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17 May 2017
We recently asked a couple of our green-fingered staff (Steve and Rob from our Chesterfield branch) for some advice on how to grow the perfect sunflower. Here's what they had to say...
First of all, decide which type of sunflower will suit your garden. Not all sunflowers are giants, some are quite dainty, reaching no more than a couple of feet tall. Not all sunflowers are yellow, there are varieties which bear a deep red flower.
Having decided to grow for height and display, or something to suit the garden scheme, the initial step is to select the right seeds. Here’s where quality counts. Some folk swear by harvesting their own seeds from last year’s successes, but these can have variable results. For the sake of a few pounds it’s worth investing in fresh seeds from a recognised source.
The next step is to sow the seed. Again, don’t be tempted to scrimp by using last year’s compost, or any old garden soil. Commercial potting compost is formulated with nutrients and feed for seedlings and young plants. Water the compost, and wait for those seedlings to appear!
One of the secrets to growing large, healthy plants is to “pot on” young plants. Move them on into bigger pots as soon as roots can be seen at the bottom of whatever pot they are in. Bigger pot equals more compost, equals more feed, equals more water available. Never let your sunflowers dry out – look out for wilting leaves. Be aware that it’s a long way up a tall stalk to nourish the growing tip of a sunflower!
Protection from extremities of the weather is ideal. If you can keep sunflowers in a sheltered spot, preferably a greenhouse, until placing them in their position of glory, all the better. If this isn’t possible, then ensure that the plants are firmly staked with a tall enough bamboo cane to prevent wind damage.
Sunflowers can, of course, be grown in the garden soil directly where you want them to flower. The potential drawbacks to this approach are weather problems, soil issues, garden pests, and quite often damage from pets!
Whichever way you choose to grow your sunflowers, we hope you get as much pleasure out of them as we do!
Posted by Matthew Cook