Growing sunflowers in Texas is an incredibly rewarding experience. Not only are they stunning to look at, but they are also a hardy and easy crop to grow in Texas’s diverse climate and soils. Sunflowers are a great way to bring natural beauty to any Texas garden or landscape.
They provide plenty of colors and can be grown in a variety of ways, from traditional seed planting to container gardening. Thanks to the plentiful sunshine in Texas, sunflowers are easy to care for and thrive in the region. They are a great source of food for wildlife, and their beauty and cheerfulness are a surefire way to brighten up any landscape.
Texas climate and growing zones
Zone 6 is found in the northeastern part of the state and has cold winters and hot summers, with temperatures in the winter dropping to -10°F and highs in the summer reaching 90°F. This zone is suitable for growing cold-hardy plants such as apples, pears, and cherries.
Zone 7 is found in the southern, central part of the state and has mild winters and hot summers, with temperatures in the winter hovering around 25°F and highs in the summer reaching 95°F. This zone is suitable for growing heat-tolerant plants such as figs, pomegranates, and persimmons.
Zone 8 is found in the western and southwestern parts of the state and has mild winters and hot summers, with temperatures in the winter ranging from 25-30°F and highs in the summer reaching 100°F. This zone is suitable for growing drought-tolerant plants such as grapes, olives, and avocados.
Zone 9a is found in the extreme southwestern part of the state and has mild winters and hot summers, with temperatures in the winter ranging from 30-40°F and highs in the summer reaching 105°F. This zone is suitable for growing subtropical plants such as citrus, papayas, and mangoes.
Growing sunflowers in Texas
Growing sunflowers in Texas can be a rewarding gardening experience for both novice and seasoned gardeners. With its warm, sunny climate, Texas is an ideal location for growing sunflowers. For those who live in the northern parts of Texas, however, the cold climate can be a challenge. Sunflowers are a warm-season annual, meaning they are best planted in late spring or early summer when temperatures are consistently warm and the danger of frost has passed.
In the north of Texas, this may be as late as the end of May or early June. Sunflowers prefer full sun and require 6-8 hours of sunlight each day to flourish. They also prefer well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0. In southern parts of Texas, the warm climate allows for a longer sunflower growing season than in the north. Sunflowers may be planted as early as mid-April in the south and can be planted as late as August. Sunflowers grown in the south are also less susceptible to cold weather damage than those grown in the north, as temperatures rarely dip below freezing.
When planting sunflowers in Texas, it is important to take into consideration the various climatic and soil conditions throughout the state. In the north, it is best to wait until the danger of frost has passed before planting and to provide additional protection from cold weather with blankets or cold frames. In the south, sunflowers may be planted earlier and are less likely to suffer from cold weather damage.
Some of my favorite varieties of sunflower include:
- Mammoth Grey Stripe Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 75-100 days to maturity
- Teddy Bear Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 60-90 days to maturity
- Red Sun (Helianthus annuus) – 65-95 days to maturity
- Autumn Beauty Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 75-90 days to maturity
- Lemon Queen Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 75-95 days to maturity
- Velvet Queen Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 90-110 days to maturity
- Dwarf Sunspot Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 60-90 days to maturity
- Giant Sungold Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 85-110 days to maturity
- Evening Sun Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 75-95 days to maturity
- Sundance Kid Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – 75-95 days to maturity
When to start sunflowers indoors in Texas
Sunflower seeds should be started indoors 4 weeks before your final frost date. In Texas, the final frost dates are:
- Zone 6: Around April 21
- Zone 7: Around April 3
- Zone 8: Around March 28th
- Zone 9: Around February 28th
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 6: Around March 24th
- Zone 7: Around March 6th
- Zone 8: Around February 27th
- Zone 9: Around January 31st
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 Texas
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 Texas
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!