Why grow sunflowers
As we mourn what’s happening in Ukraine, we can honor its struggle against Russian invaders by growing sunflowers. Ukraine had the highest production volume of sunflower seeds of any county in the 2021/2022 crop year. It produced about 17.5 million metric tons. I tried to do the math. Let’s just say it’s a lot of pounds. In our gardens this summer, let sunflowers remind us of Ukraine and to be grateful for our precious freedoms. They don’t come easily.
How to grow sunflowers
The best way to grow sunflowers is from seed. Sunflowers resent being transplanted and having their roots disturbed. This annual is easy peasy to grow from seed. Sow seeds when the soil is warm, about 60 degrees F. That’s in early to late May in Indiana. Follow the seed packet instructions and water as needed.
You have dozens of sunflowers to choose from: Short ones like Teddy Bear, medium size like Italian White, and American Giant, which lives up to its name, are just a few. Plant the tall ones near a fence or other structure to give them a little support.
As if on cue, All-America Selections has named Concert Bell sunflower a 2022 National Winner. It grows as a column with bunches of sunflowers along the stem.
Those that have good branching characteristics are great for cutting. Be mindful that pollen can stain clothes and tablecloths, so give the flower a good shaking before bringing indoors.
Also remember that birds and other wildlife like sunflowers, too, especially the seeds. Seeds will have to be harvested for people to use.