GARDENING WITH DEBBI
ADD a touch of sunshine to your garden by planting sunflowers.
These hardy annuals, native to South and Central America, are easy to grow from seed and can be sown in spring and early summer, after the last frosts.
Sunflowers are known for their bright yellow flowers but also come in other colours from white and cream, pale yellow to bright orange, red and bronze.
They vary in form, with single and double flower blooms and single or multiple flower heads.
Cultivars range in size from dwarfs which grow to less than a metre, to giants that can grow to over 4.5m.
The current world record for the tallest sunflower is 7.76 metres.
Sunflowers grow from seed and don’t like being transplanted, so sow them directly in the ground in the desired position.
They need a fertile well-draining soil in a sunny position.
In fact, the more sun they receive, the better they grow.
Prepare the soil by removing any weeds, digging in compost or organic matter and raking level.
Sow the seed to double the depth of the seed, about 2cm.
Don’t forget to protect the young emerging seedlings from snails and slugs.
Water regularly and keep free of weeds. Mulch the soil and feed with a liquid fertiliser fortnightly.
If growing the taller varieties, stake them while young to stabilise the plant during strong winds and bad weather.
Consider growing: - “Dwarf Sensation” which has bright yellow flowers and grows to around a metre.
- “Bronze Shades” grows up to 2 metres and flowers profusely in shades of red, orange and bronze.
- “Prado Red” grows to 2 metres and has claret red flowers.
- “Lemon Queen” has a light yellow flower with a dark centre and grows to 2 metres.
- “Italian White” has creamy white flowers with a dark eye and grows to 1.5 - 2 metres.
- “Double Dazzler” has semi double yellow flowers and grows to around 2 metres.
And if you want to try for your own world record, “Giant Russian” has very large, single, yellow flowers which can grow up to 50cm across and four metres high.