For the most part, sunflowers are reasonably straightforward plants to grow, but we are all looking for those little tricks to help them grow stronger, taller and healthier.
Something I have heard asked before is “can you feed sunflowers with tomato feed?”.
Will it benefit sunflowers? Or will it be harmful to them? And can you use tomato feed on other plants?
We will take a look at all of these questions here…
Can You Feed Sunflowers With Tomato Feed?
Yes you can. They will love the high potash content tomato feed contains and it should encourage even more vibrant blooms. However, feeding sunflowers tomato feed is only advised AFTER it begins to flower. Use normal plant food to begin with, then as soon as it opens up you can add tomato feed to its diet.
Plant Feeds and Plant Needs
A quick Google search and I found out that in 2019 more than 180 million tonnes of fresh tomatoes were produced.
Tomatoes are the world’s leading vegetables for processing, but more importantly, they are hugely popular with amateur gardeners.
Most of us start out by growing tomatoes.
As you can imagine then, tomato feed is in big demand.
Most plant feeds will give you an N-P-K ratio on the back of a packet. This stands for nitrogen (N), phosphate (P) and potassium (K).
Nitrogen is good for green growth and important to salads and leaves, phosphate is important for root growth and potassium is what plants that have reached the fruiting and flowering stage need.
So for this reason tomato feed has a higher ratio of potassium against nitrogen and phosphate.
Now let us explain exactly why it can be good for sunflowers.
Why is Tomato Feed Good for Sunflowers?
Tomato feed is very versatile, I know some people who literally use it on everything in their gardens.
Now I wouldn’t go that far, but tomato feed can really benefit sunflowers.
Sunflowers are very hungry plants and with regular feeding from rich, well-fed soil, they will grow quicker and bigger.
Sunflowers will love the high potash content found in tomato feed and it should, in theory, promote big beautiful blooms and some stellar growth.
But you don’t want to use tomato feed right from the start on sunflowers. If you do you could end up with uneven growth.
To begin with, use normal plant food to encourage good stem growth before the sunflower opens. Then, as it begins to flower, switch to a high potassium feed, ie tomato feed.
Just be careful not to get any on the leaves as it could cause them to rot.
This leads on to an associated question, “is tomorite good for sunflowers?”
The answer seems to be a resounding yes if these two newspaper stories (above and below) are anything to go by.
Both tell the tale of sunflowers that had reached the height of 13 feet (4m), and the common denominator in the stories?
Both growers said tomorite was the secret to their success…
Can You Use Tomato Feed on Other Plants?
But as I mentioned near the top of this article tomato feed is high in some nutrients (ie potassium) and low in others (ie phosphate), meaning it works well on some plants (quite a few in fact), but there are others it isn’t suitable for.
So what does tomato feed work well on?
It is really good for all plants that grow fruits and vegetables, that you really want to ripen up.
So for instance you can use it on strawberries, peppers, beans, eggplant, chilli, etc, etc.
It is also great for roses, as they need high amounts of potassium for their big, colorful, blooms.
What should it not be used on?
Essentially keep it away from roots and leaves as they will be inclined to seed faster.
It wouldn’t be a good choice for vegetables such as squashes, cucumbers and pumpkins or anything that requires higher concentrations of nitrogen.
I wouldn’t use it for brassicas, peas, beans and salads. It isn’t suitable for ornamental plants either, as they require a more balanced fertilizer.
What is the Best Fertilizer for Sunflowers?
It is important to note that sunflowers do not require fertilization. Many people will tell you that good garden soil, with a neutral pH of somewhere between 6.7 and 7.3, plenty of sun and water when needed is all they require.
By topping up their diet with some slow-acting fertilizer, you can end up with a bigger plant and larger flowers.
If you are going to look for fertilizer for your sunflower, an all-purpose, extended-release variety is a good choice.
I like to put half of the required amount of fertilizer in the soil before planting, then add the other half after about two months.
A small amount of added nitrogen can also contribute to the green growth of sunflower and increase its overall height.
Popular fertilizer brands include Dr. Earth, Miracle Grow, Scotts Osmocote and Botanicare Growilla.
Another way of giving yourself the best possible chance of growing stunning sunflowers is to take a soil test.
Usually, the cost of a soil test is quite low, and the results can tell you the exact nutrients the soil needs, rather than leaving you to guess the levels of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium that is required.
As you can see the answer to the question of “Can you feed sunflowers with tomato feed?” is a resounding yes.
In fact, tomato feed is good for growing many fruits and vegetables and lots of people swear by it.
But remember it isn’t a substitute for good soil, plenty of sunshine and regular watering. If your sunflower doesn’t have the basics then adding tomato feed will have no impact.
But if you give your sunflower the relevant care and attention, and then add some tomato feed in on top of that, you could end up with some stunning blooms!