In late summer or early fall the large, yellow seed heads of sunflowers will be ripening. If gardeners can fend off the birds and other wildlife trying to eat the seeds, they can save some sunflower seeds for planting the following year. The bright yellow blooms will accent a rainbow garden, feature in a yellow garden or brighten up any space.

When to Try Planting Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are usually best sown directly outdoors in the late spring.

Wait until after the last frost date and then prepare a place for them where they will get at least 6 hours of full sunlight each day. If you are going to try to start your sunflower seeds indoors, use a biodegradable peat-type pot to lessen any transplant shock and transfer the plant outdoors before it is more than 4-5" tall.

How to Plant Sunflower Seeds

Plant the sunflower seeds only about a deep as the seed itself is long at the maximum. Smaller sized sunflowers can be spaced a foot apart. Larger varieties will need to be spaced as far apart as three feet. This allows mature plants enough space for the seed heads to ripen without bumping into each other and knocking the ripe seeds off before gardeners ave a chance to harvest them.

Most sunflower seeds, especially those with edible seeds, are large enough to handle without the need for seed sorters or seed tape. This is one reason why sunflowers make an excellent choice for a children's garden as well. Gardeners will want to mix plenty of humus, compost or other soil enhancers into the ground as sunflowers tend to be heavy feeders.

Sunflower lovers can tell you that birds and other critters might try to steal newly planted sunflower seeds. Cover the row with mesh, hide seedlings under milk jugs until they are rooted enough to be unpalatable, or use other deterrents to keep squirrels and birds away.

Growing Sunflower Plants from Seeds

Sunflowers can be slow starters and tiny seedlings don't seems to grow very rapidly. Gardeners should place mulch around the base of their new plants, but be prepared to stake sunflower plants as they begin to grow. Once they get going, sunflowers are able to out-compete and out-grow many weeds, making them easier to maintain in the home vegetable garden than many other plants.

Most pests and diseases are not a bother to the sunflower, however, more than one gardener has said that their gorgeous looking plants were felled overnight by a hungry squirrel or flock of birds. For most gardens the biggest threat will be critters wanting to eat the bountiful seeds. To preserve their harvest, gardeners can cover the ripening seed head with pantyhose, mesh or cheesecloth to help keep the predators off the seeds.

Planting sunflower seeds is easy and can help even the smallest, most enthusiastic gardener feel successful in their gardening attempts.