Create your own sunshine with 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.
Sunflowers grow best in direct sunlight in a spot that is sheltered from strong winds – along a fence or near a building is ideal. The tall varieties have long tap roots that need to stretch out, so plant them in well-dug, well-draining soil. Dwarf varieties grow happily in pots too. 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.
It’s best to sow sunflower seeds directly into the soil now that danger of frost has passed. 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.
While the plant is small, water regularly around the roots. Once it’s established, water more deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root development. Tall species will require support, so tie the plant to a stake as it grows. Sunflowers make great cut flowers, or if left to produce seeds they will attract birds to your garden.