Plant Now: Sunflowers

Oh to be as talented as the lovely Susan over at Florali. And oh to be organised enough to have planted my sunflower seeds already. Not to worry. Now’s a good time to get them in the ground. The weather has warmed up enough to sow the seeds directly, so choose a sunny spot and plant in moist, compost-enriched soil about 5cm deep and 30cm apart. Sunflowers tolerate a wide range of soil types, from sandy to clay, but make sure it’s free-draining.

If you want smaller flowers for the vase or bouquets, space your plants closer together, as close as 10cm. A sunflower that might produce heads 20cm-25cm in diameter when spaced 30cm apart, will produce smaller heads of around 10cm-15cm when spaced only 10cm apart.

Although sunflowers are drought tolerant, they do best when not stressed by lack of water. Water regularly to encourage tall stems and large flowers – but don’t overwater. Too much water may promote root rot. A deep watering encourages roots to dig deep, which is especially helpful in the case of skyrocketing sunflowers.

Sunflowers can take anywhere between 50 and 100 days from sowing to flowering, depending on the variety (the dwarf varieties are the quickest to mature), so you can sow these cheerful plants right throughout summer. Sow a batch every 2-3 weeks and you’ll have a continuous supply of blooms.

Photos: The top photo features purple echinacea and yellow rudbeckia alongside sunflowers; the bottom photo features blue eryngium.

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