Sunflowers are a beautiful and majestic addition to vegetable or flower gardens. These towering golden flowers create an attractive atmosphere and provide much-needed summer shade for neighboring plants.
Sunflowers get their name from how the large flower heads turn to face the sun as it travels from east to west. Plant sunflowers facing south for maximum sun exposure. Plant sunflower seeds after the last chance of winter frost and succession plant every two weeks to keep a continuous supply of cut flowers for the home. Space seeds 6 inches apart under 1 inch of soil.
Sunflowers need well-drained soil and plenty of water. Provide plants with deep irrigation to about 18 inches. You can add a few inches of mulch to the soil, or plant melons or cucumbers nearby when the sunflowers are about a foot tall. As companion plants, the melon and cucumber vines will keep the soil cool and maintain moisture.
Sunflowers are ready to harvest when the seeds are dark and begin to fall out of the heads. Cut off the flower heads and harvest the seeds for future planting or roast them for a healthy snack. You can also leave some heads remaining for the birds, but you can also harvest seeds to make a homemade bird food recipe for them.