sunflower seedlings

When To Plant Sunflowers In Ohio

Growing sunflowers in Ohio is an amazing experience! With the right care and attention, they can produce beautiful, vibrant flowers that bring a feeling of joy to any garden. From their bright yellow and orange petals to the strong and tall stalks, sunflowers are a delightful sight to behold, and they provide a pleasant aroma to the air.

Ohio offers a moderate climate that is perfect for growing sunflowers, with plenty of sunshine and mild temperatures. With the right care and attention, sunflowers can thrive in Ohio, and they are sure to bring a joyous and colorful addition to any garden.

Ohio climate and growing zones

Ohio has a humid continental climate, characterized by hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. The state experiences four distinct seasons, with temperatures ranging from an average high of 88°F (31°C) in the summer to an average low of 22°F (-6°C) in the winter.

Ohio’s growing zones range from 5 to 6. Zone 5 is characterized by short, cool winters and warm, humid summers. Average annual minimum temperatures range from -10°F (-23°C) to 0°F (-18°C). The growing season usually begins in late April and ends in late October.

Zone 6 has milder winters than Zone 5, with average annual minimum temperatures ranging from 0°F (-18°C) to 10°F (-12°C). The growing season for Zone 6 usually begins in late March and ends in late November.

Growing sunflowers in Ohio

Growing sunflowers in Ohio can be a rewarding experience, though the climate in the state can present some challenges. Sunflowers require full sun and thrive in warmer climates. In Ohio, cold temperatures and shorter growing seasons can make it difficult to get enough heat and light for optimal growth. When growing sunflowers in Ohio, it’s important to give the plants as much sun as possible. Choose a sunny spot in your yard and make sure the soil is well-draining.

Sunflowers need at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Planting in early spring and late summer can help maximize the amount of sunlight available. Ohio’s cold winters can cause frost damage to sunflowers, so it’s important to provide some protection.

Mulching the soil around the plants can help insulate them against low temperatures. For extra protection, you can cover the plants with a frost blanket or burlap when temperatures drop below freezing. When the temperatures start to rise in the summer, it’s time to fertilize your sunflowers. Sunflowers need a balanced fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content than nitrogen or potassium. You can also add compost or manure to the soil to help nourish your plants.

Some of my favorite varieties of sunflower include:

  1. Mammoth Grey Stripe Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 75-100 days to maturity 
  2. Teddy Bear Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 60-90 days to maturity 
  3. Red Sun (Helianthus annuus) – 65-95 days to maturity 
  4. Autumn Beauty Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 75-90 days to maturity 
  5. Lemon Queen Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 75-95 days to maturity 
  6. Velvet Queen Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 90-110 days to maturity 
  7. Dwarf Sunspot Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 60-90 days to maturity 
  8. Giant Sungold Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 85-110 days to maturity 
  9. Evening Sun Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 75-95 days to maturity 
  10. Sundance Kid Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 75-95 days to maturity

When to start sunflowers indoors in Ohio

Sunflower seeds should be started indoors 4 weeks before your final frost date. In Ohio, the final frost dates are:

  • Zone 5: Around April 30th
  • Zone 6: Around April 21

You should also consider the size of the variety of sunflower you are planting, as shorter varieties can be planted later and taller varieties will need to be started a week or two earlier. Sunflowers should be started indoors:

  • Zone 5: Around April 1st
  • Zone 6: Around March 24th

Starting sunflowers from seed is a relatively easy process that can be done both indoors and outdoors. To begin, you will need to purchase sunflower seeds from a garden center or online. When selecting seeds, make sure to look for the desired variety you want to grow. Once you have your seeds, you can choose to start them indoors 4 weeks before the last frost date for your region. 

Fill a seed tray with starter soil and moisten it with a spray bottle. Place your seeds on top of the soil, cover them lightly with starter soil, and water them gently. Place the tray in a warm and sunny spot, and keep the soil moist. Once your plants have grown 2-3 sets of leaves, you can transplant them outdoors. 

Planting sunflowers outside in Ohio

Sunflower seeds should be planted outdoors after the last average frost date for your area. Planting sunflower seeds too early can result in poor germination and seedling growth and potentially death if there’s a hard freeze.

When planting outdoors, make sure the area has plenty of sunshine and well-draining soil. Dig a hole that is twice the size of the root ball, and fill the hole with compost or aged manure. Place the seedling in the hole and backfill with soil, then water deeply. 

For the remainder of the sunflower’s life, make sure to keep the soil moist and fertilize regularly. With proper care, you should have beautiful sunflowers in no time!

When to harvest sunflower seeds in Ohio

When sunflower seeds are ready to be harvested, the back of the flower head will be dry and start to turn brown. The individual seeds will be dry and firm. The green husks surrounding the seeds will have turned yellow or white and begun to dry out. To check if the seeds are ready to be harvested, lightly pinch the seed head between your thumb and forefinger. If the husks break open easily, the seeds are ready to harvest.

Harvesting sunflower seeds is easy. Cut the flower head off the stem and spread it out on a clean surface. To remove the seeds, use your hands to rub the flower head and release the seeds. Collect the seeds in a large bowl or container. Once the seeds are harvested, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Make sure the container is well sealed to keep the seeds from going bad. Sunflower seeds can last for up to a year if stored properly.

Sunflower seeds are delicious and nutritious snack food. They can be eaten raw, toasted, or sprouted. Sunflower seeds are also used in salads, cereals, granola, and energy bars. They are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. Sunflower seeds can also be used to make sunflower seed butter, which is a great alternative to peanut butter. 

In addition to being a healthy snack, sunflower seeds are also used to make birdseed. You can leave your sunflowers intact outside well after the flowers have died to give your local birds a tasty snack!

Cody Medina
Small Scale Farmer
Hi there! I'm Cody, a staff writer here at The Garden Magazine and a small-scale farmer living in Oregon. I've been gardening most of my life and now live on a quarter-acre farmstead with chickens, ducks, and a big garden.