How to Grow Sunflowers Video

Sunflower Russian Giant from T&M

Growing giant sunflowers is a great way to get children involved in gardening
Image: Sunflower Russian Giant from Thompson & Morgan/Martin Moore

Sunflowers are bright and cheerful annual flowers that are easy to grow from seed. Available in a range of colours from yellow and orange through to deep claret red, they can reach heights of up to two meters tall. 

Ideal for allotments, gardens and as cut flowers, it’s no surprise that they’re a firm family favourite. And birds love them too. Here are our top tips to help you grow prize-winning sunflowers this summer. 

When to sow sunflower seeds

Sunflower 'Italian White' from T&M

Large creamy petals and chocolate brown centres make this sunflower an elegant choice
Image: Sunflower 'Italian White' from Thompson & Morgan

Sunflowers prefer rich, well-drained soil and grow best in a sheltered position in full sun. Seeds can be sown from mid-April until early June, but wait until all chance of frost has passed before sowing them directly in the ground outside. They take about 11-18 weeks from sowing to flowering.

Different varieties grow to different heights, but tall stems will need to be supported with bamboo canes. 

How to grow sunflowers in the ground

Sunflower 'Dwarf Yellow Spray' from T&M

Growing to 60cm, this dwarf sunflower variety makes a striking annual hedge
Image: Sunflower 'Dwarf Yellow Spray' from Thompson & Morgan

Sunflower seeds can be grown straight in the ground where you want them to grow, but wait until late May or early June when there’s no chance of frost. 

  • Weed the ground well and clear any large stones. 
  • Add manure or compost and rake the soil to a fine tilth. 
  • Dig a hole with a trowel.
  • Drop a seed in. 
  • Cover with soil and water well. 
  • Protect young seedlings from slugs and snails. 
  • Add a support stake if you’re growing a tall variety. 

How to grow sunflowers in containers

Sunflower 'Solar Flash' F1 hybrid from T&M

These distinctive gold and bronze sunflowers are perfect for container growing
Image: Sunflower 'Solar Flash' F1 hybrid from T&M

Many gardeners start their sunflowers off in containers to protect them from slugs and snails. You can choose to plant them out in the garden once they’re a bit bigger, or continue to grow them on in a large pot on a sunny patio. 

  • Fill a small pot with fresh multi-purpose compost.
  • Make a hole with your finger.
  • Drop the seed in and cover with soil.
  • Add a label and water well.
  • Pot on to a larger container as the seedling grows.

How to care for sunflowers

Sunflower 'Claret' F1 Hybrid from T&M

Sunflowers come in a range of colours including this gorgeous claret red
Image: Sunflower 'Claret' F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

If you’ve chosen a sunny position that’s sheltered from the wind, your sunflowers will need very little attention apart from lots of water and a little high potassium feed just before they flower. 

At the end of summer, leave the faded flower head intact so the birds can enjoy the seeds. When they’re done, simply pop the whole plant on your compost heap.

How to grow sunflowers from seed - video tutorial

Sunflowers are the perfect flower to get children involved and interested in gardening. Watch our quick video tutorial to see just how easy it is to grow sunflowers in pots or borders.

For helpful tips on growing other types of fruit, vegetables and flowers with children, browse our Kids Grow section where you'll find plenty of inspiration. Find all the sunflower tips and advice you need on our hub page.

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