Tips on growing sunflowers

By: Kara Flannery

Since you have received your seeds, hopefully they will have germinated by now and the seedlings may be about 3-5 inches high.  If you haven’t planted them yet, don’t worry, you still have time, the seeds can be planted well into June. Just put a single seed in a small pot with a hole in the bottom, (don’t forget the compost!) Yogurt cartons are perfect for this.

Don’t forget to water every day.

The seedlings need to remain indoors and preferably on a sunny window-ledge. It’s too cold outside at the moment (early May).

sunflower seedlings growing
sunflower seedlings growing

If you placed multiple seeds in a tray or pot and the seedling are a few inches high and have four leaves, separate them out, make sure they are placed in individual small pots. You need to gently pull the seedling from its base.

As the plants starts to grow, you will need to put them in a bigger pot each time (probably 3 different size pots by the time they can go outside).  How you know when to move to a bigger pot is to look at the base of the pot and if you see roots sticking out, it’s time to move them on.

Sunflower growing in stages
Sunflower growing in stages

Once the plants become tall, maybe 2ft or so, they may need staking with a bamboo stick, they tend to fall over.

Hopefully by June they can be planted out.  Sunflowers, as the name suggests, love the sun and generally need full sun. Not necessarily all day.  They are happy in a big pot (about 40cm width) or plant them in a flower bed.

They should flower around July and can flower well into Autumn.

I leave the heads on when the flower has died back and the birds and squirrels love the seeds.

A handy quick timeline from BBC Gardeners World.

Fact 1-Did you know there are around 70 types of sunflowers, they can be giant, dwarf and multi-coloured.

Fact 2- Sunflowers originated from North America and were grown as a crop by indigenous tribes over 4,500 years ago.