Propagate Sunflowers

Sunflowers are among the easiest flowers to propagate.

Sunflowers are a mainstay of many summertime gardens, grown for their large showy flowers and edible seeds. A huge variety of sunflowers exist, including single- and double-petaled varieties in colors ranging from lemon yellow to burgundy. They are among the easiest flowering annuals to propagate, since their seeds are highly viable, and although you must wait until several weeks after the final frost in spring to plant them outdoors, they grow quickly and begin blooming by early June in many areas. Does this Spark an idea?


1. Fill a nursery flat with standard compost. Spritz the compost with a spray bottle until it is moistened to half its depth. Insert your finger into the compost to test the moisture level.

2. Insert one seed in every 2 square inches of soil. Press the seed 1 inch deep into the soil and sprinkle loose compost over the hole. Spray the compost with water until it is moistened through its entire depth.

3. Place the nursery flat on a propagation heating mat so the seeds are kept between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during germination.

4. Stretch plastic wrap across the flat to help mimic a warm, moist greenhouse-like environment. Poke three or four small holes across the surface of the plastic wrap to help increase air flow.

5. Place the flat where the seeds will receive up to six hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day. Moisten the surface of the compost with a spray bottle every three days.

6. Thin the seedlings when they reach 1 inch in height. Remove any stunted seedlings or those with thin or weak stems.

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7. Prepare an outdoor bed by cultivating the soil to a depth of 6 inches using a rotary tiller. Plant the seedlings outdoors seven days after the last frost of the year. Plant one seedling every 12 inches. Water every three days to a depth of 6 inches.