How to Grow Sunflowers Successfully

Thinking of growing sunflowers with your child? Ailish of Sow and Grow gives us tips for how to grow sunflowers successfully:
The garden in August just wouldn’t be the same without tall cheerful sunflowers, turning their heads towards the sun. Last summer was a bad one for sunflowers, as it rained so much and we didn’t have much sun either… So many people told me of their disappointment to see their flowers developing in late September, only to be hit by the cold as soon as they were looking ok.

Get a Head Start this Summer

This year, get a head start and plant your sunflowers in pots now. Yesterday my friend called over with her little girl, so we decorated some coffee cups and planted giant sunflower seeds in them. The cup is nice and deep, giving the seed lots of room to grow and develop into a healthy plant before planting out in a sunny spot in the garden.

Biodegradable Pots

I’m all for biodegradable combined with making life easy, so another great alternative are paper pots made from waste paper or newspaper.

Use a large bean tin as a template and roll up the paper pot, using a little tape on the bottom. Plant one seed per pot and plant them out, pot and all, when the plant is about 20-30cm high.

Most will require staking, a tall bamboo cane will do nicely. I planted mine along a fence and tied them back to a wire, which was fixed along the fence.


Watch out for slugs, they do like them! But by planting out sturdier plants, they have a better chance of survival. If you do suffer from slug attacks, I heard a nifty trick from organic gardener Jean Perry recently.

Try an upturned grapefruit shell, left over night, it will be full of slugs in the morning…then dispose of them how you want…eeek. Also a cabbage leaf is another one, or alternatively you could try organic slug pellets, which are safe for use around children and pets. I bought some at the Irish Seed Savers recently.

Sunflower Varieties

Back to those wonderful sunflowers, there are lots of varieties to choose from, including red ones ‘Claret’ hybrids, which are unusual and a little bit different.

You can also sow directly into the soil, but personally I get better results from those started in pots.

Either way, get them planted soon and you could have them blooming from July onwards!

Thanks to Ailish of Sow and Grow for submitting this article.

Ailish runs gardening classes for children and works with creches, pre-schools and schools. She also runs fun gardening birthday parties.

Have you grown sunflowers successfully? Share your tips in the comments below.

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