How to grow sunflowers in the U.K.

Posted by David Lucas on

Sunflowers are a popular and easy-to-grow plant that can brighten up any garden. They are known for their large yellow flowers and can grow up to 3 metres tall. In the UK, sunflowers are typically grown from mid-April to mid-July, with the peak blooming period occurring in late summer. If you’re interested in growing sunflowers in the UK, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Choose the right location: Sunflowers require full sunlight, so it's important to choose a location that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. They also prefer well-drained soil, so avoid planting them in areas where water tends to pool.

  2. Prepare the soil: Sunflowers grow best in nutrient-rich soil, so it's important to prepare the soil before planting. You can add organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to the soil to improve its fertility.

  3. Plant the seeds: Sunflower seeds should be planted at a depth of 2-3 times their width. Space the seeds about 30cm apart, and water them well after planting. If you’re planting more than one row of sunflowers, space the rows at least 45cm apart.

  4. Water regularly: Sunflowers need regular watering, especially during dry spells. It's important to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged, as this can cause the seeds to rot.

  5. Provide support: As sunflowers grow, they become top-heavy and can fall over in windy conditions. To prevent this, you can provide support for the plants by staking them or using a trellis. This is especially important for the taller varieties.

  6. Fertilise: Sunflowers benefit from regular fertilisation throughout the growing season. You can use an all purpose balanced fertiliser, such as 10-10-10, every four to six weeks to keep the plants healthy and promote flower production.

  7. Watch for pests and diseases: Sunflowers can be susceptible to pests and diseases, such as aphids and powdery mildew. Keep an eye out for any signs of damage or disease, and treat them promptly to prevent further damage.

  8. Harvest the seeds: Sunflowers produce edible seeds that are a popular snack. To harvest the seeds, wait until the flowers have fully bloomed and the petals have fallen off. Then, cut the flower head off the plant and hang it upside down in a dry, well-ventilated area. Once the seeds have dried, you can remove them from the flower head and store them in an airtight container.

Growing sunflowers in the UK is a fun and rewarding experience. With the right conditions and care, you can enjoy these beautiful plants in your garden all summer long.