Sunflowers: plant now for sum­mer cheer!

Sunflowers bring sum­mer cheer, and there are loads to choose from, says EL­IZ­A­BETH SWANE

Gardening Australia - - CONTENTS -

Sunflowers are fun to grow, bring­ing hap­pi­ness with their big bold flow­ers and joy­ful colours. Now is a great time to plant sunflowers from seed. Sown di­rectly into sunny gar­den beds, they grow quickly and flower in just 8–10 weeks, which is per­fect for cheery sum­mer colour.

The pop­u­lar­ity of sunflowers is on the up, so it’s not sur­pris­ing to learn that seed sales have risen 50 per cent in the past four years. The most pop­u­lar are tra­di­tional tall, large, sin­gle-head sunflowers, fol­lowed by dwarf va­ri­eties, which are an in­di­ca­tion of the shift to­wards smaller gar­dens and grow­ing plants in con­tain­ers. Medium-sized, un­usual coloured and multi-headed sunflowers are also a grow­ing trend, adding in­ter­est, diver­sity and a point of dif­fer­ence to sum­mer gar­dens.

Sunflowers make great cut flow­ers, and chil­dren love them. Their large seeds are easy to sow, plants are ro­bust and quick to grow, and beau­ti­ful flow­ers are long last­ing. As chil­dren in­creas­ingly get in­volved in gar­den­ing at school, they are of­ten in­spired to plant flow­ers among ve­gies or shrubs in their home gar­den, or to fill pots with colour. Sunflowers are ideal for this.

In ad­di­tion to pro­duc­ing spec­tac­u­lar flow­ers in sunny colours, sunflowers also play an im­por­tant role as pol­li­na­tor-friendly plants, at­tract­ing a wide range of ben­e­fi­cial in­sects, but­ter­flies and bees to the gar­den. If they are left to dry on the plant, seed heads are a mag­net for birds, so you will need to cover them with a mesh bag if you want to save some to eat or to sow next sea­son.

grow­ing sunflowers

Sow sun­flower seeds 2cm deep di­rectly into gar­den beds or in pots in full sun. En­rich gar­den soil by adding com­post or a few hand­fuls of pel­letised ma­nure, then rake the soil to a fine crum­ble. Use 30cm di­am­e­ter pots to grow dwarf types or 45cm pots for tall va­ri­eties, filled with good qual­ity pot­ting mix.

Water the young seedlings reg­u­larly, then grad­u­ally re­duce this to less fre­quent, deeper wa­ter­ing as plants ma­ture. Grow in clumps or against a fence to pro­tect from the wind.

Sow seeds in 2–3 batches, 2–3 weeks apart, to pro­long your dis­play.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.