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Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Photography Garden Art Birds Region: New York
Herbs Container Gardener Annuals Dog Lover Butterflies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Garden10
Apr 2, 2017 9:59 AM CST
I don't grow anything from seed, because it almost always ends in tears, or three stringbeans. I have tried so many times to grow sunflowers, all different kinds except the very biggest, and they've never come up. I couldn't even grow Black Eyed Susans at a time when every toxic waste pile in the Jersey Meadowlands had them growing wild in waves. So I need your help.

I think it would make sense to have a border of sunflowers growing along one side of my property for so many reasons -- to attract and nurture the birds, butterflies and bees that have been avoiding me, for the beauty, and also to sort of screen my yard from the gentleman next door, who is a bit of a distance, thank God, but who is a little too nosy. I have the room here to grow a whole kickline of the kind with huge heads and stems like saplings. But what kind do you recommend? I do think squirrels have been the ones confounding me every time, and of course, in my wildlife-devoid yard, I've seen this morning every time I pass a window, two squirrels who I think are going to end the day writing a Penthouse letter. So please, any advice and recommendations would be very much appreciated. I tip my hat to you.
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
Apr 2, 2017 3:36 PM CST
Garden10 said:I don't grow anything from seed, because it almost always ends in tears, or three stringbeans. I have tried so many times to grow sunflowers, all different kinds except the very biggest, and they've never come up. I couldn't even grow Black Eyed Susans at a time when every toxic waste pile in the Jersey Meadowlands had them growing wild in waves. So I need your help.

I think it would make sense to have a border of sunflowers growing along one side of my property for so many reasons -- to attract and nurture the birds, butterflies and bees that have been avoiding me, for the beauty, and also to sort of screen my yard from the gentleman next door, who is a bit of a distance, thank God, but who is a little too nosy. I have the room here to grow a whole kickline of the kind with huge heads and stems like saplings. But what kind do you recommend? I do think squirrels have been the ones confounding me every time, and of course, in my wildlife-devoid yard, I've seen this morning every time I pass a window, two squirrels who I think are going to end the day writing a Penthouse letter. So please, any advice and recommendations would be very much appreciated. I tip my hat to you.


Hi @Garden10! I've had some luck with sunflowers and I absolutely love them. They do make a wonderful border.

I don't know the names of the variety you're mentioning (same that I grew), but most seed envelopes will print the approximate size of the flower head. I went with the biggest. There are some that have smaller flower heads, and they also usually produce more than one flower per stalk. The Mexican Sunflowers are smaller, but they're also more colorful. Here's the result of a Google search for "biggest sunflower variety." It's got lots of info: https://www.google.com/webhp?s...

I've had the best luck with starting sunflower seeds indoors in a warm area where there's some sun or a lot of light. I keep the soil very wet until I see the beginnings of the sprout at which point I just water them like any other potted plant. I transplant them outside after they have formed a two-inch stem, even if there's only one set of leaves. Make sure you transplant after the last possible frost date.

One of the biggest problems I've had is cutworms. I'll transplant the babies outside and they look lovely, and then the next morning, they're lying on the ground! UGH! The best solution I've found so far is to cut the bottom out of a tallish paper cup, and insert the cup into the ground so that it surrounds your newly-transplanted seedling. Push it into the ground about 2" deep. Out of many I've planted this way, I think I've only had one that succumbed to cutworm.

Once your beauties take off, be prepared! They're absolutely lovely but can be really, really huge! My neighbors called mine, "magic beanstalks!" Here are some pictures from last season. Good luck and please let us know how it goes!
Thumb of 2017-04-02/joannakat/6829c0 Thumb of 2017-04-02/joannakat/0cc8da Thumb of 2017-04-02/joannakat/e5450d

AKA Joey.
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Photography Garden Art Birds Region: New York
Herbs Container Gardener Annuals Dog Lover Butterflies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Garden10
Apr 2, 2017 5:33 PM CST
Hi Joanna, thank you! I don't know what kind of sunflowers I'm talking about either, I've seen them on OTHER people's properties, maybe 6-8 feet tall. But on the link you gave me, I saw the American Giant Hybrid, 16 feet tall, are they KIDDING?? At first, I thought I'd be embarrassed to have a line of those, and then I really got into that Jack in the Beanstalk reference (remember the Bugs Bunny version with the giant who says, aw, you tink you're pretty C-A-T smart?? OK, back to our regular programming.)

Yours are gorgeous, and I am going to take your advice about starting them inside, but please tell me, how far in advance should I start them before putting them in the ground? I won't plant them outside until May 15th. I will put those cutworm collars around them. I'll give them every chance. I'm going seed shopping tomorrow!!! Hurray!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
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McCannon
Apr 2, 2017 7:28 PM CST
@Garden10, I'm getting ready to plant mine. They're nothing special, just seeds from bird seed mix. Here's what I do:
https://garden.org/thread/view...

https://garden.org/thread/view...

