Create your own sunshine with Sunflowers

September 12, 2019

Growing Sunflowers

With their large blooms and bright, happy colour, nothing screams Summer like Sunflowers! Some of these fascinating flowers can grow up to 5m tall, though there are plenty of dwarf varieties to suit small gardens and container growing.

Sunflowers just love soaking up those rays – so much so that they track the sun through the sky as they’re maturing! Sunflowers also attract bees and butterflies to your garden – and to top it all off, they're exceptionally easy to grow, making them ideal for kids too.

Most varieties of sunflower will take anywhere from 8, 10 or even 12 weeks to get from seedling stage to flowering. Your seed packet will outline how long your variety takes. You will know when it is prime sowing time when the soil is warm, at least 21°C, too cool of a soil and your seeds may struggle to germinate.

Sunflower tips & tricks

  • Sunflowers grow best in full sun (at least 6-8 hours per day) in a spot that is sheltered from strong winds – along a fence or near a building is ideal. If your site is particularly windy or your plant becomes top heavy, it will require staking.
  • Tall varieties have long tap roots that need plenty of soil depth to stretch out. To help them along, ensure your soil is well-dug, a strong garden fork is our tool of choice to prepare the soil. Start by loosening the soil across and then down to a depth of about 60cm, removing any rocks or competing roots.
  • Sunflowers are heavy feeders, so the soil needs to be nutrient-rich with organic matter or composted manure – or you can add a sprinkling of slow release fertiliser if you prefer.
  • Dwarf varieties will happily grow in pots placed in a sunny position. Fill your pot with a quality potting mix that is well draining and has some added nutrition.
  • It’s best to sow sunflower seeds directly into the soil when the danger of frost has passed. Transplanting sunflowers can damage their tap root and will set back their growth. If you need to start in pots, try a compostable one such as a Jiffy so that it can be planted pot and all, eliminating the risk of transplant shock.
  • Give plants plenty of room, especially for low-growing varieties that will branch out. Stagger plantings over 5 to 6 weeks to keep enjoying continuous blooms – or pick varieties that grow multiple heads such as Double Delight F1 or Lemon Striker F1.
  • Protect young seedlings from pests by placing a mesh cover over your sowing site or use some slug and snail pellets. Once the plants are large enough they will resist these attacks.
  • While the plant is small, water regularly around the roots. Once it’s established, water more deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root development. You can also add a liquid feed to your watering every couple of weeks to give them an extra boost, try a feed that has a good amount of potassium for flower development. Keep any liquid feeds directly off the stem to prevent rotting.
  • Tall species will require support, so tie the plant to a stake as it grows. We like to use strips of old tshirt or stockings to secure the sunflower; this will ensure the stem isn’t damaged.
  • Sunflowers make great cut flowers, or if left to produce seeds they will attract birds to your garden. If you want to harvest the seeds for snacks ensure you protect the flower heads with netting before the birds find them. Let the flower head turn brown and dry off before harvesting the mature seeds. Often single flower varieties are best for this purpose such as our Giant Single.

Most popular varieties include: Giant Russian (1.8 – 3m), Royal Velvet (1.5m), Golden Prominence (1.5m), Double Delight (50cm), Teddy Bear (50cm), Dwarf Sunsation (50cm) and Eos (25cm).

See the full range of Sunflower seeds and all-in-one kits here.