Sunflower Seeds

After chucking a load of seeds around the borders last Spring this beauty of a sunflower popped up. We nicknamed her Farrah Fawcet and I “papped” her every time I went into the garden. After she had gone to seed we collected loads, as I’ve no idea what type she is and can’t even remember buying the seeds in the first place. This isn’t unusual for me. I usually let the kids run riot and buy them packets of seeds as treats instead of a parade of plastic toys and bags of sweets (so mean I know). This haphazard approach and my general amnesia means we have all sorts of random flowers growing all over the place. Farrah was so spectacular that I reckon now is the time to try to grow some more super stars.

I’ve always thought sunflowers were for kids to grow and see who could get the tallest one, but once Farrah popped up I realised how many different colours there are and shapes and sizes.

Kids love drawing faces on sunflowers

Growing from seed is tough sometimes, you shouldn’t take it personally or give up. Lots of times seeds don’t germinate. To spread our odds this time I’ve sown some in pots on the utility room window sill and some in the border in exactly the same space Farrah appeared last year. This border gets loads of sun and is sheltered by a wall and hedge. I’ve also sown some more in the raised veggie beds, so I’m really going for it. I am going to sow a few more every couple of weeks to do our best to catch the right time and perhaps even get flowers over a longer period.

When planting sunflower seeds bear in mind:

  • You can grow in pots or direct in the ground. Check the size of the plant you are intending to grow, some are MASSIVE. Big plants need bigger pots.
  • Once they get big you may want to stake them with a cane and tie them on with twine otherwise they may flop over. The heads of the bigger plants are surprisingly heavy.
  • Choose a sunny, but sheltered spot as the wind can knock them about a bit.
  • Be generous with the compost and watering, especially if there is a dry snap.
  • Experiment! Plant a few different types and different heights. Go for the school photo look, little ones at the front, tallest at the back.
  • Once the heads go to seed collect some to sow next year and leave some standing for the birds to enjoy.

Sowing Sunflowers

  • Choose your spot: sunny and sheltered
  • Prepare a bed by: removing weeds, add compost if you like, rake over.
  • Make a little drill (hole) with a pointy stick or pencil about an inch deep.
  • Push sunflower seed in pointy side down.
  • Water and wait.

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

  • You can tell when the sunflowers are ready to harvest, because the back of the flower head will go from green to yellow or brown, the petals will have drooped off and the seeds with be accessible and more wobbly.
  • Collect the seeds and store in a cool dry place until it’s time to plant them out the following year.
  • Leave some standing for the birds.