How to Care for Sunflowers: Summer's Favourite Bloom

How to Care for Sunflowers: Summer's Favourite Bloom

An iconic summer bloom, sunflowers effortlessly brighten anyone's day. Here's how you can keep them happy and healthy in a vase and in the garden.

An iconic summer flower, sunflowers are always bound to brighten the home as much as anyone’s day.

Like all flowers, sunflowers need proper care to ensure longevity in the garden as well as within your home.

So, if you’re wondering how to take care of sunflowers, this is your ultimate guide to keeping these sunny blooms happy and healthy both in the garden and in a vase.

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sunflowers in a vase

How to Care for Sunflowers in a Vase

If you're anything like us, sunflowers make you extremely happy!

Whether you've been gifted a bunch by someone who loves you, have picked your own up from the market or even cut some fresh from the garden, it's good to know how to keep sunflowers alive for as long as possible.

Here are our top cut sunflower care tips:

  • Trim your sunflower stems before placing them in water. Using a clean, sharp knife, secateurs or scissors, slice your sunflower stems at a slight angle to increase surface area for water uptake

  • Remove any leaves that will sit below the waterline in your vase, as these will cause bacteria to grow and your sunflowers to wilt faster

  • Mix quality flower food in with the water, as this will help preserve your sunflowers while also inhibiting bacterial growth

  • Don’t forget to change the vase water every day and retrim the stems by 1 or 2cm, to maintain water uptake and prevent bacterial growth 

  • Since they have large heads, sunflowers are vulnerable to drooping. Ensure you sure a tall vase that can support their weight and keep their long stems stable

sunflower in a garden

How to Care for Sunflowers in the Garden

Of course, sunflowers in your garden will require a lot more patience and care to keep them happy and healthy.

While we aren't gardeners, these are our top tips to maintaining garden sunflowers: 

Water sunflowers daily

Because sunflowers can tolerate the drought and heat of warmer climates, you might be asking: do sunflowers need lots of water?

The answer is: yes! Now you're probably wondering how often to water sunflowers. We can answer that as well.

Sunflower seeds need to be watered daily, but be sure not to soak the soil.

As soon as the bud flowers, water the sunflowers once a week; infrequent, deep watering is more beneficial than frequent, shallow watering.

You want to be pouring water, with a watering can or with a hose, roughly 7.5–10cm from the plant itself. This contributes to strong sunflower growth.

Offer enough sunlight

If their name wasn't enough of a hint, sunflowers love the sun!

You may have heard that sunflowers follow the sun's movement across the sky. This is called 'heliotropism', and it mostly occurs in juvenile sunflowers, happening less as the sunflowers mature.

You want to be giving sunflowers at least 6 to 8 hours of sun per day, so be sure to plant your seeds in your sunniest location. 

Fertilise the soil

When considering how to care for sunflowers in your garden, the soil is just as important as sunlight. With sunflower seeds, the soil needs to drain well and be fertilised properly.

Add compost or slow-release fertiliser to the soil, but not too close to the base of the plant. You don’t want to overdo it on the nitrogen!

Roots will also need sufficient room to grow outwards and maintain a foundation as they grow upward, as this will prevent strong winds from damaging them.

Protect sunflowers from pests

It’s common sense to prevent pests such as slugs, snails, birds, and squirrels when caring for sunflowers, but you need to take the right measures to protect your brilliant blooms.

Use repellents such as ammonia or vegetable oil spray, create traps or secure your flowers with wired fencing.

Once the flowers reach maturity, they'll start to dry out and their seeds will attract birds. To protect your sunflowers from the likes of corellas and crows, consider covering them with netting.

Keep an eye on the leaves

Shrunken, yellow leaves can be a sign of fungus, mineral deficiency, or bacterial infection in sunflowers, so keep an eye out.

If it’s a fungus, ensure to cut the leaves back to stop any spreading, and use fungicide for future prevention.

Keep them safe from wild weather

As durable as these flowers are once matured, extreme weather is still capable of taking them down. Strong winds can cause these tall, top-heavy blooms to topple and become uprooted.

Hammer bamboo poles or rods into the soil, and carefully tie each sunflower to the stake with non-abrasive string.

This will help keep your beautiful, summery blooms secure and safe from the storm.

How many varieties of sunflowers are there?

There are 70 different sunflower species in the genus Helianthus. This genus is part of the Asteraceae flower family, which also includes the likes of daisies, chrysanthemums, dahlias and asters.

All flowers in this family are what's known as composite flowers, meaning they're actually made up of many, many smaller flowers known as ray florets (the petals) or disc florets (the central disc), appearing as one big flower.

Some of the different sunflower varieties include:

giant sunflower

Giant sunflowers

As the name suggests, giant sunflowers produce those dinnerplate-size flower heads we all know and love!

Examples include Mammoth Sunflowers (Helianthus giganteus), Skyscraper Sunflowers and Giant Russian Sunflowers, which can all grow to be up to 12ft or three metres tall with flower heads sometimes reaching upwards of 50cm in diameter!

The Guinness World Record for the tallest sunflower ever was broken only recently in 2014 by a German gardener. The new tallest sunflower ever recorded reached an incredible 30ft and 1 inch tall!

Meanwhile, the largest flower head recorded in a sunflower was 32 and 1/4 inches in diameter, grown in Canada in 1983.

dwarf sunflowers frankie posy

Dwarf sunflowers

Do you have a small garden or prefer to grow your sunflowers in a pot? Dwarf sunflowers are for you.

The complete opposite of the traditional giant sunflower, dwarf sunflowers can be bi-coloured, double-bloomed, pollen-free and possess multiple flower clusters per plant.

Dwarf sunflowers are the ones you'll most commonly find in floral arrangements, like our Rayya Bouquet and our Frankie Posy.

Popular dwarf sunflower examples include Elf Sunflowers, Double Dandy Sunflowers, Sunbright Supreme Sunflowers and Firecracker Sunflowers.

teddy bear sunnies

Double sunflowers

With a fluffier texture than other sunflower types, double sunflowers can last a lot longer and usually contain minimal pollen.

Looking more like chrysanthemums than sunflowers, double sunflowers are the perfect way to brighten up your home or garden with something a little more unique.

Examples of double sunflowers include Teddy Bear Sunflowers and Double Dazzlers.

perennial sunflowers

Perennial sunflowers

Most of us think of sunflowers as standalone flowers on a single stem. But there are actually sunflowers that clump together in small, dense bunches as well. And while standalone sunflowers are annuals (meaning they'll only flower once), these bushy varieties are perennials, so they'll bloom again year after year from the same plant.

Examples of perennial sunflowers include the Lemon Queen and First Light varieties.

orange sunflower

Specialty sunflowers

Did you know that sunflowers aren't all golden-petaled?

There are some specialty sunflower types that have orange, crimson and even pink petals. Some are even two-toned!

Examples of specialty sunflowers are Ring of Fire, Strawberry Blonde, Velvet Queen and Moulin Rouge.

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Buy Sunflowers at Floraly

At Floraly, we understand the importance of caring for sunflowers during the summer season. But more than this, we know just how much joy sunflowers can bring to your loved ones.

Whether you're sending sunflowers for a birthday, to say thanks or simply just because you want to brighten someone's day, you can't go wrong with sunflowers from Floraly. 

Check out our Sunflowers & Sunflower Bouquets collection, and send joy to someone you care about today.

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