I hope you have good luck with yours.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
Apr 2, 2017 7:55 PM CST
Garden10 said:Hi Joanna, thank you! I don't know what kind of sunflowers I'm talking about either, I've seen them on OTHER people's properties, maybe 6-8 feet tall. But on the link you gave me, I saw the American Giant Hybrid, 16 feet tall, are they KIDDING?? At first, I thought I'd be embarrassed to have a line of those, and then I really got into that Jack in the Beanstalk reference (remember the Bugs Bunny version with the giant who says, aw, you tink you're pretty C-A-T smart?? OK, back to our regular programming.)

Yours are gorgeous, and I am going to take your advice about starting them inside, but please tell me, how far in advance should I start them before putting them in the ground? I won't plant them outside until May 15th. I will put those cutworm collars around them. I'll give them every chance. I'm going seed shopping tomorrow!!! Hurray!

LOL!!! I would start them about two weeks in advance. As long as they have enough light and warmth, they'll be fine until you're ready to plant them outside. You can plant too many, and then if some die once outside, you'll have the number you want. If none die or get eaten, then you can thin them out as they get bigger.

Forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know, but don't feed them or use fertilizer until they're well established outside.

Good luck seed shopping--it's one of my favorite things to do! Be sure to update us too! Hurray!
AKA Joey.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
Image
joannakat
Apr 2, 2017 7:58 PM CST
McCannon said:@Garden10, I'm getting ready to plant mine. They're nothing special, just seeds from bird seed mix. Here's what I do:
https://garden.org/thread/view...

https://garden.org/thread/view...

I hope you have good luck with yours.


I've never tried that but it sounds easy! I use a lot of water until I see a bit of green sprout, and then I treat them like plants.
AKA Joey.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
Apr 2, 2017 8:00 PM CST
@Garden10, when you're ready to start feeding them, this will work wonders to encourage gorgeous flowers: http://www.miraclegro.com/smg/...
AKA Joey.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Critters Allowed Region: Arizona Xeriscape Greenhouse Annuals
Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad Adeniums Orchids Tropicals Plumerias
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plantmanager
Apr 2, 2017 8:02 PM CST
Thanks for all the sunflower info. I love them but have never grown any. I do have seeds of several different ones, so I'll try them this year and cross my fingers. We do have rabbits, deer and squirrel who will probably love them too. I'm just hoping there will be some left for me!
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Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
Apr 2, 2017 8:04 PM CST
LOL @Garden10, you've got me looking at pictures of those huge sunflowers and all I can think of is Little Shop of Horrors! Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
AKA Joey.
Name: Morgan
IL (Zone 5b)
Winter Sowing Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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molanic
Apr 3, 2017 10:00 AM CST
I've never started sunflowers indoors, because they grow so quickly direct sown outside. I've always direct sown them after my last frost date because I don't like having to harden things off that were started indoors. They like a warm, sunny, well-drained but a bit moist location. If you direct sow you just plant more than you think you want, but reserve some seeds to resow if necessary or stagger the sowing.

I love the look of a large number of big-headed sunflowers, but they don't look so hot after you get a summer storm. Wet soil and high winds makes them tip over and uproot quite easily. Now I only plant the giant ones if I can put them right next to a sturdy structure to tie them to.

A few times when I grew the "Russian Mammoth" or "Giant Grey Stripe" varieties most of the seeds didn't have any hearts in them. Lot of bees were on them all summer, but the seeds were all pretty much duds. Now I think I like the smaller head branching sunflowers better. They aren't as tippy and they look better to me.

Other easy plants with seeds the birds like a lot are coreopsis, zinnias, and echinacea. Stay away from the poofy double-flowered varieties of all of these though. Butterflies, bees, and birds want easy access to the nectar and seeds.
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Photography Garden Art Birds Region: New York
Herbs Container Gardener Annuals Dog Lover Butterflies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Garden10
Apr 3, 2017 10:42 AM CST
joannakat said:
Forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know, but don't feed them or use fertilizer until they're well established outside.

Rolling on the floor laughing
That's one sin you couldn't possibly commit!! I use Epsom salts as fertilizer, I hope they like it!

But I'm back from the store, and the winner is...Skyscraper Sunflower. Of course, I hadn't read Morgan's post before I left, so as I gaze into my crystal ball, I see a bunch of flopping sunflowers, but it's too late now. These are organic seeds from Hudson Valley Seed Co., shout out to Elena whose handle I forget for the recommendation of this company. They're listed as growing over 12 ft. in height, so we'll see. They have a Teddy Bear variety that I love too, and the Mexican sunflowers, but it annoys me that they only sell these in lots of 50, 75, 100 seeds. This pack has 50, it would have been nice to have a variety pack.

I almost bought ornamental corn, what was I thinking, thank God I remembered I had groceries in the car!

THIS is Elena's handle, @bxncbx, so shabby of me to take advantage of her help and not give her proper acknowledgment!



"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
[Last edited by Garden10 - Apr 15, 2017 4:42 PM (+)]
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Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Photography Garden Art Birds Region: New York
Herbs Container Gardener Annuals Dog Lover Butterflies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Garden10
Apr 3, 2017 10:54 AM CST
plantmanager said:Thanks for all the sunflower info. I love them but have never grown any. I do have seeds of several different ones, so I'll try them this year and cross my fingers. We do have rabbits, deer and squirrel who will probably love them too. I'm just hoping there will be some left for me!


