Why do my sunflowers droop?

Location: Aptos, Ca

Question: We planted a couple rows of sunflowers and they first grew in looking very strong. Now the petals look wilted and some of the flowers stalks are falling over. Why is this and is there a way to fix it?

Answer: This is about the time of year that the flowers have done their jobs and the seeds are beginning to ripen. When this happens, the flower heads droop downwards and the leaves begin to shrivel. It\'s possible that your sunflowers are maturing their seeds and what you see happening with the plant may be perfectly normal. In general, sunflowers need deep roots in order to hold up the tall stalks and heavy flower heads. If your soils is hard and compacted, or if you water lightly instead of deeply, the roots will remain close to the surface of the plant rather than growing deeply and as a result the stalks will begin to topple over under the weight of the flowerheads. Before planting next year, amend the soil with organic matter to loosen it and help it hold moisture and after planting water deeply every 4-5 days to encourage deep roots. Hope this helps your next crop of sunflowers!

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