‘Ello Farm Friends!
Well, hopefully you lovely peeps have HERD all about our amooozin sunflower competition by now. Simply collect your seeds on entry to Dairyland and pop em in a pot when you get home. Take a snap of your sunflower once its grown and upload it to our Facebook page, the best wins a family day pass to the park!
Let em grow!
Now, we DairyLand crew got some friends in high places ya know, so me and Dazy have managed to get a few tips from our mate Matt James (Horticulturalist off the TV). He’s kindly put together some tips for growin yer sunflowers! Check out Matt’s Tips below!
Good luck and see ya soon,
Grab yer seeds!
Growing sunflowers – Top Ten Tips
- There are lots of different varieties available in colours from rusty red to golden yellow. Some like ‘Teddy Bear’ grow to only 45cm (18in) others like ‘Mongolian Giant’ and ‘Russian Giant’ reach a height in excess of 3m (10ft).
- Perennial sunflowers are available too. Varieties like ‘Lemon Queen’ have smaller flowers but won’t need to be grown from scratch every year. However, allow plenty of space for them to spread.
- A sunny spot which receives at least six hours of sun a day is essential for both annual and perennial varieties.
- For annual sunflowers sow seed direct in early summer 12mm (½in) deep, 30cm (12in) apart. A free-draining weed free soil is crucial. A spot sheltered from strong winds is important too.
- Alternatively in March sow seed 2cm (⅔in) deep in 7cm (3in) pots in the greenhouse. When they’re large enough to handle acclimatise the young seedlings gradually. Leave them outside during the day, inside overnight for a week or so, before planting out in their final position once all danger of frost has passed.
- Sunflowers suffer from few pests and diseases, although slugs and snails can be a problem for young seedlings. Control them with copper ‘slug rings’ or Growing Success Organic Slug Pellets.
- Taller varieties will need to be tied every 30cm (12in) to a thick bamboo cane for support.
- Sunflowers hate drought so regular watering is essential. They’re greedy too. A general fertiliser like blood, fish and bone will do for most. For tall prize-winning plants use a nitrogen based fertiliser, switching to tomato fertiliser when the flower buds form.
- Smaller varieties are ideal for pots. Choose a container at least 30cm (12in) in diameter and add a 3cm (1in) layer of broken terracotta ‘crocks’ or gravel in the bottom for drainage. Use any good peat-free multipurpose compost.
- Annual sunflowers will flower from midsummer well into autumn. Once they’ve finished leave the spent flower heads for the birds to feast on over winter. Alternatively harvest the seed for yourself!
Matt James is a garden designer, broadcaster, writer and Course Manager for the HND Garden & Landscape Design course at Duchy College, Rosewarne. His fourth book entitled The Urban Gardener for the Royal Horticultural Society is out in Spring 2014.