Hi Karen, that's going to be part of the test for me, trying to balance what may or may not be coming into my yard. They're welcome to the seed, I'm planting these for them, but I don't want them to destroy the plants. Picky, huh? I've seen more tracks than actual animals, so who knows? Shrug!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Photography Garden Art Birds Region: New York
Herbs Container Gardener Annuals Dog Lover Butterflies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Image
Garden10
Apr 3, 2017 10:59 AM CST
McCannon said:@Garden10, I'm getting ready to plant mine. They're nothing special, just seeds from bird seed mix. Here's what I do:
https://garden.org/thread/view...

https://garden.org/thread/view...

I hope you have good luck with yours.


Thank you Mac, I had a paper egg carton that I just recycled and I was kicking myself for doing it, but as it turns out, I'll be using more than 12 seeds -- this should be a stitch. That's fantastic that you produced those seedlings from bird feed. I'm going to hang a sunflower seed bird feeder as soon as it arrives, and five will get you ten that none of the sunflowers I started will come up, but a couple that were sown by clumsy birds will!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
Image
McCannon
Apr 3, 2017 11:38 AM CST
@Garden10, I started mine in the top of the carton, rather than in the cups. I probably have 30-40 seeds coming up. I was curious, when I started a few, to see if they were viable. Almost all germinated so I started the ones in the picture. The ones growing in the pots were from my original test. Give it a try Thumbs up . If you don't have vermiculite you can use sand. Just make sure it stays moist.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
Image
joannakat
Apr 3, 2017 11:42 AM CST
No worries if you don't use all the seeds in the pack. They seem to keep very well for years! My first wonderful batch came from seeds I was given over 5 years before I planted them! They were a freebie giveaway at some event or other. And OMG, they came up beautifully.

Abby, since you've had bad luck in the past and the natural methods of seeding seem to be working in your area, maybe consider skipping the epsom salts and other fertilizers entirely this time? I assure you that, if your seeds are viable, they will sprout beautifully with only soil and water and nothing else. Maybe get a bit of outdoor soil from an area where the birds are having lots of success?

Oh, and I know this sounds silly, but be sure to talk to them every day! Tell them you love them and can't wait to see them and how beautiful they will grow to be. Angel
AKA Joey.
Name: Julie
Seattle (Zone 8a)
Birds Hummingbirder Region: Pacific Northwest
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Joolie
Apr 7, 2017 2:29 PM CST
If all else fails, you can just dump an enormous pile of sunflower seeds (cheap kind of course) on the ground for your local squirrel to find. After she eats her fill, she'll plant the rest ALL OVER your yard and then forget about the majority of them. I had so many sunflowers come up last year! Most of them were in my lawn, mind, but she did manage to plant some in my raised beds so I actually got some flowers.

If you have a local squirrel you kind of have very little choice but to sow them indoors. I thought I was clever by sprouting mine (I didn't want to harden them off, see) and then planted the barely sprouted ones.

The next morning I caught the squirrel enjoying freshly sprouted fancy sunflower seeds. Grumbling (Hubby is so used to me yelling at the squirrel by now, he just comes over to watch the show and laugh at me.)

Sooo, indoor growing it is. I guess I have so many other things to harden off it doesn't make THAT much of a difference. I guess. Sigh. Darn youuuuu, squirrels!
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Photography Garden Art Birds Region: New York
Herbs Container Gardener Annuals Dog Lover Butterflies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Garden10
Apr 7, 2017 3:14 PM CST
Joolie, this is my first spring and full summer here, so I can only go by what's happened in the past elsewhere. I won't scatter seed like that, because my last two homes had a side border that people refer to as "weed tree," although I don't see anything "weedy" about something that takes in carbon dioxide and spits out oxygen! They were useful because it provided a screen again lousy neighbors, but it's different here. And it's a pain in the neck to deal with.This property is pretty bare, so I want to keep some measure of control without being anal, and I have a good chance, because I'm actually oral compulsive!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: Larry
Hill Country TX (Zone 8b)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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ricelg
Apr 22, 2017 7:05 PM CST
I started 2 different kinds of sunflowers from seed this winter and then transplanted them outside last month. I think I had them inside a little too long as I thought they were getting leggy. Transplanted into a nice sunny spot and they've thrived in the sun, even when I had to do a second transplant on 2 of them. Good luck!
Name: Stewart
Pinehurst, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Plumerias Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Garden Ideas: Level 1 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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PlantMania
May 2, 2017 8:43 AM CST
This is the first time I have ever grown sunflowers. I had my grandsons plant some seeds awhile back in Jan, Feb time frame (I REALLLLLLY NEED TO KEEP A JOURNAL). Every time we go out to the garden I remind them that they were the ones that planted these flowers. The 4 yr old always says that he is going to give them to mommy :)


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Oma and Opa
Living to Learn
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Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
May 2, 2017 11:41 AM CST
OMG @PlantMania, they're so beautiful they don't even look real! Congratulations!
AKA Joey.

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