The sunflower is a flower native to North America. There are a number of different sunflower varieties, but most are known for having a wide central disk that is surrounded by short petals which can be rust, yellow or burgundy in colour. Although different varieties of sunflowers have different properties, the most common sunflower grows on a sturdy stalk that can be as tall as 10 feet. The sunflower is most known for its unique appearance and its edible seeds.
Once the danger of frost has passed, plant sunflower seeds directly in an outdoor garden. Another option is to start the seeds indoors for three to four weeks before transplanting them outdoors. Make sure to use peat pots that can be easily transplanted without disturbing the root structure. The best time for planting sunflowers is between April and June.
Sunflowers will not bloom if they are not getting enough water. Regular watering is the best way to ensure you have healthy flowers. Sunflowers also have difficulty competing with weeds, so mulching is necessary for maintaining moisture and suppressing weed growth.
Sunflowers begin to mature in the early part of fall. The heads will begin to turn in a downward direction during this time, and the florets in the central disk will begin to shrivel. At this point you can harvest a few seeds, opening them up to test them. To harvest sunflower seeds, cut the entire flower head with approximately 1 inch of stem attached, then hang in a warm and dry spot with adequate ventilation. Cover the head of the flower with a paper bag to catch the seeds as they fall.