves alternately on the petioles, saturated color, as well as beautiful bracts around the basket, and by the power of its peduncles.
Annual sunflowers also have dwarf ones, only half a meter high, or even lower, varieties and real giants. Decorative forms (variegated, round bloated, round multi-flowered, California) and hundreds of different varieties allow you to choose annual sunflowers to your liking. Yellow, orange, red, white, brown, variations of one-color or two-and three-color color, different degrees of terry and semi-terry, size of the center and location and even the shape of the petals significantly affect the decorativeness of sunflowers and the possibility of their use. But all this diversity has no effect on the reproduction of annual sunflowers. They are grown only from seeds and often do not use seedlings, but the simplest method is to sow directly at the place of cultivation, that is, immediately into the soil.
Sunflower propagation methods:
- Sowing directly at the place of cultivation in the spring.
- Sowing seedlings in early spring.
Self-collection of sunflower seeds and their selection for sowing
Even the most fashionable varieties of sunflowers give abundant self-sowing, but collecting seeds of your favorite varieties from this plant is not difficult. Obverse ovoid faceted achenes in flat baskets easily make it possible to assess the degree of seed ripening (by their darkening).
The most difficult thing in collecting seeds of decorative sunflowers is to protect the crop from birds that adore to enjoy seeds even of annual varieties. As the seeds of the inflorescence, from which they plan to harvest, are formed, they must be tied with a net, a transparent cloth or gauze to prevent the birds from reaching the precious seeds. After cutting the heads, the seeds are not removed from the fruit, but they are allowed to dry completely. You can store seeds without removing them from baskets, and in a "pure" form.
Seeds of decorative sunflowers retain their germination capacity for a very long time: even in the third or fourth year after harvesting, annual sunflowers germinate, albeit not with a yield of 90%, but quite amicably.
The main thing in buying seeds of varieties and mixes of decorative sunflowers is to choose trusted producers. Too cheap seeds of dubious firms may not give a single shoot at all. Pay attention to the completeness of information about the manufacturer, study its reputation, average prices in the market. For the rest, you can focus only on the height and aesthetic qualities of inflorescences. Before sowing, the seeds are sorted, discarding damaged and small ones (if you wish, they can be sown separately for the experiment).
A place for sowing decorative sunflowers
The very name of helianthus directly indicates the conditions under which these delightfully summer flowers prefer to grow. Annual sunflowers are the same sun worshipers as ordinary sowing or perennial helianthus. They need the brightest, most open, sunny areas. For low varieties of sunflowers, the windiness is not terrible, but for high and especially giant sunflowers, up to 3 m high or planted in borders and screens, you need to choose protected, warm, windproof areas. Even in miniature varieties with a height of about 30 cm, smaller and not so bright inflorescences develop in windy places.
Much more attention should be paid to soil parameters. For annual sunflowers, it should be light and loose. Sandy sandstones are preferable, but if sand is added to improve the structure, helianthus can grow both on loam and clay soil. Wet or fresh soils with a high content of nutrients will allow the helianthus to fully demonstrate its beauty for one year. Annual sunflowers cannot tolerate salinization of soil and acidic environment.
Sunflowers are not grown non-stop in the same place, after nightshade, legumes and beets.
Dates of sowing decorative sunflower in the soil
In regions where the soil warms up early, the choice of possible planting dates and stretching the sowing period for several months allows you to increase the flowering period for almost the entire season. Sowing sunflower in the south can be done in autumn, before winter, at the end of March-April.
In regions with severe winters, annual sunflowers are traditionally sown at the end of April in favorable weather, but more often - only in May. It is not necessary to be afraid of early sowing: despite the fact that the sunflowers themselves are not cold-resistant and wither with the advent of frost, seedlings perfectly tolerate return frosts of -6 degrees, which makes it possible to sow decorative sunflower somewhat earlier than ordinary summers. Typically, plants are recommended to be sown when the soil warms up to approximately 10 degrees Celsius.
In any case, “stretching” the sowing is necessary, dividing the seeds into portions for sowing with an interval of 1 week. If you carry out the rest of decorative sunflowers even throughout the summer, then the parade of sunflowers will continue until the first frost and will be uninterrupted.
