Why Are My Sunflowers Dying Or Wilting?

As a farmer, your mission is to keep your plants healthy and growing, right? If they suddenly stop growing, or look like they have health issues, you will want to get them sorted as soon as possible, so you still end up with a gorgeous crop of beautiful flowers and useful seeds.

If you have planted sunflowers; this easy to grow, beautiful plant, you may be wondering why are my sunflowers dying? Let’s have a look into the things you can do to save your plants, and prevent them from wilting or dying in the future.

Why Are My Sunflowers Wilting

why are my sunflowers wilting

One of the most common reasons for a wilting sunflower is lack of water. These hardy plants can withstand a bit of a drought, but prolonged periods without moisture will give them a sad appearance, and can adversely affect their growing.

If your sunflowers have just been re potted or moved, they may have transplant shock. This is where a plant shows its displeasure at being moved from place to place by wilting; this usually passes in a day or two with adequate water and a bit of TLC.

Fungal diseases can also cause drooping and wilting in sunflower plants. Keep an eye on the foliage of your sunflowers and make sure they are coping- in general, if the leaves start to yellow and drop off then you’ve got a serious problem.

As with any plants, pests like slugs and snails can cause problems, especially for young plants. Keep an eye around the base of the plant, and pick off any slimy critters as soon as you see them. Alternatively, you can use slug pellets – but make sure they are the pet and child friendly kind.

Keep an eye out for any sunflower specific pests that may be munching on your sunflowers. There are a few specific pests that gravitate to sunflowers, so have a read up on these beasties and how to combat them.

If you have very tall sunflowers, they may be drooping simply because their heads are too heavy. Sunflowers have huge heads, and sometimes the weight of this can be just a bit too much for the stem to hold up.

Sunflower Pests And Diseases

Luckily for you and other sunflower growers, sunflowers don’t suffer too much with diseases, pests and problems. But, as with any plant, there are a few things you should look out for:

  • Sunflower moths. These little moths lay their eggs directly within the flowers, and the larvae feed on the inside of the flower heads. This moth is one of the most destructive things that can happen to your sunflowers, so make sure to check the inside of the seed heads occasionally!
  • Sunflower borers. As the name implies, these creatures bore into the stems of the sunflower, wreaking havoc on the stems and leaves of the whole plant.
  • Sunflower beetles. A few of these guys on your older plants won’t cause much problem at all, as they only feed in small numbers and only on the leaves, but if they attack your young plants then you may notice it having a huge effect on your sunflowers.
  • Grasshoppers. These jumping creatures do love to nibble on a sunflower leaf or several. While one or two won’t cause a huge problem, if you find yourself with an infestation then you may notice it having an effect on your sunflower crop.
  • Cutworms. These are more of a problem for your younger plants, as an older sunflower will be able to handle the damage to a few leaves, but keep an eye on your young plants as these critter can cause problems.
  • Slugs and snails. These common garden pests can wreak absolute havoc on young plants; they tend not to go for older sunflowers, but they will munch the young seedlings if they are not kept in check.

Sunflowers do not generally suffer from plant diseases, but things to keep an eye out for are:

  • White mold. This can cause wilting of the leaves, as well as cankers on the stems and head.
  • Powdery mildew. This is something that can affect just about any plant, and sunflowers are no exception! Remove affected plants and burn them – do not add them to the compost heap.
  • Rust is another issue that can affect most plants. Keep an eye out for red, discolored patched on the stems, or wilting leaves.

How To Revive A Dying Sunflower

how to revive a dying sunflower

The first thing you should do is make sure the sunflower has enough water. These are thirsty plants, which won’t tolerate being left in a drought.

Next, check the size of the pot – is it big enough? Does it have enough room to spread its roots? Is the soil free draining enough to allow enough water in? If the answer to these questions is no, then your sunflower needs a bigger pot, with well draining soil.

If your sunflower is planted out, check that it’s not the weight of the head that is pulling the plant down – some of the larger varieties grow seriously large heads, that the stems cannot support without a bit of help.

If you have a whole field full of drooping sunflowers, it is essential that you check them for signs of disease, and treat this accordingly.

Check for signs of insect invasions on your plants; there are things you can do if you notice insects attacking them.

Have you ever fed your dying sunflower? If not, it is worth giving them a dose of low nitrogen food, to up their nutrient intake and encourage those beautiful blooms.

Final Words

Sunflowers are a lovely, easygoing and rewarding crop to grow. For just a little effort you get stunning blooms, and abundance of wildlife attracted to said blooms, as well as a large haul of delicious seeds that you can either eat, use as bird food or turn into oil. What a useful plant – and definitely one that you will now be able to keep alive!

Nicky Ellis
Nicky has been an editor at Farm & Animals since 2019. Farm animals have been in her life from her earliest memories, and she learned to ride a horse when she was 5. She is a mom of three who spends all her free time with her family and friends, her mare Joy, or just sipping her favorite cup of tea.

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