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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.