Traditionally, the sunflower is a plant that usually blooms towards the end of the summer. This means that they need to have been planted early in the summer or in the spring. So, the question is, “What happens if you miss the planting season for sunflowers?”
Can You Plant Sunflowers in Late Summer?
Is it possible to plant sunflowers late in the summer and still yield impressive results? The answer is yes, you can plant sunflowers in the late summer. It is however dependent on the climate of your location. The major limitation of this scenario is that the resultant plant is not as long as those planted in the early summer.
This is mostly down to the fact that the days in the late summer tend to be shorter than early and mid-summer. Late summer sunflowers also tend to have fewer petals as well.
The only factor that can prevent their growth is the cold and also if the weather remains favorable, you can get two blooming before the cold arrives. If you would like optimal results, then the best planting period of the late summer in the middle of August.
This way, you will most likely get two blooms before the frost begins.
Why Should You Plant Sunflowers?
Sunflowers have a dignified beauty to them and are one of the most identifiable flowers in the world. In addition to beauty, sunflowers offer several great benefits.
- A free source of food: Sunflower seeds are healthy and delicious, and they can be eaten as is or in several ways. Either as sprinkles with something else or on their own, the sunflower seeds are delicious. Sunflower oil can also be used to prepare other meals and it has a major effect on your health than regular cooking oil.
- Play a key role in pollination: Insects are responsible for more than 60% of all the pollination on earth and the sunflower offers them a landing spot. Sunflowers are attractive to insects like bees and contain nectar which the insects feed on. Here, they pick up pollen from the flower and spread them all around, resulting in the growth of new sunflowers. Many people refer to this as inactive planting.
- Decontamination of the soil: This benefit is one that every gardener would love. Soil care is not an easy task and it is easy for the soil to get contaminated. The action of biological agents, man-made occurrences, and others can all result in contaminated soil. Sunflowers can absorb and utilise the metals and heavy minerals present in the soil. You get healthier soil to plant more sunflowers or other plants.
Growing Sunflowers in the Late Summer
The time between planting the sunflowers and harvesting is a short period. In its entirety, it will take somewhere between 55 and 70 days before you get sunflowers with actual flowers.
This time frame is solely for sunflowers planted in the late summer as those planted earlier tend to mature faster due to greater availability of sunlight and overall climate. While cold weather and frost are not ideal for the growth of sunflowers, they can still tolerate a bit of cold and frost, and still manage to produce flowers.
Soil Preparation for Sunflower Seed Planting
- Planting Location: The planting site must have adequate access to sunlight because. This has to be full exposure to sunlight. The location must also have enough standing room for them to grow as sunflowers grow tall (about 2 – 20 ft.).
- Soil type: Sunflowers grow in all types of soil will suffice as long as it is organically rich and well-drained. Also, the top 8 in. of the soil must be loosened using a mixture of organic compost so the sunflower’s shallow roots can develop.
- Soil Drainage: Since sunflowers have shallow roots, saturated soils are not ideal for their growth. If planted in muddy soils or puddles, they fail to grow.
- Spacing: Sunflowers need to be spaced so their roots can grow. They are usually spaced around 1 – 2 ft. apart.
- Fertilising: Organic mulch or fertilisers will provide the necessary nutrients for the seed to grow.
How to Plant Sunflowers in the Late Summer
As the late summer is not ideal for planting sunflowers, you will need to follow certain instructions to get the best possible results. Firstly, you will need to plant your sunflower in soil that is high in organic content and material. If your soil is not rich, you can apply organic matter manually via fertilisers and other methods.
You will also need to make use of well-drained soil as excess water can also dampen the growth of sunflowers. You should make sure your planting spot has as much access to the sun as possible, to provide whatever it can for the plants.
The planting method is the same as sunflowers in early summer except for one key difference: Plant the seeds a bit shallower. As sunlight and climate are limited, the sunflower seeds need to be planted at about ½ inch (1 cm) into the soil.
After planting, you will need to water the soil regularly to keep it moist and enable the plants to grow uninterrupted. Once seedlings emerge, continue with your routine until it begins to flower and mature. The height your sunflower will reach is also dependent on the variety you plant, not just the time you plant it.
Space the plants once they produce seedlings to reduce competition for nutrients. The larger sunflowers need to have a space of about 23 – 24 inches (60 cm) between them whilst the smaller ones are fine with about 6 – 8 inches (15 – 20 cm). The presence of weed can affect the growth of sunflowers, so you need to eliminate weeds if they show up to reduce competition for nutrients.
With the right attitude and care, you will have fully bloomed sunflowers while the season is seemingly over. For the best chances of success, strict care and maintenance are necessary as the sunflowers growing at this time is unnatural. Additional care like the application of fertiliser is optional and should only be employed if the soil is not very fertile. Follow the instructions, and you will have what is known as, ‘late-blooming sunflowers‘.