The easiest way to succession plant sunflowers is to grow several single-stem varieties with different days to maturity, planting them all at once, and then harvesting over many weeks. Single-stem varieties are uniform and predictable about bloom times during the main season, and about a week slower in early spring and fall.
Here are the average days to maturity for the most popular single-stem commercial varieties:
- ProCut Series — 50-60 days to bloom
- Sunrich Orange Summer (Sunrich Series) — 50-60 days to bloom
- Sunrich Series — 60-70 days to bloom
- Sun Series — 70-80 days to bloom
By planting some of each variety, you can have sunflowers blooming for a month from a single planting date. Thus, you need to start seeds once a month, rather than every 10 days, as would be required if you grew only one variety. For example, start some of each series on March 1. ProCuts will be ready April 20-30; Sunrich will be ready April 20 to May 10; and Sun Series will be ready May 10-20. Do a second sowing of each variety on April 1 and that planting will begin to bloom May 20 and continue through June 20. By repeating each month, you can have sunflowers ready for harvest all summer.
Lynn Byczynski is the editor of Growing for Market and the publisher of The Hoophouse Handbook.