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Sunflowers droop when the stalk isn’t strong enough to support the flower head. This occurs for several reasons including the natural life cycle of the sunflower and how you’re looking after it. I explain these reasons and more and give you some ways to fix and avoid the problem.
Are drooping sunflowers a sign of underwatering?
One of the most common reasons for sunflowers drooping is that the stalk hasn’t received enough water. The pressure of the water in the stalk usually keeps it stiff enough to support the weight of the flower head.
If the leaves of the plant are drooping and becoming wilted as well, then you are under-watering your sunflower. The taller sunflowers especially need strong roots and regular deep watering to keep the entire stalk standing upright. I have to water my giant sunflowers every day once they became established otherwise they began to wilt.
How much should you water sunflowers
Make sure to water your sunflowers regularly through the growing season. Water the sunflowers deeply when the top two inches of soil are dry. Water regularly if you have grown them in pots because they are much more likely to dry out.
How to help prevent it in seedlings
Plant the sunflower seeds in well-drained soil, 2.5cm to 5 cm into the soil (or according to seed packet directions). Water the sunflower seedlings often when they’re germinating.
Read next: How to grow up sunflowers
Is it natural for sunflowers to droop?
If you’re sure that you’re watering your sunflower enough, it may be drooping as part of its natural life cycle. As they bloom and the seeds develop, the flower naturally becomes heavy and even the strongest stalk may not be able to hold that load upright.
This drooping is natural and signifies that the seeds will soon be ready to harvest.
You can’t prevent the head from dropping – this is a great sign that your sunflower growing has been successful. However, if the whole plant is leaning over under the weight of the head, you can use a bamboo cane to stake the main stems to keep them upright.
Do some sunflowers droop more than others?
If your sunflower plant is healthy and not yet mature and the flowers are still drooping, it may be because of the variety of sunflower you’re growing. The flower head becomes heavier as it grows and the stalk cannot support the weight of the growing flower. As long as the stalk isn’t splitting under the weight, the plant is alright.
Tie the head to a fence or other support to ease the strain on the stalk. If it’s the stalk that’s drooping, make sure the plant is well watered and consider tying the stalk to a stake to give it support to remain upright.
Why do young sunflowers droop?
Recently transplanted young sunflowers can suffer transplant shock. Transplanting disturbs the roots of the small plants at the time when the roots are using their limited energy to re-establish themselves in the new ground. The shock can cause the plant to droop.
Although sunflowers, in general, don’t need fertilising, consider adding some slow-release fertiliser to the soil if it’s poor quality. Otherwise, make sure to water the young plants regularly and give them time to recover.
Grow sunflowers from seed directly in your garden if you can. Otherwise, start the seeds indoors in the usual small pots. If you use peat pots, tear off the top part of the pot when you transplant them. This avoids the peat pot taking up water meant for the plant. Also, get the young plants used to being outdoors by acclimatising them before transplanting them into the garden.
Do sunflowers get diseases and insect troubles?
Your sunflower leaves becoming yellow as well as drooping is a sign of an infestation of some kind. Check over your sunflower plants closely for insects such as spider mites and caterpillars or damping off in young plants caused by fungus or mould. Signs of damping-off are the stems and roots of the plant rotting away above and below the soil. This most usually occurs in young plants as mature plants have resistance to the fungus or mould.
If you do find pests, spray with an insecticide soap or pesticide on the plant. If it’s a disease use a fungicide to treat the disease.
However, if you find damping off in young plants, pull them up immediately and throw them away so the fungus doesn’t spread.
Keep the ground around the sunflower clean and free of any debris. Use sterilised soil to propagate your seeds and seedlings; plant the seeds at the right depth and don’t overcrowd them. Pull any suspect plants immediately.
Read next: Why are my sunflowers leaves curling?