If you’re looking for an easy-to-grow flower, try planting sunflowers. If you happen to have a black thumb and are not very good with plants, they are a good choice as they are hardy plants that tolerate neglect and inexperience. All you have to do is give them lots of sunlight and water, and they will take care of the rest.

Red Sunflowers

Floral Arrangement Featuring Red Cultivars
Credit: Red Sunflowers by The_Effable_Neutrino under public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Best Soil

While sunflowers can grow in most soils, they prefer a poorer soil to a rich one. If you decide to improve your soil or use organic or highly fertile soil, be aware that the sunflowers may become leggy and weak. You will need to stake them to support the stems especially if you live in an area that is prone to frequent wind and rain storms.

Starting Your Seeds

To start the sunflower seeds, place a few inside a  piece of absorbent paper like a napkin or even a coffee filter. Generously moisten the paper and place it inside a plastic resealable bag. Seal tightly and put it in a warm spot like the inside of a drawer or on top of the refrigerator, and check it about once a day until the seeds sprout.

Add some water when necessary to keep the seeds moist. They will germinate quickly if you keep them in this warm, moist environment.

In less than a week, the seeds start to open. Once this happens, plant them carefully in the ground in a sunny place. The seeds do not need to be planted deeply; just place them in a shallow soil bed. This method works well when you are only growing a few sunflowers.

If you plan to grow many sunflowers, use a seeder tray. Seeder trays are pots or plastic trays specifically designed for starting seeds. You'll find them at your local hardware or garden outlets, and many of them have the soil included in the package.

Place some potting soil in the bottom of the seeder trays with a bit of vermiculite. Vermiculite allows for air to filter through the soil as the plant grows.

Plant a few of the seeds inside each section of the tray in the soil mixture. Keep the soil moist but not soaked until the sunflowers sprout and develop their first true leaves. By this time, they should have established a good root base so you can transfer them to your garden or flowerbed.

Planting Your Sunflowers

Sunflower seeds are tiny but they germinate quickly in about four to five days. You can buy seeds that produce traditional, mid-height, dwarf, giant or multi-branching heads. Order seeds from catalogs or the Internet or pick up a packet at the local garden or hardware store.

Plant sunflower seeds directly into the ground or start them indoors. (See the easy instructions above for complete details on starting the seeds yourself.)

If you have children, starting the seeds is a good way to introduce them to gardening. Because sunflowers germinate so fast, they are perfect gardening project for impatient youngsters (or grown-ups!) who crave instant gratification.

Time Lapse Video: Sunflowers Following the Sun

Care and Maintenance

Sunflowers are incredibly low maintenance and can be enjoyed all summer long. If you buy sunflower seedlings, you can plant them directly into the ground, but be sure to leave the dirt around the root base intact so they do not dry out.

Plant them where they will receive full sun exposure to get the largest blooms. While they tolerate partial shade, they will not grow as well or as big in the shade. Sunflowers need lots of water to grow and thrive so keep them well hydrated especially when temperatures soar. It's best to water them early in the morning or late in the evening, but be careful not to overwater them.

Sunflowers come in various rich shades of golds, rusts or yellows so you can use them to complement or contrast other flowers in your flower bed or garden patch. Because there are so many choices, choosing just one or two can be problematic but browsing the available selections is lots of fun.