Sunflower

(Helianthus annuus) Sunflower is an annual member of the aster family. Choose tall, multi-branching varieties as a stunning landscape flower, or short dwarf single-head varieties for cut flower production. Native to North America, sunflower has been a popular cultivated plant of the indigenous tribes of North America since at least 3000 B.C. Some archaeologists contend that the sunflower was cultivated before maize. Direct seed after all chance of frost has passed, and soil has reliably warmed. You can start indoors 3 to 4 weeks before transplanting, but be careful not to let plants become pot bound. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days. Planting depth will vary depending on seed size as sunflower seed sizes range widely. A general rule of thumb is to plant seeds twice their own width; so a seed that is 1/2 inch wide should be planted 1 inch deep. Most sunflowers are planted at 1 inch deep. Ideal germination temperature is 70-75 F. Space plants 6-8 inches apart. Sunflowers prefer full sun and light, well-drained soil. Excessive nitrogen will hinder blooming.

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