The sunflower (Heliantus year) belongs to the family of Asteraceae. This bee plant which is grown as an annual does not go unnoticed with its grosses inflorescences carried by huge straight stems, and its ability to always turn towards the sun to make the most of the light energy essential for photosynthesis. We like to sow sunflowers in our gardens, in town and in the country, for their highly decorative asset honored so well by Van Gogh and their ease of cultivationincluding in a jar. Let’s see how to sow or plant and maintain sunflowers in order to take advantage of their extraordinary flowers grouped in flower heads.
The Sunflower, which used to be called Héliante and which we call among other things garden sun can be obtained easily through seedlings.
We can sow under cover Sunflower from the month of mars. For some sowing in placeit is of course essential to patients until the risk of frost has completely passed. But it doesn’t matter if you wait until May, because this fast-growing plant germinates shortly after sowing. It is therefore recommended to sow directly in the ground, by proceeding as follows.
- Prepare the soil by digging deeply to obtain loose soil.
- Draw furrows to a depth of 3 cm.
- Dig small holes every 20 cm.
- Place 3 or 4 sunflower seeds in each hole. This is called the semis in poquets.
- Cover the holes with loosened soil.
- Water in fine rain so as not to dig up the seeds.
You can certainly buy in garden centers Sunflower seedlings in pots. In this case they must be transplanted in place between the end of April and the beginning of June.
Le Tournesol particularly appreciates being installed in sunny location and in a rich soil, non compact. A good topsoil suits him perfectly if it is sufficiently drained because he hates excess humidity.
People who do not have a garden have the possibility of growing sunflowers in pots, preferably the smaller varieties. It is necessary to opt for containers fully drilledand whose depth is a minima from 30 to 35 cm. A good soil is very suitable for the Héliante and the installation of a stake is strongly recommended. The procedure is simple since all you have to do is place 4 Sunflower seeds per pot, keep the substrate moist and wait until the seedlings have formed 4 leaves to keep only the most robust.
Caring for the Sunflower
Easy to grow, the species Helianthus annuus can happily reach 3-4 meters in height without great care requirements.
Watering should be regular, without excess however because the Sunflower hates soggy soil. It is very important to do not let dry the soil or the substrate because drought is not his cup of tea either. Vigilance is even more essential in summer when the rains are infrequent and the temperatures are very high, especially for a potted Sunflower because the substrate there dries out particularly quickly. As soon as it is dry on the surface, it must be watered.
As we have seen, the Sunflower in a pot needs to be staked, but this is also the case when grown in the ground, especially if it is located in a windy region. Staking mainly concerns the tallest sunflower species.
Putting a mulch at the foot of the sunflowers helps to keep the soil cool and limits the development of weeds.
As soon as it is planted in rich soil, it is not not necessary to add fertilizer.
In autumn, the annual varieties must be pulled out. Of course, uprooting does not concern perennial varieties. There are indeed a few species to leave in the ground, such as the ten-petalled Heliante (Helianthus decapetalus) which blooms from late August until frost. It sports a well-branched port and does not exceed 1.60 m in height.
Pests and diseases
With regard to parasites, a few aphids can settle on the Tournesol. Ladybug larvae are enough to eradicate these insects naturally. We must also be wary of the greediness of slugs and snails for the young leaves which are particularly tender. A little sand around the plants limits the progression of gastropods. In the event of a severe attack, it is possible to use an anti-slug.
The Sunflower is a resistant plant, little prone to disease. It can, however, be reached by mildew which forms spots on the foliage. We can prevent this fungal disease caused by a pathogenic fungus by spacing out its Sunflowers sufficiently, by installing them in well-drained soil and by avoiding atmospheres that are too humid. In the event of an attack, it is necessary to treat quickly either with Bordeaux mixturean excellent fungicide, and remove and then burn all parts affected by the disease.
Well known for his sunny yellow bloomSunflower comes in many varieties, some with orange flowers others of one brownish red. We can therefore marry the species in order to obtain attractive shades. It is necessary to fold back as and when the stems bearing faded flowers. This is essential to encourage new flowering.
These big suns that illuminate gardens and terraces are composed in their center of florets and all around ligules. These are sterile. The seeds of sunflowers are produced by the florets.
We can therefore easily recover the seeds at maturity from the end of September in order to carry out new sowings, year after year. To do this, simply cut the heads and then store them in a non-humid place to dry them. In less than a week, the well-dried seeds can be collected.
Note also that the seeds of l’Helianthus annuus are groceries. Nothing prevents you from incorporating it into homemade bread dough when baking. It is these same seeds that are used to extract Sunflower oil.