A hardy tropical flowering plant that requires less maintenance and feeds on lots of sunshine - sounds perfect for bringing into any Indian home.
If you're looking for a flowering plant that will thrive in our hot and humid Indian climate, the sunflower is the one to go with.
Sunflowers symbolize happiness, devotion, loyalty, and adoration. The bright yellow bloom will always cheer you up. Also, this plant gives us sunflower oil and sunflower seeds!
But this flower is more than just radiating beauty and feeding humans and animals!
Well, their job description says sunflowers can absorb toxins from metal and nuclear radiation.
So, who wouldn't love to have them around?
This blog will take you through growing and caring for sunflowers at home. We will discuss the following: -
- Fascinating facts about sunflowers
- Significant benefits of sunflowers
- How to grow sunflower plants easily at home
- How to take care of sunflower plants
So, let’s get started.
Fascinating facts about sunflowers
- The scientific name of the sunflower is Helianthus annuus. It is derived from the Greek words Helios meaning “sun” and anthos meaning “flower.”
- This plant was first domesticated in the Americas.
- The 16th century saw the introduction of sunflower seeds from the Americas to Europe. At this time, sunflower oil became an inseparable part of cooking.
- Do you know that Russia and Ukraine produce over half of the sunflower seed worldwide?
- It may surprise you to know that a single sunflower is made up of countless tiny blossoms. The blossom is called the head, while the yellow petals and fuzzy brown cores are separate blooms.
- Each sunflower has 1000-2000 seeds.
Significant benefits of sunflowers
Most sunflowers are used for sunflower oil and sunflower seeds. Both of these have significant health benefits that are explained below: -
Low in saturated fat and high in vitamin E – that sums up sunflower oil for you. Phytochemicals like choline and phenolic acid are also present in this oil, making it suitable for your heart. Due to its vitamins and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, it is one of the healthiest oils. According to experts, you may be protected against the risks of cardiovascular disorders.
May prevent cancer
No other cooking oil has a higher level of vitamin E than sunflower oil. Therefore, using this oil in our diet protects against colon cancer. Sunflower oil contains carotenoids that aid in the prevention of skin, lung, and uterine malignancies. The tocopherols in sunflower oil - vitamin E, aid in scavenging cancer-causing free radicals. The immune system and cells are both harmed by free radicals.
Blessing for skin
Vitamin E-rich sunflower oil is directly linked to enhancing skin health and cell regeneration. As a result, the skin is better guarded against UV ray damage and the aging process that results from the presence of free radicals in the body. Do you know that your scars can be significantly reduced, wounds will heal faster, and your skin will look radiant with the application of sunflower oil?
Millions of people worldwide have asthma, a respiratory ailment that can be minor or fatal. Sunflower oil may be connected with the reduction of this inflammatory disease. The vitamin content and the fatty acids make this oil naturally anti-inflammatory.
The presence of vitamin E, selenium, and zinc makes sunflower seeds a great food to strengthen immunity. Vitamin E mainly helps prevent diseases and is an important antioxidant that saves the body from cell damage caused by free radicals. Zinc protects the body from allergies and inflammation, while selenium reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.
The fibers present in sunflower seeds help lower blood levels of LDL cholesterol. These seeds include niacin, or vitamin B3, which reduces overall cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Also, these seeds are rich in vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, which raises HDL cholesterol and lowers total blood cholesterol.
May aid in weight loss
For weight loss, you need something rich in fiber and protein. Sunflower seeds are just that. They will make you feel full for a long time and stop you from overeating. So, you end up taking in fewer calories.
May treat anemia
Anemia is a health condition caused by the scarcity of healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen to body tissues. Sunflower seeds have a good amount of iron, and if these seeds are consumed, the iron levels are boosted. It may be helpful for people with anemia.
Other benefits of sunflower
Food for birds and animals
The leaves of the sunflower plant are used as fodder. Stock and poultry feed on sunflower oil cakes. Also, the sunflower seeds can be fed to birds.
Used as a dye
Sunflowers can enormously benefit the garment industry, as the petals can be used to make dye or color. Bright yellow to orange hues are obtained from sunflower petals. If Hobi species of flowers are used then purple color can also be extracted. Instead of chemical or synthetic dyes, these are more eco-friendly for yarns and fabrics.
Attracts bees and butterflies
When you plant sunflowers, bees and butterflies will also come along in your garden, fulfilling Mother Nature's law and contributing towards the food cycle. Isn't that a significant benefit? The population of bees and butterflies is declining, but by planting a flower they adore, you can do your bit toward a healthy planet.
As botanical screen
Their height and abundance also make them excellent botanical screens. For instance, planting a circle of sunflowers around your compost pile would hide it from view, and the compost's nutrients would help the sunflowers grow up healthy and robust.
How to grow sunflower plants easily at home
Sunflowers are annual flowering plants that loudly announce the summer season. Depending on the seeds you have used, this plant can reach two to fifteen feet. Check the steps mentioned below to grow them successfully at home: -
Choose a favorable spot
Be it on your terrace, balcony, or garden outside, you must ensure the spot receives sunlight for 6–8 hours daily. Sunflowers do best in warm to hot areas with constant daylight. Sunflowers flourish in climates with long, scorching summers.
Test your soil
Get a soil test kit and perform a soil pH test to know the exact level. Sunflowers do well in soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. If the soil pH is more than 6.0 or above 7.5, use compost or mix granular sulfur, respectively. Although sunflowers will grow in any soil, an ideal pH will yield better-quality flowers.
