Sunflowers may not be the representative plant of Michigan, but that doesn’t mean they don’t grow well in the Great Lakes state.
If you live in MI, you likely know all about the sunflower fields Michigan has to offer. From Three Rivers, Benton Harbor, to elsewhere, it’s hard to miss the sight of them, especially in July through September, when sunflowers bloom beautifully.
So when to plant sunflowers in Michigan? The growing season for them here is around April to early June.
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Best Time to Plant Sunflowers in Michigan
Young sunflowers cannot survive frost without damage, so it’s essential that you plant them when the weather is warm.
- In practice, the best time of year for growing sunflowers outdoors is after the last spring In Michigan, this timeframe would be around late May or early June.
- However, if you cannot wait until then, it’s possible to grow sunflowers indoors two to four weeks earlier, or in late April to early May.
Still, it pays to look up your frost dates and not solely rely on these estimates. Doing so will help you narrow down the precise date for sowing sunflower seeds.
To illustrate, Benton Harbor in Michigan has its final frost on May 14.
- Therefore, residents here can plant sunflowers on May 15 at the earliest.
- At the same time, delaying planting by one to two weeks may be better, as frost dates are not always accurate. In this case, outdoor seeding will begin on May 22 or May 29.
- Lastly, since two to four weeks before May 14 equals April 16 to April 30, people in Benton Harbor can grow indoor sunflowers in pots from mid-April onwards.
How to Grow Sunflowers
Now that you know when to grow sunflowers in Michigan, check out the tips for cultivating them below.
1. Where to plant
Sunflowers prefer soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. It is also best if the planting medium is loamy and well-drained.
Can sunflowers grow in clay soil? They can, but not well. Clay soil may be too soggy or too compact, so it’s the opposite of what sunflowers want. If you have no other option, mix it with some loamy soil first.
When planting sunflowers, give them at least six hours of sunlight. It is also best to seed them directly into the garden bed and not pots, as sunflowers are difficult to transplant due to their sensitive roots.
If containers are necessary, go for biodegradable ones—the bigger they are, the better, since sunflowers can grow very high (reaching 6 to 15 inches and even taller).
2. How to sow seeds
How deep to plant sunflowers? Sow them at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch. If using pots, put up to three seeds in each container and remove the weak seedlings once they appear.
Then, harden off your plant for at least seven days before moving it outdoors. You can check out the video below for tips on doing so.
When sowing sunflowers outside, space them 6 inches apart. For both indoor and outdoor gardening, irrigate the soil to keep it moist.
Note that the 6-inch above is only a general estimate; the ideal spacing will change depending on the variety you grow. For instance, Autumn Beauty sunflowers should be 18 inches apart, while Mammoth ones will require 24 inches or two feet of distance.
I also recommend using compost to nurture the plant, but you can use a nitrogen or phosphorus fertilizer if the soil lacks these nutrients.
Last but not least, give sunflowers the proper temperatures for germination (which is around 45 to 50℉).
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best month to plant sunflowers?
Generally, the ideal plant time for sunflowers is between March and May. How late or early you can grow them depends on your frost dates. Earlier last frosts mean earlier gardening time, for instance.
Do sunflowers come back every year?
Sunflowers are largely annual, so don’t expect them to come back every year. The only exception to this rule is perennial sunflowers, such as the Swamp, Maximilian, and Willowleaf varieties.
How long do sunflowers take to grow?
Sunflowers will mature within 80 to 120 days. That said, you can find some cultivars that finish growing in a lot less time. Examples are the Sunright Supreme (which takes 60 to 70 days to mature) and the Big Smile variety (which blooms within 60 days).
How late to plant sunflowers in Michigan?
How late your sunflower season in Michigan ends depends on the first frost where you live and the maturation period of your plant variety.
If you want to sow sunflowers after spring, it’s vital to let them complete growing before the cold season begins.
Suppose your first frost is on October 8. If you grow Soraya sunflowers, which take 90 days to mature, the latest date you can start seeds will be July 10.
In this case, planting sunflowers in August would be impossible, unless you can find a variety that matures more quickly and suits Michigan climate.
What are some sunflower varieties for Michigan?
When planting sunflowers in Michigan, consider the following cultivars, which can grow well in the state:
- Prado Red
- Moulin Rouge
Related post: The best time to plant sunflowers in:
Hopefully, you now know when to plant sunflowers in Michigan. As long as you follow our tips above, your sunflowers will mature without being killed by cold temperatures.
If you find this article helpful, please share it with other people as well. Have fun gardening!