Sowing seeds of decorative sunflower
In the process of sowing decorative varieties of sunflowers, there is nothing complicated. You can soak the seeds in water for a day and pickle in fungicides (even in a weak solution of potassium permanganate) to increase resistance to pests and diseases. With a limited number of seeds, it is advisable to germinate on a damp napkin or paper towel, by carefully pinching or cutting off the top of the seeds to accelerate germination.
Seeds are sown in grooves or in individual pits, deepening them by about 2-4 cm (maximum deepening, not affecting the development of sprouts, is 5 cm). It is advisable to sow decorative sunflower seeds sparingly to avoid the need to thin out seedlings. Typically, the seeds are laid out in 2-3 pieces at a distance of 30 cm for undersized to 70 cm for the highest sunflowers.
The first shoots of annual sunflowers usually appear within a week after sowing.
After the shoots appear and grow stronger, the extra plants are removed, leaving the strongest.
Flowering from May crops can be expected in July. But it’s much easier to focus on the length of the growing season: annual sunflowers will bloom in 75, in extreme cases, 90 days.
Care for young shoots of decorative sunflower
Sunflower can be affected by birds, snails and even rodents long before emergence and at the stage of germination. From slugs and snails it is better to immediately decompose the bait, but you can save sunflower crops from birds by simply covering the soil with a net or a film.
Despite the status of sun worshipers, attributing decorative sunflowers to drought-tolerant plants would be a big mistake. They are hygrophilous and the beauty of flowering depends on watering. Drought during the period of active development of greenery and flower stalk necessarily affects flowering, so watering is provided already from the stage of young shoots. Waterlogging, dampness of the soil are dangerous to the same extent as the complete drying of the soil. Watering is carried out when there is not enough rainfall, about 1 time per week in heat and drought, soaking the soil to the entire depth of the helianthus roots.
Fertilizing for sunflower, provided that the soil is sufficiently nutritious, can be omitted altogether. If the soil has not been improved, then about a month after the emergence of seedlings, you can feed the sunflowers with nitrogen fertilizers, and at the stage of budding and flowering with full mineral or potassium-phosphorus fertilizers.
High varieties of sunflower are best tied to supports as they grow, especially if the plants are still planted in windy areas. A simple peg is enough for sunflowers.
In adult annual sunflowers, further care comes down to several procedures:
- loosening the soil;
- weed removal;
- removal of faded bushes (if you kept inflorescences, you should not hurry with cutting, because sunflower will not only decorate autumn and winter flower beds, but will also serve as an additional source of food for birds).
Removing fading flowers from sunflowers speeds up the blooming of new buds and prevents the drooping of flower heads. If you grow plants for cutting, then it is really better to cut off inflorescences in a timely manner (with the exception of a few "heads" left to collect seeds). But if you simply decorate the garden with sunflower and place accents, then leave as many inflorescences as possible: they will serve useful birds in the garden no worse than regular filling of feeders. Yes, and your look will please.
Growing ornamental sunflowers through seedlings
The soil for sowing annual sunflowers is suitable standard, universal, nutritious and loose, but not with a slightly acidic, but a neutral or slightly alkaline reaction. But containers need to be given more attention: sunflowers do not like transplants, in order to avoid root injuries it is better to sow them in individual cups or peat pots.
Sowing seeds is carried out depending on the desired period of planting in the soil. Since the grown seedlings are frost-free, planting can be carried out only at the end of May-June, and sowing seeds at the end of April or beginning of May (20-25 days before planting at a permanent place). But the main thing you need to focus on is the intensity of lighting, the ability to organize backlighting.
Seeds are sown 2-3 pcs in personal cups, removing weaker plants from the emerged shoots. Germinate sunflower under glass or film, sowing is carried out to a depth of 1.5-2 cm in moist soil. Any temperature is suitable for germination within the framework of room indicators, but the lighting should be very bright.
Growing sunflower seedlings is not an easy task. With a lack of light, the plants turn out weak, the stems bend, the plant stretches out and sometimes does not look like itself. For sunflower, only a place on the southern windowsill or with light is suitable. Soil moisture should be consistently light. Feeding is not carried out. Harden seedlings should be started as early as possible.
Planting of decorative sunflowers grown through seedlings is possible only at the end of May or June, after the threat of return frosts disappears. Plants are planted in the same way as they were sown in open soil, at a distance of 30-70 cm. The earthen lump around the roots cannot be destroyed. For young seedlings, care is similar to care for young seedlings.