Exploring Sunflowers: The Farm Facts
In our beautiful Central Washington, Sunflowers self-seed just about everywhere… along the highway, on hills, among weeds. As the rain fall decreases and the green hills fade to shades of golden brown, I love seeing those bright yellow blooms bring a pop of color back into the landscape.
Here at Chelan Valley Farms, Pumpkin Patch is on the brain as well as excitement for the thousands of lovely and unique Sunflowers that will be blooming just in time for our 5th annual Pumpkin Patch!
With having a rather ideal climate for this flower, Sunflowers are a must grow! Any variety you choose to plant I expect will grow beautifully but here are some of my personal favorites:
ProCut Gold Lite Sunflower
I am a huge fan of the ProCut Varieties on Johnny’s Seeds. These Sunflowers are a single stem that produce one magnificent, sturdy bloom. They also come in a wide variety of colors to choose from, making them a beautiful addition to the garden as hedges or rows! Procut Gold Light is my favorite ProCut variety we’ve grown!
Branching Sunflower varieties like Strawberry Lemonade and Chocolate Sunflowers are fantastic because each plant produces multiple blooms making it well worth your while. These have an appearance similar to the wild sunflowers we see growing here and there, but they will produce unique colors and sturdier blooms in comparison.
Lastly, we have the Classic Giant Sunflower. These produce amazing seeds for harvesting. These are not my favorite for cut flowers though they do look marvelous in the garden with their gargantuan blooms!
Climate and Soil Requirements:
Sunflowers truly thrive in Central Washington’s warm and sunny climate. They require soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Sandy, loamy soil is ideal for sunflower cultivation.
Planting Time: The best time of year to plant Sunflowers in Central WA is in late Spring or after the final frost date has passed.
Planting Method: Sunflowers must be directly sowed into the soil! I typically plant sunflowers about ½ inch to 1 inch deep in the soil. Ideal spacing for Sunflowers depends upon variety; I’d recommend 6 inches for ProCut varieties and 12 inches for branching varieties!
Sunflowers require regular watering, especially during the early growth stages. Aim to provide about 1 inch of water per week. However, be cautious not to overwater, as sunflowers are susceptible to root rot. Keep the area around sunflowers free from weeds to reduce competition for nutrients and water!
Sunflowers typically mature in about 70 to 100 days, depending on the variety. Harvest the seeds when the flower heads start to droop and the back of the flower head turns yellow. Cut the flower heads and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area to dry for about two weeks. Once dry, remove the seeds for consumption or to save for planting next season!
Pros to Growing Sunflowers:
Sunflowers attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, benefiting the overall health of your farm’s ecosystem. Additionally, they can serve as a natural windbreak for other crops. Lastly, they’re beautiful which I count as a huge plus!
Some Sunflower Fields in Your Area: Halfmoon Blooms (Spokane) | Stocker Farms (Snohomish) | Maris Farms (Buckley) |Schilter Family Farm (Olympia) | Home Farm (Birch Bay)
Thank you, friends, for supporting the small farmers of Washington State! We’re ramping up for the fall so stay tuned for some exciting events coming up. I hope you all continue to have a marvelous Summer, cheers!