I have about a 200 sq ft area that I want to plant just in sunflowers for the bees and birds. How do I go about planting the area for the best results? Should I germinate the seeds prior to planting? Should I toss the seeds and rake over? Any help would be appreciated, seeing as I can't seem to find any info about it elsewhere.
Assuming you're planting annuals, spacing should be 18-24 inches, according to my references (books and internet). Perennials (like jerusalem artichoke) farther apart. Plant seeds in place, one inch deep. I'll be planting some too as soon as my seeds arrive in the mail.
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Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
posted 7 years ago
How I'd go about it really depends on how many seeds I had. I grow Mammoth Grey Striped, and I hand planted each seed the first year cause I only had a few packets.
I usually plant them about 1/2" deep and make sure to cover them. Around here the birds would eat anything I just broadcast out on the soil. And I would direct-sow them... they don't like to be transplanted.
Sunflowers are very forgiving. If you don't want to hand plant them (which doesn't take too long), you can make seed balls about the size of a grape and scatter 'em. Then cover with a mulch. I would also consider growing beans or another vining crop up them once they get established (about a foot tall or so).
I just scatter my sunflower seeds on loose ground and rake. Depending on your soil, you may want to sprinkle some compost on prior...or you can scatter your seeds then sprinkle compost on top and not rake. Like Joshua, I find them very forgiving.
I do lots of transplanting of sunflowers, and have never found them tough other than when root balled or have not developed enough roots. I usally start a cold frame with them broad casted, racked in with lid cracked to allow some breeze or they get leggy. When transplanting I move them like a sod clump with a shovel. Pre water plant and fill hole with water allow to drain, break off transplant, water them in... no problems. Hot sunny day not recommended. I usally space foot apart. I have grown them the last ten years just like this. Also in the fall when birds start feeding off the flowers, remove have eaten head place in any location you wish to have volunteers the next spring.
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if you want to grow things for the birds and bees, plant more than just sunflowers. try 5 types of sunflower, add some amaranth which the bees love, plants with small seeds, big seeds, small blooms big blooms. you will attract more species of birds and insects this way too.
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