Sunflowers are great ornamentals to have in gardens. Their bright, cheerful coloring can add vibrancy to your home, and they are excellent for attracting birds to feeders and bringing us closer to nature.
If you’re contemplating when to plant sunflowers in Missouri, know that the ideal time to grow a sunflower field here is April to July, with earlier planting in spring producing higher yields than June or July seeding.
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Best Time to Plant Sunflowers in Missouri
Sunflower growing season begins after the last frost if you choose to start seeds outdoors.
Following this rule, residents of Missouri can plant sunflowers during early to mid-April, considering that the state’s final frost ranges from April 5 to April 20 on average.
Meanwhile, those who prefer to garden indoors can put seeds in pots much earlier, approximately four to six weeks before the last bout of spring snow arrives. This makes February and March the months for planting sunflowers indoors, depending on where you live.
Note that if you grow sunflowers from sunflower seeds for doves, it is best to do so before May 1 so that the plants can mature before the hunting season begins. There are two seeding methods people often use in this case: drilling and broadcast planting sunflowers.
- If you opt for drilling, follow a seeding rate of five to six pounds per acre, but increase the sowing density to eight to ten pounds per the same area if you broadcast the seeds.
- While you’re at it, make your sunflower field five acres in size if possible, but two acres should also suffice in attracting these birds.
Just as importantly, remember that sunflowers are vulnerable to frost damage during their pollination and budding stages, so it’s essential that these plants get to mature before winter freeze arrives.
Looking at USDA growing zones, we’ll see that Missouri spans hardiness zone 5 to 7, where the first frost often falls on October 17.
Hence, it makes sense to plant sunflower seeds in the state by the end of July at the latest, or mid-July for northern Missouri, considering that these plants take 60 days to mature, even for fast-growing cultivars.
This recommendation also makes sense if you look at the extreme temperatures in Missouri. Even in zone 7, where the climate is warmer, winter temperatures can reach 0 to 10℉, way below the limit of mature sunflowers at 25℉.
Best Sunflowers to Plant in Missouri
When it comes to planting sunflower field, you can pick your varieties according to their size.
Dwarf sunflowers will reach three feet tall at most, while semi-dwarf types can grow up to five feet in height. Giant sunflowers are the most extensive, capable of going up to 20 feet vertically.
Generally speaking, gardeners who want to grow dwarf and semi-dwarf plants should opt for Teddy Bear and Sunspot sunflowers, which are great for patios and containers.
Giant varieties, meanwhile, include names such as Mammoth Russian, American Giant, and Mammoth Grey Striped. These all measure 10 feet or higher and will do best in garden beds instead of pots.
Note that other things to consider when selecting varieties are your planting time and what you intend to use the flowers for. For late-season planting, Autumn Beauty, Ring of Fire, and Crimson Queen are excellent choices.
Meanwhile, those who want cut flowers should grow varieties like Sonja and Jade, whose blooms measure four to five inches wide and look spectacular in vases.
To collect seeds for use as snacks, giant sunflowers are the best, especially if they have striped hulls.
Uses of Sunflower
Sunflowers have many uses, such as:
- Cooking oil
Sunflower oil is high in polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat. It also contains omega-6s, making it a pretty healthy oil for cooking.
- Seeds for birds and human consumption
Sunflower seeds attract dozens of bird species, such as finches and woodpeckers. While birds prefer black oil sunflower seeds, gray and white varieties are better for human consumption due to their taste.
- Cover crop
Though people largely think of sunflowers in terms of their beauty or culinary applications, these plants can also serve as cover crops. As a matter of fact, their deep roots can reduce erosion, break up the soil, and lower salinity.
These are the reasons why farmers grow sunflowers and let them die—the natural manure borne out of this process helps make the ground more fertile.
- Livestock feed
People have used sunflowers to feed pigs, sheep, goats, and cows. They can be cut as silage and provide a high level of protein.
Best time to plant Sunflower in other states:
Frequently Asked Questions
Do sunflowers grow well in Missouri?
Yes. Sunflowers do grow well in Missouri. Each land acre here can produce 1,000 pounds of the plant, if not more.
How long do sunflowers last in Missouri?
Sunflowers will come back every year if they are perennials. Examples of these types are swamp, willowleaf, and woodland sunflowers.
Most varieties people grow are annuals, however. Regardless of type, you can expect blooms to appear in summer and fall, around July to October for most parts of the state, and up until early November in the southeastern tip.
How late can you plant sunflowers in Missouri?
July is generally the latest time to plant sunflowers in Missouri. That said, I recommend looking up your cultivar’s days to maturity and counting backward from the first frost so that your sunflower planting dates don’t happen too late.
If your variety takes 120 days to mature and the first frost is in October, it’s necessary to start seeding in June.
How long do sunflowers take to grow?
The general estimate is 60 to 120 days. Here are the days to maturity for some popular sunflower varieties:
- Teddy Bear – 65 to 75 days
- Russian Mammoth – 80 days
- Autumn Beauty – 60 days
- Sonja – 90 days
Knowing what month to seed or when to plant sunflowers in Missouri will help you enjoy their benefits, whether you’re growing sunflowers as decoration, livestock feed, or as a source of seeds and vegetable oil.
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