Environment Magazine

Why Are My Sunflowers Dying and How To Save Them?

Posted on the 13 February 2021 by Rinkesh @ThinkDevGrow

Why Are My Sunflowers Dying?

Sunflowers are gorgeous, and a must-have in every garden. Available in various colors and sizes, they are enough to cheer up even dreary gardens. From oils to seeds, sunflowers are useful in several possible ways.

Talking about uses, they attract bees that are essential for every garden. Some sunflowers can grow as tall as 10 feet. Truly, these hardy flowers can grow just anywhere. There are so many varieties that you can use them for various purposes. Small varieties can be used as borders to make your garden appear even more beautiful. Teddy bear sunflower, in particular, is small, bushy, and hardy.

dying-mexican-sunflower

If you want to get creative, you can grow sunflowers just for their seeds. Not only will it make you smile every day, but the seeds are a big bonus. You could feed the seeds to birds or consume them yourself. Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamins. You can use them in salads after roasting them or remove the coating and enjoy them raw.

Even beginners can grow sunflowers because they require less maintenance. However, you could run into trouble every once in a while. The leaves of your sunflower plants may start falling off without reason. Or, the flowers could start changing colors. Not to mention the pests lurking around.

Usually, sunflowers bounce back from problems earlier than you expect. But, if you notice that the plants are wilting and dying without any specific reason, you may have to intervene.

5 Common Reasons Why Your Flowers Are Dying

To treat your plants, it’s important to identify the problem. It also depends where you’re growing them. Growing indoors using artificial lights could make them a tad more vulnerable than plants that are growing outdoors. Or, there could be a problem with the fertilizer you’re using. A nutrient deficiency or toxicity? Whatever the reason, you first need to understand why.

Here are a few common problems that could be ailing your precious sunflowers:

1. Overwatering

Plants die for several reasons but overwatering is the most common. Beginners kill plants by overwatering because they assume that the plants will fare well better with a little extra care. Sunflowers, in particular, hate wet feet.

They can’t stand excess water and are very susceptible to root rot. They do boast of deep roots, though. So it makes sense to give them a deep watering regularly, but providing excess water every day is a sure-fire way to kill them. Water only when the topsoil is dry and your sunflowers will thank you for it.

2. Underwatering

It’s very rare to kill your sunflowers by underwatering. This is because they need little water. However, underwatering is possible if you take off somewhere on vacation and neglect the plants completely.

3. Nutrient imbalance

All plants need nutrients to grow. However, just like we humans struggle whenever there’s an excess or lack of nutrients, plants begin struggling too. Out of the many nutrients required, nitrogen is perhaps the most important.

Nitrogen makes the leaves look green and healthy. Lack of nitrogen prevents the stems from becoming strong. The leaves turn yellow and the plant starts dying. Having said that, excessive nitrogen is bad too. It can prevent the plant from forming flowers while it just keeps sprouting too many leaves.

If your sunflower is having a hard time, it’s time to check if there’s a nutrient imbalance.

Check this link. As you can see in the link, there are several reasons why your sunflowers could be wilting or just dying. This applies to all plants. Once you identify the issue, you will need to rectify it by supplying an all-inclusive fertilizer that contains both macro and micronutrients.

4. Sunlight

If there’s something sunflowers need the most, it’s sunlight. They crave for it every single day. If you’re growing indoors, you will need powerful lights that can replace natural sunlight as much as possible. It’s difficult but doable. On the other hand, too much sunlight coupled with hot temperatures is detrimental too.

5. Excessive heat

Yes, sunflowers love the sun. However, it works only if the temperatures are right. Although they grow even if the temperatures hike up to 30°C, they will begin to wilt after that. Use a green shade net or something similar to prevent the plants from scorching sunlight. You could also use an air -conditioner or a fan to reduce the heat indoors.

How Do You Know When A Sunflower is Dying?

As mentioned earlier, there are a variety of problems that can plague your pretty sunflowers. If you identify them early, the plants will bounce back. However, if you fail to correct mistakes, the plant may start dying. How do you recognize if it’s dying? Well, primarily, the leaves will turn yellow. This could be a nitrogen deficiency, overwatering, or the plant could simply be aging.

Next, you might see stunted growth. New tips will be abnormal and look like they stopped growing abruptly. Pretty soon, the plant will begin shedding leaves. The leaves, apart from turning yellow, may also turn brown or black depending on the issue. If the plants are overwatered, they will begin to wilt too. Same if they are under-watered. If there’s a root rot or mold, however, it might be too late.

