Sunflowers are some of the easiest flowers you can grow. They are a staple at Frances Cecil and I plant them every 2 weeks to have a continuous succession all through summer to the frost. Customers love them and I typically sell them in straight bunches. They evoke pure happiness and are definitely the poster child of summer.
Symbolism: longevity and loyalty
DTM: 60 days
Spacing: 20cm x 20cm
Rows per bed: 3 rows (our beds are 75cm x 10m)
Plants per bed: 150
Favourite cultivars: lemon rush and radiance
Image 1: Lemon Rush
Image 2: Radiance
How to grow:
To transplant, start 5cm soil blocks in greenhouse 3-4 weeks before last frost date. Sunflowers have a high germination rate and are quick to grow, so don’t start them too early. Plant out after all chance of frost have passed. Water regularly for the first 2 weeks and then sparingly or when needed especially during heat waves. Sunflowers I plant in spring take 90 days to flower, 50 days during the summer and 90 again if planted in late summer.
To direct seed dig a burrow around 5-10cm deep and sprinkle seed along the rows. Cover with bird netting and keep the bed moist until they germinate. Depending on germination rates you may need to thin out the seedlings.
Note: The closer together the seedlings, the thinner and smaller the stem. If you want big, focal flowers space them 20cm apart.
How to harvest: Harvest stems in the early morning or late afternoon. Cut stems when the petals are still a little scrunched and facing inward. This prevents damage to the petals and lessens the risk of bugs. The petals will open in the vase.
Vase life: 5-7 days