Most people love sunflowers due to their yellow flowers. Whereas that’s what many know, that’s not the only colour to expect from this plant.
Others are white, green, and rusty red. Regardless of the colour, whether by choice or design, it is important to take care of this plant for it to blossom.
For instance, ensure that you add compost to the soil. Will sunflowers grow in ericaceous compost?
That’s a great question to ensure your efforts don’t go to waste. After all, you can’t afford to get it wrong when choosing the right compost for your sunflowers.
What Compost is Best for Sunflowers?
It is no secret that sunflowers can grow in different types of compost. However, as a wise gardener, it is always important to choose the right one.
Here are some of the things worth considering when choosing the best compost for your sunflowers;
Don’t assume that sunflower will withstand everything you throw because it is a handy plant. Despite its high adaptability, it may not survive if the soil has a lot of moisture.
If you want your sunflowers to thrive, ensure that your compost is low in peat. Otherwise, the plants will suffer due to too much water.
Plenty of Nutrients
Sunflowers are quite demanding regarding the nutrients they need to survive, let alone thrive. Therefore, any gardener looking for high yields will ensure that the compost offers that.
The plants also have long tap roots and hence require a lot of food. If the compost contains organic materials, it will fit the bill excellently.
Another great addition to any compost you plan to use to grow sunflowers is sand. That’s because it improves the soil’s drainage, one of the conditions under which this plant thrives.
If you are planting sunflowers in a pot, it is advisable to insert rocks at its base. Since sandy soil doesn’t retain much moisture, expect sunflowers to grow excellently under such circumstances.
High pH Value
The most suitable pH level when growing sunflowers ranges from 6 to 7.5. that’s because it flourishes in highly alkaline soil.
Therefore, ensure that the compost you choose that maintains that alkalinity. Otherwise, the plant may not grow as expected.
Will Sunflowers Grow in Ericaceous Compost
As mentioned earlier, sunflowers thrive in soils with a pH of 6 to 7.5. Therefore, it may not be wise to use any compost that may jeopardize that.
Unfortunately, that’s not what to expect from ericaceous compost. It is acidic with a pH level of between 4 and 5.
Therefore, don’t add this compost to boost your sunflowers’ growth. They may survive because they easily adapt to almost every condition, but it may be hard for the plants to thrive.
Nevertheless, there are times when the ericaceous compost comes in handy. That’s because too much alkalinity is also not ideal for growing sunflowers.
Consequently, use this compost to lower it to the ideal level. If it exceeds 7.5, introduce ericaceous compost to lower it accordingly.
The bottom line is that there are better choices to grow sunflowers. However, if the pH levels are higher than the ideal figure, take advantage of its acidity to lower it.
Do Sunflowers Like Acidic or Alkaline Soil?
Sunflowers are plants that lean more towards alkaline soil than their acidic counterparts. It is the major reason it isn’t advisable to introduce ericaceous compost.
However, ensure that the soil isn’t too alkaline. That’s because too much of it is also unsuitable for the occasion.
For the record, the best pH value should be between 6 and 7.5. So, if it is outside that range, a gardener should consider adjusting it accordingly.
What Can I Grow in Ericaceous Compost?
Unlike sunflowers, some plants thrive in acidic soils. Therefore, adding ericaceous compost will be good for the plants.
The plants you can grow in this compost include the following;
- Rhododendrons such as pieris, camellias and azaleas
- Summer-flowering heather (Calluna)
Tips When Growing Sunflowers
Besides using the best compost, these tips help your sunflowers thrive further;
- Practice staggering planting to ensure that your sunflowers blossom until frost begins. Every 2 or 3 weeks is a great interval.
- The ideal soil temperature ranges from 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit
- Ensure that the soils are relatively alkaline with plenty of nutrients
- The ideal distance between two sunflowers is 6 inches
- Because of the long tap roots, ensure that the seeds are between 1 and 2 inches deep
- They do well if the area isn’t too windy
- However, if that’s unavoidable, consider planting the sunflowers near a building or along the fence to ensure they don’t fall.
- Alternatively, tie their stem to bamboo sticks to serve as anchors
- Plant the plants on the garden’s north side to prevent them from shadowing neighboring plants.
- Remember that the flowers face east as soon as the flower opens
- Sunflowers need 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily
- Preferably, plant them in April or May
- Whereas old sunflower plants can survive droughts, their younger counterparts require frequent watering
Common Sunflower Varieties
For great yield, consider the following sunflower varieties;
- Sunflower ‘Dwarf Yellow Spray’ is usually bushy plants and 60cm or 2ft tall, with yellow flowers
- Sunflower ‘Teddy Bear’ is usually 50cm or 20in tall, and their flowers are round double yellow pompom
- Sunflower ‘Earth Walker’ is usually 1.8m or 6ft tall, and flowers in hues of yellow, bronze, and orange
- Sunflower ‘Red Sun’ is also 1.8m or 6ft tall, with deep red flowers and the centers are almost black
- Sunflower ‘Valentine’ is usually 1.5m or 5ft tall, and creamy yellow flowers
- Sunflower ‘Velvet Queen’ is usually 1.8m or 6ft tall, and deep red flowers
Sunflower ‘Russian Giant’ usually 3m or 10ft tall, and bright golden-yellow flowers
Common Sunflowers Pests
As you cultivate these plants, look out for the following;
- Rust and mildews, among other fungal diseases
You can control these pests in these ways;
- Ensuring that the garden has no plant debris or weed during the fall
- Net your planted seeds until they germinate
- Use cheesecloth or any other light fabric to cover the flowers
- Eliminate leaves near the flowers to prevent birds from perching easily
- Pick and mash any worm egg you come across
- Get rid of any leaf thars seriously infected with fungal diseases