Helianthus annuus, better known as the common sunflower, is a truly spectacular plant that cannot fail to lift your mood and bring a smile to your face. Simply growing them in you garden/allotment makes the area a happier place for you, your neighbours and bees! Yes, we are not the only ones to love these bright sunny flowers, bees also go mad for them. So why not grow some this year? The big sunflower project has had loads of sunflower seeds donated and are giving them away free, in exchange for photos of your happy sunflowers . Check out #TheBigSunflowerProject for more details about the sunflowers, the scheme and how to get your seeds to help bees this year.
Planting Helianthus annuus
Helianthus annuus can be planted in pots or directly in the soil, once the threat of frost has gone (February/March is a good time to plant our seeds outdoors). If you are planting your delightful H.annuus outside directly in the soil then they prefer neutral to alkaline soils which are moist but well drained and can range from clay, loam, sand to chalk in full sun. Slugs and other such garden critters love young sunflowers, so they will pose a threat to your young sunflower plants. You can help to protect them by cutting plastic bottles up and placing them around the young plants.
Planting in pots is simple and you can get creative by up-cycling items such as toilet rolls, yogurt pots and similar items. Start by filling your chosen pot with compost, leaving a 1 cm gap between the rim and the top of your compost, then create a well in the compost for your seed with a stick (you can use a pencil, chopstick or twig from the garden), place your seed in and bury to around 1 cm deep. Water and your Helianthus should germinate within 10 days.