How To Save Dying Sunflowers?

To save your sunflowers, you will need to identify the issue plaguing them. Check the undersides of the leaves first to see if pests are causing the problem. Pests including aphids, mealybugs, spider mites and thrips are the ones to look out for. If you see pests, make your own pesticide at home or use a commercial one.

To make one at home, combine a few drops of any dish-washing liquid with 1 liter of water. Next, add 5 ml of Neem oil to the mixture. Don’t add too much Neem or you’ll kill the plants. If there are way too many pests that you can handle, purchase a commercial pesticide to revive the plants.

Sunflowers may begin dying if there’s a lack of sunlight. In such situations, you will need to move the plants outside if you’re growing them indoors. They usually need at least 8-10 hours of bright sunlight to develop large showy flowers.

If the plants are constantly drooping, it could be an issue with over or under-watering. Or, it could be excessive heat too. Basically, you only need to water the plants when the soil is completely dry. Lift the container to see if it’s light, and then water.

If the problem is due to an imbalance in nutrients, purchase a fertilizer containing both macro and micronutrients. There are many ways to make your own fertilizer at home. The easiest is to make compost, so the plants get everything they need.

Sunflowers produce way too many blooms when they are happy. They will do well if you remove dead blooms. The plant grows faster this way. You could also remove dead leaves that don’t serve any purpose. If you reside in a location that gets too cold, you may have to take the plants inside to protect them. Sunflowers usually do not survive frost.

When is the Best Time to Fertilize Sunflowers?

Sunflowers are hardy plants. They will grow anywhere with very little maintenance. If you’re lucky enough to own some land, it’s best to plant the seeds directly in the soil. If you’re using containers to grow them, however, make sure you use a potting mix that’s loose and easy to drain. Potting mixes play an important role in the development of the plant. And it makes sense to use something the plant likes while planting, rather than trying to fix the issue later.

To make a good potting mix, use coco coir, compost, worm castings, or vermicompost and perlite. Mix them all. A generous amount of bone meal will also prove to be amazing for sunflowers because they produce many blooms.

Mixing sand in your potting mix will also help to improve drainage. Whatever you do, just make sure that the plants don’t sit in soil that retains too much water. Ultimately, it will lead to root rot.

If you cannot make your own potting mix, purchase one online or at your local nursery. Epsoma contains worm castings and compost, so you could try that. Or, you can add everything yourself by purchasing them separately.

If the soil contains a good mix of nutrients, there’s no need to add fertilizers throughout the growing season. If you see that the plant is struggling, though, you can add an NPK fertilizer or anything organic to help the plants.

Adding compost frequently will work really well. Unlike commercial fertilizers that do more harm than good when overused, compost will not pose any problems. You can also try chicken manure while planting the seeds. Adding cow and horse manure just before the plant starts blooming will be extremely beneficial. Use well-rotted manure because fresh manure can cause issues.

How Often Should Sunflowers be Watered?

If your plants are in the ground, you only need to water them twice a week. Just about an inch of watering every week is recommended. You’ll need to follow different schedules depending on the stage of growth.

For instance, they will need lots of water at the beginning. You will need to water the seeds every day to ensure they are moist. If they dry out, they will not germinate. Also, make sure the soil is moist, and not completely soggy wet, or bone dry. You must maintain a balance to provide ideal conditions.

As the seeds germinate, you will need to water them every day. This is because seedlings need more water compared to mature sunflower plants. However, remember not to overwater them. Overwatering at any stage will kill the plants faster than you can imagine.

If you’re using containers to grow your plants, you can water them at least thrice per week. However, this depends on the type of soil and container you’re using. Just like it’s important to use a well-draining potting mix, you must choose containers that allow all the excess water to drain out.

If in doubt, use fabric pots. They drain water easily and aren’t difficult to maintain. Moreover, anything that doesn’t involve using plastic is good for the environment.

When watering your plants, make sure you get the timing right. Do it when it’s early in the morning or late in the evening. Do not water when there’s bright sunlight because it could burn the leaves. Water the roots thoroughly until you see excess water draining out.

Does My Sunflower Need Protection In The Winter?

Sunflowers hate it when it gets too cold. Thus, you could take the plants indoors when it gets unbearably cold. Or, you can mulch the soil to insulate the roots. Use dry leaves to mulch the soil. Although this doesn’t guarantee anything, your sunflowers will love that extra protection.

In conclusion, even beginners can try their hand with sunflowers. If you want something easy to grow while making your garden all the more beautiful, nothing can beat sunflowers.

dying-mexican-sunflower

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