Sunflowers are versatile plants with many wonderful uses…
I grow sunflowers mainly because I love to feed and attract birds into my yard. Songbirds and woodpeckers especially adore sunflower seeds and will come to visit often if you offer them sunflower seeds. I also grow sunflowers because because the roasted seeds are a real treat to eat! Not to mention, sunflowers are very cheery and they just make me feel happy when I look at them while working hard in the garden on a hot summer day.
Additionally, sunflowers make excellent cut flower arrangements and are a nice way to decorate your home on a budget. And, if that wasn’t enough … the bright and vibrant colors of sunflowers help attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to your garden.
Sunflowers are also a wonderful way to get children into the art of gardening. Sunflowers love hot weather and they aren’t picky or difficult to grow. My children started growing their own little sunflower patches from seed when they were only preschoolers. They were amazed that such a small seed could become such a tall, beautiful plant! With just a little dirt, water, and sun, your children or grandchildren will be growing sunflowers with ease. Of course, you’ll need to provide some adult supervision, but it’s well worth the payback when you see the smiles on their faces.
*Plant in a sunny location.
*Plant in raised beds, garden beds, and even containers.
*Sow your seed directly, approximately one inch deep after all threat of frost is gone.
*Offer support for the tall stems, or plant them close together for natural support. The standard rule of thumb is to plant them 12 inches apart, but I like to plant mine closer, about 6-8 inches apart to allow the plants to support one another.
*Cut mature flowers as often as you want and quickly put them into water to discourage wilting.
*To harvest seeds, allow the flower heads to dry out first.
*Lightly rub the head of the sunflower to push out the seeds.
Roasted sunflower seeds is an easy, healthy treat. First, soak the harvested seeds in salt water overnight. Then drain and pat dry. Place them on a baking sheet and roast at 300 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. You will want to stir or turn them every 10 minutes while roasting. Some people like to coat their sunflower seeds with butter or coconut oil while roasting, but that’s totally optional. You can also add seasoning salt if desired.