Thinking of growing sunflowers with your child? They are a fun, bright flower to grow and you can even harvest their edible seeds as well. Here are Top Tips For How To Grow Sunflowers Successfully:
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Growing sunflowers is a really fun gardening project to do with kids. They will love seeing the sunflowers growing taller and taller, they might even be taller than your child!
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How To Grow Sunflowers Successfully
We are all familiar with the yellow variety but there are lots of varieties of sunflowers to choose from, including red ones ‘Claret’ hybrids, which are unusual and a little bit different.
Get A Head Start
Get a head start and plant your sunflower seeds in spring time. Yesterday my friend called over with her little girl, so we decorated some coffee cups and planted giant sunflower seeds in them.
Each 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.
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.
I’m all for biodegradable combined with making life easy, so you can also make little paper pots made from waste paper or newspaper.
Use a baked beans tin as a template and roll up the paper pot, using a little tape on the bottom.
Plant one seed per pot. Then when your baby sunflower plants are about 20-30cm high, plant them out, pot and all, the paper will just biodegrade.
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Pick a Good Spot
As you would expect from their name, sunflowers like a lot of sun so the place you plant them needs to have as much sun as possible for them to soak up.
They like well-drained soil, add a bit of compost to your soil before you plant and make sure there’s plenty of depth as the roots go deep.
Allow space between your sunflowers plants so they have room to grow, they need space for their roots to spread out horizontally as well.
Most sunflowers get so tall they will require staking, a tall bamboo cane will do nicely. I plant mine along a fence and tie them back to a wire, which is fixed along the fence.
You can grow sunflowers in containers but it’s best to stick to dwarf varieties in that case.
Watch Out For Slugs, They Do Like Sunflowers!
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 can attract slugs. Or alternatively you could try organic slug pellets, which are safe for use around children and pets.
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Harvesting The Sunflower Seeds
When you are ready to harvest the seeds, let the flower dry on or off the stem until the back of the flower head turns brown, the leaves turn yellow. The seeds should look plump.
Using shears or scissors, cut the head off the plant 6 inches below the flower head. Place in a container or tub so you can catch any loose seeds.
To remove the seeds, you can use a fork or else rub your hand over the seeded area and pull them off.
Rinse the seeds and then lie them out to dry for a few hours or overnight. If you’re saving the seeds to replant, you can store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant.
Over to you now. Are you a happy sunflower grower? Any other tips for how to grow sunflowers successfully? Share them in the comments below.