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Growing Sunflowers (Helianthus) 🌻

Sunflowers actually belong to the Asteraceae which is the same family as the little daisies growing in your lawn. 

We use them for cooking oil, livestock feed and sometimes dyes.  It is not grown that commonly commercially here in Ireland as we tend to prefer Rapeseed due to its more favourable output. That said there are a few farms around the country that grow it as an attraction where you can pay in to wander around and be in awe of their fabulousness!! (definitely on my summer 'to do' list!) 


There is no better way to say that summer is here than spotting a happy cluster of healthy sunflowers peeking up over a garden wall. Last year I spotted quite a few and they can bring a smile even to the dullest of days. To give this year's Sunflowers an award winning chance the best time to plant them is right now. 


Planting sunflowers could not be easier.

Firstly you need a seed tray, old egg boxes, yoghurt pots, tubes from toilet rolls or purpose made Grow It Seed and Cutting Tray 40 pot is perfect.

Then get yourself some peat free potting compost such as Gro-Sure Seed & Cutting Compost and fill your pots.

Once this is done you can place your seeds a couple of centimetres beneath the soil, water gently and place them in a warm bright spot in the house. To encourage germination you can cover the pots with some clear plastic until they have emerged and then remove. This should only take a week or so. 

Once they have sprouted keep them damp but not overly wet. 


Sunflowers that are grown inside can get quite leggy and so it's best to give them support as soon as they need it. This can be done by chopping up bamboo into pencil lengths or even by using pencils themselves! Soon they should soon be strong enough to support themselves. Once this happens (after about a month or so) they can start to be hardened off.


Hardening off- 

When plants are grown inside they tend to grow quite weakly and are prone to becoming leggy (getting tall and shooting off without a strong base). This is because the conditions inside are nearly too nice for them so they get ahead of themselves. So as not to shock them we need to change the conditions slowly- 'Hardening off'. 

To do this take your young sunflower seedlings and place them outside in the daytime but take them in at night. Do this for a couple of weeks to a month and if your plants are still growing strongly and the weather has started to get milder you can choose a permanent spot for them outside. 


Where to put them?

Sunflowers need a sunny spot with a lot of shelter and support. Beside a garden fence or a sun trap gable wall are ideal areas. They will also need a good strong bamboo or pole to help support them, Grow It Bamboo Canes are perfect for this. If you are lacking in ground soil Sunflowers also do very well in large pots, something like a Lyra Leaf Planter in the large size would be ideal. 


 Tip- When fixing your Sunflower to its support be sure to not tie it on tightly, the trunk of the plant will widen and you don't want to strangle it. Check your ties regularly to make sure that they are loose enough.  


So get planting now and you will be blown away with beautiful blooms by mid July and the birds will be very grateful for a summer treat!