Gardening with Children

School Zone

Grow a Giant or a Dwarf (Sunflower) in your garden

Date Posted: 01 May 2017

T and our Sunflowers

Sunflowers are one of the easiest flowers for children to grow and look stunning in any garden. If you want to grow some in your garden, now is the time to sow your seeds so that they will have time to produce their bright sunny flowers in the Summer and seeds in the Autumn.

Sunflowers are not always tall and yellow they come in different heights and colours making them perfect for any space. Sunflowers can grow up to 4.2m if you choose a giant variety but if space is limited dwarf varieties are available, some varieties can produce several flower heads on one stem as well as the more common single headed variety. Flowers heads can vary in size too, some can even grow up to 60cm across, most have their familiar deep brown centre but their petals can be varying shades of orange, red and yellow with some being bi-coloured (orange and red).

You will need
Sowing your seeds
Fill your small pots with compost to about 1cm from the top, to allow for watering. Make a small hole with your finger and drop a sunflower seed into the hole. Cover over with a little compost, label and water. Place your pots on a sunny, warm windowsill or in a propagator and water if the compost feels dry. Your sunflowers should appear in one to two weeks.
Growing On
When your plants are about 10cm tall you will need to ‘harden them off’ this means that you are getting them used to being planted outdoors. For about a week, during the day, stand your pots outside somewhere sheltered bringing them in at night. After all risk of frost has passed plant out your sunflowers in their final flowering positions, ideally somewhere sunny and sheltered with plenty of room, they can be planted in the ground or into large pots. You may need to protect the young plants with slug deterrant as their stems and leaves are a favourite with slugs and snails too.
As the plants grow support them by tying or clipping their stems to canes or trellis as the flowers heads can become quite heavy making them vulnerable in strong winds. Keep well watered during dry weather.
Sunflower Seeds are a favourite with many species of garden birds, leave the sunflower heads on the plants in the Autumn/Winter and see which birds come to feed on them. Alternatively pick the heads when they have turned brown leaving about 30cm of stem and leave to dry out somewhere warm and airy before removing the seeds which can be stored to feed the birds during the winter months or which can be saved to grow more Sunflowers next year. 
Why not have a competition to see who can grow the tallest Sunflower at School, at Home or amongst your friends. Sunflowers are fast growers, you could make a Sunflower Growing Chart and measure your Sunflowers each week to see how quickly they grow, you could even give them names.


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