Before planting, you have to be sure of the soil's drainage. Sunflowers generally do well in all soil types, but if the soil is heavy and doesn't drain easily, it may damage the roots.
Ideal time to plant
Sunflower seeds should be planted in the early summer after the soil has thoroughly warmed. This often takes place in late May to mid-April.
- Using a hand trowel or your hands, loosen the soil. When planting sunflower seeds, the soil should be loose and light. Add three to four inches of compost to soil that lacks nutrients or drains poorly.
- Now use a shovel or hands to dig one-inch hole to place the seeds. If planting in rows, keep 30 inches gap.
- Put seeds in the hole and cover it with soil
- Now you can mix a thin layer of fertilizer. Opt for organic fertilizer, and they will ensure sturdy stalks.
Water the soil thoroughly, but remember not to drench it. Due to their strong roots, sunflowers prefer infrequent, intense watering to frequent, shallow watering. Change your watering schedule on weeks when it's very hot or gloomy.
After the plant reaches a considerable height, you can mulch the area to help the soil retain moisture and prevent weed growth. If you witness heavy rain, refill the mulch.
In case your area experience strong wind, you can provide some support to the plant, like bamboo or stake.
Two to three months after planting, your sunflowers should begin to bloom in the middle of the summer.
- Buy sunflower seeds online or offline. It would be best if you opted for the dwarf variety of sunflowers because you want to keep it indoors.
- You also must be informed about the type of sunflower that will bloom in your indoor space. Single-stem sunflowers can grow from one seed. If you or any family member is allergic to pollen, you can choose this one because single-stem sunflowers are pollen-less. But if you want it to bloom through summer, you must replant it every two weeks. On the other hand, branching sunflowers will bloom all through the summer without replanting.
- Now you have to buy the correct size of container to grow sunflowers. As you are planting indoors, dwarf sunflowers can be planted in 12- to 16-cm containers.
- For growing sunflowers, mix potting soil with compost to provide a nutrient-rich environment for the seeds.
- Press the seeds one inch deep into the soil. If you are planting multiple seeds, keep them 4 inches apart. After planting your seeds, top the soil with a thin layer of compost.
- As they mature, sunflowers require more water than most other plants. Make sure the soil is always wet and has good drainage. While the seeds germinate, give your sunflowers at least 2 gallons (7.6 L) of water per week.
- Your sunflower seeds should begin to sprout into little seedlings in seven to ten days. Continue watering the seeds daily during this period, and ensure the soil is wet, especially around the seeds.
- Fertilize if necessary and keep watering as the plant grows.
- Allow at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight to reach the plant daily.
- Two to three months after planting, in the middle of the summer, your sunflowers should begin to blossom.
How to take care of sunflower plants
The sunflower is a garden jewel. Wherever you grow – be it a balcony, terrace, front yard garden, or by your window, make sure you fulfill the following care instructions: -
For strong stems and proper growth, sunflower plants must have 6–8 hours of daily sunlight. Sunlight exposure will help sunflowers stay straight rather than bend in the direction of the light's intensity since they are heliotropes (their flower heads follow the sun) by nature.
As the name suggests, sunflowers are in love with the sun. So, any location that receives plenty of sunlight will be ideal for this flower.
Even though sunflowers can withstand dry conditions, watering them regularly encourages blooming because flowering frequently declines during dry spells. Also, sunflowers require more water during germination, and after that, one inch per week is sufficient, but again, that will increase or decrease depending on the season and evapotranspiration rates. Wait for the top 2 inches of soil to dry out before watering. During the sultry summer season, if you notice your sunflowers drooping slightly, they likely need extra water.
The ideal temperature required for the growth of sunflowers is between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius. This is a hardy plant and can tolerate higher temperatures; ensure the water requirement is properly met in conjunction with the temperature. Sunflowers can also tolerate chilly weather if the sunlight is abundant.
Any fertilizer rich in phosphorus and potassium will work for the growth and development of sunflowers. If your soil is poor, opt for a slow-release fertilizer rich in potassium and phosphorus and apply it around the spring season. But if you have rich, loamy soil, you may not require any fertilizer.
Although sunflowers prefer slightly acidic to alkaline soil, they can grow in most soil types. This resilience or adaptability is one of the prime traits of a sunflower. The preferred soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.5. Sunflowers can grow beautifully in dry or poor soils, but the ideal soil would be well-draining with rich organic matter content.
Sunflowers will be a great addition to your balcony or backyard garden. They will brighten up your day with a cheerful vibe. It is easy to grow and maintain, so even if you are a beginner, you can raise a sunflower plant. This blog will guide you through the whole process.
FAQs related to Sunflowers
Are sunflowers low-maintenance plants?
Sunflowers are low-maintenance flowering plants and are very easy to grow.
How long does a cut sunflower stay fresh?
A sunflower can remain fresh for a week to twelve days if it receives proper care, like clean water, every couple of days.
How long it takes sunflowers to bloom?
From the time of sowing, it will take 80 to 120 days for sunflowers to bloom.
Which one is good – growing sunflowers in a pot or ground?
You can grow sunflowers both in pots and directly in the ground. Just ensure that the plant receives abundant sunlight and water.
What type of fertilizer is suitable for sunflowers?
A fertilizer rich in phosphorus and potassium is excellent for sunflowers.