Its name is the sunflower, and it looks splendid in the sun. Sunflower is a popular flower among gardeners.
Sunflowers are a reasonably fast-growing plant that takes only 85 to 95 days to mature depending on species. The flower of this plant can be yellow, orange, red, brown, and maroon, but its most common flower color is yellow. The plant can reach a height of 16 feet, while the flowerhead can spread up to 12 inches.
One unique feature the sunflower exhibits is their heliotropism. This is when the flowers of a plant turn to face the sun at every point in the day. For the sunflower, however, this happens in its early stages before its flowers become heavy with seed.
With thousands of gardeners growing this beautiful plant, the need for stress-free growth is essential.
How can you achieve this?
You can achieve a healthy plant, beautiful gardening, and a stress-free planting process through companion planting.
What is Companion Planting?
Put simply; companion planting is growing specific plants close to each other so that they can help each other grow well or look better.
Although humans have been privy to the benefits of having companions for a long time now, humans did not start companionship in plants. Plants knew the value of companionship as their companion planting began in the wild thousands of years ago.
Plants would grow close to other beneficial plants providing each other protection, better-growing conditions, and increase aesthetics.
Companion planting for sunflowers is not any different. Plants like vines that need trellises to grow on can do with the height of the sunflower plant. This among several other reasons which we’ll be looking at soon is the reason why companion planting for sunflowers is necessary if you want the best growth.
Best Sunflower Companion Plants
I’ll be showing you some of the best sunflower companion plants that you can grow in your garden. I’ll also match the companion plants with their benefits from or to the sunflower.
1. Shade-Loving Sunflower Companion Plants
Sunflowers can grow up to 16 feet tall. This shows you they are massive and can provide shade to shade-loving plants.
The plant size, the spread of the flower, alongside the heliotropism sunflower exhibits, makes it perfect for shade-loving plants. Instead of spending resources fixing a cover for these plants, it is cheaper and more aesthetically pleasing to use the shade from the sunflowers.
You can strategically plant your sunflower in the east, west, and southern corners of the plant needing the shade. This will provide the optimum shade for the plant throughout the day. Planting in all three locations can sometimes not be feasible; in such situations, plant on the west side to protect the plant from the scorching afternoon sun.
Example of Plants
2. As Support to Plants
Many plants need support systems around them to grow properly. Plants like vines like to creep and need trellises to grow on. These trellises help keep them above grown, saving space and helping them grow better in the process.
Imagine the cost of setting up trellises in your garden for these creeping plants. Imagine the resources it’ll take to set up. Consider the unpleasant site of seeing trellises everywhere in your modern backyard garden.
All these challenges can be surmounted without stress by using sunflowers as trellises in your garden.
Before choosing to use sunflower as a trellis in your garden, you should ensure the plant will be comfortable growing under the shade the sunflower will form on it. You should also make sure you grow the stronger, more robust sunflowers species, so they can carry the weight of the plant and not break.
Example of Plants
- Beans: grow single-flowered sunflowers
- Cucumber: grow multi-flowered sunflowers for best support
3. Sunflowers as Pollinator Attractors
Pollination may only occur a few times a year, but it is highly beneficial to the yield of your plant. Without pollination, most plants cannot reproduce, and you know the damage that will cause in the world.
Sunflowers are natural pollinator-attracting plants and will bring bees and butterflies to your garden.
Not only do you get to enjoy the sight of beautiful butterflies gliding through your garden, but you will also be helping other plants that need pollination in your garden but are not so adept at drawing pollinators.
Other plants in your garden will benefit immensely from having the excellent pollinator (sunflower) around them. This means more yield for you and more food for the world.
Example of Plants
4. Companion Sunflower Plants with Similar Soil Conditions
Soil condition is a critical factor in companion planting, even more so when it comes to sunflower companion plants.
The ideal pH of the soil for sunflower planting ranges from 6.5 to 7.5, and it is crucial any companion plant you intend to grow can thrive under this same pH condition. Anything short of that then, one of the plants will suffer.
Sunflower needs well-draining soil that is moist but not soggy. The companion plant must be comfortable in these conditions before being considered. Growing companion plants with similar soil conditions make the planting and growing process more comfortable as you do not need to provide special conditions for each to grow.
Example of Plants
- Bush beans
- Green beans
5. Plants that Suffer from Aphids Attack
Aphids are damaging plant pests that destroy crops and render your planting struggles useless. How do you combat this ruthless pest in your gardening?
Now, this idea I’m about to show you should only be used if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of your sunflower to protect your garden. Do not worry; barring a heavy infestation, your sunflowers should be fine.
It would be best if you grew sunflowers close to plants that are usually attacked by aphids to divert the attention of the aphids from the other plant to the sunflower. That sounds counter-productive.
Hear me out.
Sunflowers have thick stalks and are generally tough. Even though aphids like attacking sunflowers, they usually do minimal damage because of this defense mechanism. So, trying to distract the aphids and making them focus their attention on where they’re likely to do minimal damage can be beneficial to your farm.
Examples of Plants
What NOT to Plant with Sunflower?
Knowing what to plant with sunflowers for optimum growth is one thing, but you must know what to avoid, so you do not harm your sunflower.
Sunflowers are allelopathic; which means they release toxins that may harm other plants and reduce the germination and growth rate of some plants. Although these toxins do not affect humans, it can significantly reduce the growth of some plants.
Example of Plants
- Carnivorous plants
Sunflowers are brightly colored and will adorn your garden spectacularly if you give them a chance.
Pairing them with other beneficial plants will only increase the appeal of growing this plant. Although its allelopathic characteristics might be a turn off for some, you can still grow some sunflower companion plants close to the sunflower without issues.
Have you had any issues growing other plants close to sunflowers due to their allelopathic nature? Tell us about it in the comment.