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.

Choosing the Right Sunflower for You

Sunflowers are arguably the most cheerful flowers that you can add to your garden, but with such a wide selection to choose from, how can you choose? We’ve created a handy chart to make choosing the perfect sunflower quick and easy.

Variety/Quality Pollen Free Pollinator Attracting Tall
Unique Colour Double Bloom Single Headed Multi-headed
Little Gardeners Giant Sunflower   Y Y       Y  
Supernova F1 Y Y Y   Y   Y  
Golden Prominence F1 Y Y Y   Y   Y  
Lemon Bling F1 Y Y   Y Y     Y
Lemon Striker F1 Y Y Y   Y     Y
Royal Velvet F1 Y Y Y   Y     Y
Double Delight F1 Y Y   Y   Y   Y
Dwarf Sunsation Y Y   Y       Y
Dwarf Eos Y Y   Y       Y
Giant Single   Y Y       Y  
Solar Flash F1 Y Y   Y Y     Y
Sumo Sunny F1 Y Y Y         Y
Teddy Bear   Y   Y   Y   Y
Double Dazzler   Y Y     Y   Y
Microsun F1 Y Y   Y       Y
Tall Timber F1 Y Y Y       Y  

Shop our expansive range of Sunflower seeds and all-in-one kits here.

Pollen Free Varieties

Pollen-free varieties are great for those who experience hay fever but still want bright, cheerful blooms in their garden. The flowers themselves will still attract some bees and butterflies to your garden as they still produce nectar, just won’t produce all that pollen that sends your sinuses into meltdown. Pollen-free can also be a benefit if you intend to use your sunflowers as cut flowers because pollen dust can stain or make a mess indoors. There's still plenty of choice for pollen-free varieties including dwarf or tall plants, and double or single blooms.

Pollinator Attracting

Pollinator-attracting flowers invite bees, butterflies, and birds into the garden and provide a valuable food source from the pollen inside the blooms. Attracting pollinators into your garden with plants such as sunflowers is a great way to ensure crops like tomatoes, citrus plants and pumpkins are pollinated which is necessary for fruiting. All sunflowers will attract butterflies and bees due to their large yellow blooms, and even pollen-free varieties produce nectar, however, to provide bees with the pollen necessary to make honey, opt for a pollinator-attracting variety.

Dwarf or Tall Varieties

Just as it sounds, there are both tall and dwarf sunflower varieties available, but why would you want to grow dwarf sunflowers? Dwarf varieties are great for filling pots and containers, creating borders on garden beds or creating a nice mass display to cover an area of a bed. Taller varieties are great for planting along fence lines, creating a screen or for a tall floral display at the backs of your garden beds. You could even grow dwarf varieties at the front and taller varieties at the back for a cheerful, multilayered display of sunflowers.

Unique Colours

When we think of Sunflowers, our mind immediately thinks of giant yellow blooms, but there are actually various shades of yellow and even red varieties of sunflowers that can add a splash of extra colour to your garden displays. Some varieties such as Lemon Bling and Lemon Striker feature a softer yellow colour while Royal Velvet, Golden Prominence and Solar Flash show deep red and bronze colours in their flowers. There are also some sunflowers with deep brown centres whilst others have yellow, green or yellow centres.

Single, Double and Multi-Headed Blooms

Sunflowers can surprise us with a sense of achievement when they grow super tall and burst open with one giant flower at the top of their long stalks, but what if you wanted more than one flower? Surprisingly, most Sunflower varieties are multi-headed, which means they will either bloom all over with big blooms or produce one main bloom, followed by multiple, smaller secondary blooms. A few of varieties will also grow multiple layers of petals, creating fluffy-looking flowers such as the Teddy Bear, Double Dazzler and Double Delight varieties.

How to Grow Sunflowers - 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 t-shirt 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 Single (1.8 – 3m), Royal Velvet (1.5m), Golden Prominence (1.5m), Double Delight (50cm), Teddy Bear (50cm), Dwarf Sunsation (50cm) and Eos (25cm).

Shop our expansive range of Sunflower seeds and all-in-one kits here.