Ultimate Guide to Growing Sunflowers

guide-to-growing-sunflowersThere are few flowers more striking than the sunflower.

Big and bold, they evoke the blaze of a midsummer’s day like nothing else.

They are relatively easy to grow and the result is a stunning garden feature that attracts butterflies and birds.

Here is the ultimate guide to the giant beauties to help budding gardeners grow their own.


  • Sunflowers prefer to grow in direct sunlight, and need loose, well-draining soil of good quality. A spot that is sheltered from strong winds is also ideal
  • If you’re planting from seed, it’s best to get going after the danger of spring frost has passed
  • When temperatures are thoroughly warmer, around mid-April to May, plant the seeds no more than an inch deep directly into the soil and roughly six inches apart
  • Stagger plantings over a few weeks so you can enjoy continuous flowering during summer
  • Place some fertilizer around planting time to encourage strong root growth and prevent blowing over in the early stages
  • You may need to put netting over the area until seedlings appear to stop birds pecking at your seeds

While they’re growing

  • When the little plants are established, water infrequently but generously – once a week with several gallons of water
  • Fertilize sparingly and don’t get the fertiliser near the stem
  • You may need to use bamboo sticks to support taller varieties as they grow to prevent bending or breaking


  • If you decide you want to take the impressive flower heads indoors to enjoy, cut them early in the morning to avoid wilting
  • Cuttings should last a week in a vase that is replaced with fresh water every day

 Sunflower seeds

  • The yellow-brown center of sunflower heads will ripen into masses of black seeds
  • These can be used to make cooking oil, margarine, animal feeds, and even some cosmetics
  • Larger, striped seeds are harvested for snacks or used in bread and health foods
  • They are a popular choice for birdseed too so you can always recycle for that purpose

Popular varieties

  • The ‘Mammoth’ is the traditional giant sunflower that towers up to 15 feet tall
  • ‘Autumn Beauty’ has multiple 6-inch flowers in shades of yellow, bronze, and mahogany on stems that branch out and reach up to 7 feet tall
  • The adorable ‘Teddy Bear’ variety grows only 2 to 3 feet tall, making it perfect for smaller gardens or containers. The heads are beautifully full and frilly

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Lily Calyx is our in-house flower whisperer, an expert on all things botanical and an enthusiastic orchids collector. She loves discussing the insights of the secret world of flowers, shares her gardening tips and hacks and moons over the latest additions to Serenata Flowers flower range. Ask Lily anything about flowers and we can guarantee she will have the answer.

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