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Add Sunflowers to the Garden for Blooms, Birds and Bees

The healthiest gardens have a lot of biodiversity -- that is, there are a lot of critters, from microscopic fungi and bacteria to box turtles and birds. Some of what I grow is for the critters, so I like to add sunflowers to the garden for blooms, birds and bees to create a healthy environment in my garden.

Why Sunflowers?

Hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and songbirds all enjoy the treats that a sunflower has to offer. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies come early to enjoy nectar provided by the blooms, while songbirds come after the flowers have produced seed. Adding sunflowers to the garden is a great way to support native bird species, like gold finches, and it's fun and relaxing to watch them eat.

How to Plant Sunflowers

Sunflowers can be grown about anywhere that has full sun and will germinate (sprout) quickly. In the heat of summer, large sunflower varieties grow inches every day, so this is about a close as we get to instant gratification in gardening. While they must have full sun, they are not fussy about soil, so don't worry about amending the soil in an area you will plant sunflowers. In general, sunflowers have few pests and diseases making them a low maintenance plant.
  • Wait until the soil temperatures are above 70° before planting. Sunflowers like it HOT!
  • Sunflowers can be planted in rows or clusters. Get creative and plant them in a circle for a fun hiding place. 
  • Plant seeds in a prepared garden space, where grass and weeds have been removed. Place seeds about 1/2 inch deep, about one foot apart. Different varieties require different spacing, so read labels for specifics.
  • Water well. 
Take the time to enjoy these beautiful flowers and the critters they attract after you add sunflowers to the garden for blooms, birds and bees. Growing your own bird seed is fun and frugal!

What is your favorite garden critter?



  1. You make it sound so easy! I have a lot of trouble with sunflowers...
    However, I keep trying. :)
    Do you know the species or variety name for the really tall sunflowers that make 12" blooms and seeds that people like to snack on? I keep buying what I think is the right thing, and open the package to find very small seeds...
    Also, could I grow these tall ones on the west side of a building, if I staked them? Do you think that would be enough sun?
    Thanks, in advance! :)

  2. I hope it doesn't sound like it's as easy as spreading fairy dust! LOL! Gardening does take some work and luck, for sure.

    I suspect the variety you are looking for is Mammoth gray stripe sunflowers. They get huge and in my garden they do require staking or they fall over. If you put them on the west side of the building I think they would get enough sun as long as there aren't any trees to shade them. They would get that hot evening sun, which should do well for them. Good luck!

  3. Haha! No, I know there has to be some dirt mixed in with the fairy dust! Ha!
    I grow a lot of plants, but have had zero success with sunflowers, except for about 20 years ago.
    Okay, on the west side they go! No trees shading except at about 6 p.m. It's nearly over by then.
    If I get anything, I'll let you peek at them. :)


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