How to Grow and Care For Teddy Bear Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)


teddy bear sunflower blooming in flower bed

By Jennifer Poindexter

Do you ever grow things in your garden because they do your heart and mind good? This was my reason for investing in teddy bear sunflower seeds.

I knew they would provide certain benefits to my growing area, such as inviting pollinators, but anything that looks fuzzy like a teddy bear just makes our hearts smile.

If you’re interested in growing a feel-good plant (that does provide other benefits to your garden) it’s time to learn how to grow teddy bear sunflowers.

Here’s everything you should know for this process:

Growing Conditions for Teddy Bear Sunflowers

Teddy bear sunflowers get their name due to their bright, fluffy heads. Their fuzziness resembles a teddy bear.

Not only are these flowers heart-warming, but they’re great for smaller growing spaces. When full grown, teddy bear sunflowers max out at four to five feet in height.

Therefore, you may grow them in the ground or in a container. These are annual flowers, so you won’t need a special bed for them.

The main thing is to incorporate them into a growing location that consists of full sunlight and well-draining soil.

It wouldn’t hurt to amend the soil prior to planting to provide all the necessary nutrients the plant needs to get started.

These flowers are also known for being drought tolerant, so if you live in a dryer climate, they still might work for you.

If you can supply these few simple ingredients, you should have what you need to grow teddy bear sunflowers around your home.

teddy bear sungflower seedlings

How to Plant Teddy Bear Sunflowers

Planting teddy bear sunflowers is an easy process. In most areas, you don’t need to start them ahead of the final frost. Instead, they may be sown directly into your growing location.

You should wait until all threats of frost are over and the soil temperature is at least 70-degrees Fahrenheit or greater.

If the soil is too cold, it could keep the seed in dormancy and cause a delay in the germination process. In general, teddy bear sunflower seeds should germinate within two weeks of planting.

Now that you understand these basics, let’s discuss the planting process.

To begin, till up an area with the specified growing conditions. From there, sow the seeds in groups of three.

Plant them approximately a ½ inch deep beneath the soil and lightly cover them. Once planted, keep the soil consistently damp but be mindful not to oversaturate the area.

You don’t want your seeds swimming as this will lead to rot. It’s important that your soil is well-draining. This allows the dirt to hold to necessary moisture while allowing excess to drain away quickly.

It’s also wise to add granular fertilizer at the time of planting. If you amended your soil with compost, you may not need to add this additional boost of nutrients.

The main thing is to ensure your plants have all the nutrients they need to start their life cycle on the right foot.

When the seeds sprout, thin them to where there’s two feet between each plant. This will allow them room to grow and breathe.

This discourages disease from forming and ensures they aren’t competing for nutrients. Continue to water your seedlings until they reach maturity. This is all you need to start growing teddy bear sunflowers around your home or garden.

teddy bear sunflower blooming by walkway

Caring for Teddy Bear Sunflowers

Teddy bear sunflowers are low-maintenance plants which make them a great option for the beginner gardener.

The only things they need are water, deadheading, and mulch. If you can supply these needs, they should do well for you.

When watering teddy bear sunflowers, it’s recommended to water them deeply. This means you’ll water the plants for longer periods of time, fewer days of the week.

Using this method not only reduces the amount of time you spend watering each week, it also encourages the plant to dig its roots into the soil to retrieve water between watering sessions.

In turn, this creates a deeper, stronger root system which usually equates to a healthier plant. When you’re ready to water the sunflowers again, be sure to test the soil.

Stick your finger into the dirt next to the plant. When it’s dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to water deeply again.

If it’s still damp, wait a day or two and test the soil again to know when to water.

One thing you won’t need to do with teddy bear sunflowers is fertilize them. If you add granular fertilizer or amend the soil with compost at the time of planting, these flowers should have what they need to produce throughout the growing season.

You will, however, need to deadhead the blooms. When the blooms are spent, it’s wise to pluck them from the plant, so it can redirect its energy into new blooms instead of wasting it on blooms which are fading.

This should encourage greater bloom production throughout the growing season. Finally, you should mulch around your sunflowers.

Not only will this help keep moisture in around them, but it also helps keep the weeds down as well. Weeds create competition for nutrients around your plants and supply a home for pests and diseases.

This could reduce the amount of time you spend weeding. However, be mindful not to mound the mulch around the flowers as this can cause the stem to rot.

These are the few things you should do to keep your teddy bear sunflowers healthy and thriving throughout the season.

