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Eetbare bloemen Bijen

How to sow and grow sunflowers

No vegetable garden is complete without sunflowers.

They look beautiful, attract bees to your garden, and are a great neighbor plant for your beans. This variety even grows multiple flowers per stem.
Zonnebloemen in de Makkelijke Moestuin
Sunflowers

What is a sunflower?

The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant in the daisy family. It is native to North and Central America. Around 1510, the Spanish brought the seeds to Europe.

Sunflowers can grow up to 3 meters tall. They have a sturdy stem, but because they grow so tall, strong winds can blow them over. Tie them to a trellis or pole for extra support.

While the flower bud is still closed, the sunflower turns with the sun. So cool to see. 

At night, it points to the east and when it starts flowering it stays that way: the stem gets stiff and it stops moving. 

The seeds are edible and tasty. Birds love them too.

Sunflowers and your health

You grow sunflowers because they look amazing and attract bees. Eating the seeds is an added perk.

Sunflower seeds are full of vitamin E, an important antioxidant. They also contain a lot of zinc: good for beautiful skin and cell growth. The fiber and magnesium lower cholesterol and the high amounts of selenium stimulate the liver to help rid the body of waste. In short: only good for you.

Don't feel like stripping the seeds of their hard shell? Then give them to the birds: they love them 😀
Hoge zonnebloem in de Makkelijke Moestuin
The seeds of sunflowers are very healthy

More about our sunflower seeds

Sunflowers are also are great companion plants, especially for beans. This variety grows multiple flowers per stem. So you can enjoy them even longer.

  • Species name: Henri Wilde
  • Family: flower
  • Plants per square patch: 1 at the back of the garden box, ideally next to a trellis
  • Height: 200 - 250 cm
  • Sowing time: May and June
  • Sowing depth: 1 cm
  • Germination: about 20°C in 7 - 20 days
  • Time to bloom: after 8 to 10 weeks
  • Sunlight: can grow in both sun and shade

Looking to buy sunflower seeds? We sell seed bags separately, or, you can get them as part of a seed pack:

What do you need to grow sunflowers yourself?

You only need a few things to grow sunflowers:
  • a 30x30 cm patch with airy, nutrient-rich soil mix
  • sunflower seeds
  • a place with at least 6 - 8 hours of sunlight a day
  • a trellis or pole for support
In other words: an MM-Mini, or a square patch in 1 of our garden boxes with or without a trellis, and the MM-Mix.

Growing your own sunflowers is super easy with the MM-Mix. If you grow in low-quality (potting) soil, disappointment is pretty much guaranteed. So don't skimp on soil mix: go for the best.
Zonnebloemen groeien super goed op de Makkelijke Moestuinmix
Sunflowers grow great in the MM-Mix

How do you sow and grow sunflowers?

Sunflowers are included in the free Planty Gardening app. Use it, and you'll get step-by-step guidance from seed to harvest.

Each vegetable goes through a number of stages - we call them levels. The app tells you exactly what to do at each level and checks in when your plants are ready for the next.

So, you don't need to know how to grow sunflowers in advance: the app takes you through every step.

But if you'd like to read more about those steps, here's what the process looks like:
Bijen zijn gek op zonnebloemen
Bees love sunflowers

Level 1: Sowing sunflowers

Choose a patch in the back 2 rows of your garden box or get your MM-Mini ready. Make the soil mix loose and moist. Then sow the seeds like this:

  • poke 1 hole in the middle of the patch (1 cm deep max)
  • put 2 to 3 seeds in the hole
  • carefully cover it up with soil mix

Depending on the weather and the time of year, you'll see something come up in the next 2 weeks.
Zonnebloemzaaien met de Makkelijke Moestuin app

Level 2 and 3: Sunflower seedlings and thinning

If you see the first seedlings, you know you're on track.

Sometimes more than one comes up. Then you're ready for the next level: thinning.

Choose the best seedling and remove the rest. It might sound harsh, but it's necessary. The remaining plant will have the room it needs to grow. 

Your sunflower will thank you later.

Level 3: Zonnebloem zaailingen uitdunnen

After about 2 weeks your seedling becomes a small plant.

You hardly need to do anything for the next month: when the weather is dry, give some water and remove the odd dead or yellow leaf. Easy 🙂 

The stem grows fast, so give the plant some support. Either on a trellis or with a sturdy pole. And watch out for snails: they love sunflower seedlings.
Zaailingen Makkelijke Moestuin zonnebloem uitdunnen

Level 4: Caring for your sunflower

After about 2 weeks your seedling becomes a small plant.

You hardly need to do anything for the next month: when the weather is dry, give some water and remove the odd dead or yellow leaf. Easy 🙂 

The stem grows fast, so give the plant some support. Either on a trellis or with a sturdy pole. And watch out for snails: they love sunflower seedlings.
Eerste knop van de Makkelijke Moestuinzonnebloem
First sunflower bud

Level 5: Blooming

About 8 to 9 weeks after sowing, the first flower buds appear. 

The plant is growing fast now and getting big. Tie it to the trellis or put a sturdy pole next to it if you haven't yet. You don't want them blown over in the next storm:
Omgewaaide zonnebloem in de Makkelijke Moestuin
Omgewaaide zonnebloem

What do you use sunflowers for?

Sunflowers are in your vegetable garden to attract bees and make you happy.

But you can also eat the flower buds raw or steam them like artichokes. You can also snack on the seeds: unpeeled or peeled, raw or roasted.

Other than that, they're great as cut flowers.

Tip from the florist: cut the stem at an angle and place them in hot water. This stops them from drooping. 
Zet zonnebloemen in een laagje heet water
Hot tip from the florist: sunflowers in warm water

The last levels

Your sunflower will continue to form new buds and flowers for a long time. Flowering can go into October.

Once it gets really cold and starts to freeze, the plant turns black. Then it's time to empty your sunflower patch.
De Makkelijke Moestuin zonnebloem blijft bloeien tot ver in de herfst
Sunflowers continue to bloom well into autumn

So, what's stopping you from growing your own sunflower?

It's super easy to grow, the flowers are bee magnets, and just looking at it will make you happy.

Plus: with our materials and app it's practically impossible to fail 😉

Order your sunflower seeds here or get growing with a complete starter kit:
Enjoy!
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