Saturday, March 03, 2012


Nothing characterises summer as much as sunflowers with their bright, enormous yellow flower heads. As a child it is easy to be captivated by these large flowers on tall stalks whose heads followed the sun across the sky. They always seem to have smiling faces.

Sunflowers are native to South and Central America and are always a great way to introduce children to the fun of gardening. Competitions to see who can grow the tallest sunflower are traditional in some families and inspire friendly rivalry. The tallest sunflower that Melissa grew when she was a child was 4.1 metres. The world record for the tallest sunflower stands at 7.76 metres tall.

Sunflowers are annuals that can be sown where they are to flower, ensuring that they are planted in a fertile, well-drained, sunny position in the garden. The seeds can be sown in spring or early summer when the soil is beginning to warm up, and it is important to sow them into beds that are well prepared with organic matter and that are kept weed free. Smooth over the top of the soil lightly to create a good surface for sowing the seeds. As a general rule seeds can be sown to double the depth of the seed and cover with soil.

It is important to water the seeds regularly and to keep the bed weed free. Water with a liquid fertiliser every 2 to 3 weeks to boost the height of the sunflowers.

Slugs, snails and birds are very fond of the young seedlings, so some protective measures may need to be taken during the early growing weeks.

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