Garden Pests and Diseases Which Impact Teddy Bear Sunflowers

Teddy bear sunflowers do have a few threats you should be aware of in the garden area. The most common disease to impact them is rust.

This is a fungal based issue that can be treated with a fungicide. You should also remove any damaged portions of the plant.

Rust can be deterred by ensuring you grow teddy bear sunflowers in a location with well-draining soil and ample light as this reduces the likelihood of fungal issues developing.

Plus, you may water the plants at their base to avoid soil from splashing on the plant and water the plants earlier in the day to ensure the foliage has plenty of time to dry before the cooler night temperatures set in.

The main pests that impact teddy bear sunflowers are cutworms, aphids, rabbits, squirrels, and birds. Cutworms and aphids may be treated with an insecticide, but be sure to act quickly to avoid a larger infestation.

Rabbits, squirrels, and birds like to eat younger sunflower plants. If this becomes a problem for you, cover the plants with a row cover or bird netting until they become larger and less attractive to these creatures.

These are the few issues you may face when adding teddy bear sunflowers to your garden. Understanding what the threats are may help you stay ahead of them.

How to Pick Teddy Bear Sunflowers

Teddy bear sunflowers begin producing around 75 days after the time you planted the seeds. They produce from the middle of summer until the first frost of the year.

Many people grow them to draw pollinators to their garden but some just enjoy the way they look. If you’d like to add them to a bouquet, it’s important to know how to cut them.

When the heads are full, use a sharp, clean pair of cutting shears and snip the head away from the plant. Ensure the stem is at the desired length and cut at a 45-degree angle.

Place the sunflowers in a basket but be mindful not to overstuff the container to avoid damaging your harvest.

Put the sunflowers in water and enjoy them until the heads begin to fade. You may also harvest seeds from teddy bear sunflowers for either eating or planting.

Wait until the heads die back completely on the stem. Then remove the head from the stem and shake the seeds out into a container.

You must dry the seeds in a dehydrator and store them in an airtight container. Make sure the location is cool and dark to maintain the integrity of the seed.

If you’d like to eat teddy bear sunflower seeds, you may roast them in the oven and enjoy them as a homemade snack.

These are the ways you may enjoy your teddy bear sunflower harvest. These aren’t only beautiful flowers, but they’re functional as well.

Growing teddy bear sunflowers could be a beautiful addition to your growing space, could help increase pollination around your garden, and even provide you with homegrown bouquets or edible seeds.

If you’re interested in growing unique plants that are both aesthetically pleasing and useful, this could be a great addition to your growing space.

Teddy Bear Sunflowers Quick Reference Growing Chart

Teddy Bear Sunflowers
Plant Type Annual flower
Sunlight Full sun
Soil Type Well-draining soil
Soil pH Not specified
Drought Tolerance Yes
Height 4-5 feet
Spacing 2 feet apart
Sowing Method Direct sow
Sowing Time After last frost, soil temperature at least 70°F
Germination Time Approximately 2 weeks
Watering Deep watering, less frequently
Fertilizing Amend soil with compost or use granular fertilizer at planting
Pests Cutworms, aphids, rabbits, squirrels, birds
Diseases Rust
Harvest Time Approximately 75 days after planting
Seed Saving Dry seeds and store in cool, dark, airtight container

Key Takeaways

  • Teddy bear sunflowers are bright, fluffy flowers that grow up to 4-5 feet in height, suitable for smaller spaces and containers.
  • They require full sunlight, well-draining soil, and can tolerate drought conditions.
  • Plant seeds directly in the ground after the last frost, when the soil temperature is at least 70°F.
  • Space the plants 2 feet apart to allow for proper growth and airflow.
  • Teddy bear sunflowers are low-maintenance, requiring water, deadheading, and mulching.
  • Water deeply and less frequently to promote a strong root system.
  • Common pests and diseases include rust, cutworms, aphids, rabbits, squirrels, and birds.
  • Harvest sunflowers after about 75 days for bouquets or seeds.
  • Sunflower seeds can be eaten or saved for planting after proper drying and storage.

Learn More About Teddy Bear Sunflowers

https://extension.psu.edu/sunflowers-helianthus-annuus

https://extension.umn.edu/flowers/sunflowers

https://carteret.ces.ncsu.edu/planting-sunflowers/

The post How to Grow and Care For Teddy Bear Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) appeared first on Gardening Channel.

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