Monty Don reveals he came into gardening 'through soil'
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Sunflowers come in a wide range of sizes, from dwarf to giant, and as well as the classic golden-yellow flowers, you can also grow them with red, orange or even white blooms. Sunflowers, called Helianthus annuus in the botanical world, are perfect for wildlife-friendly gardens. Making them even more special, sunflowers get their name because they are heliotropic – meaning they follow the sun, tracking its position so that the developing flowerbeds are always facing the sun. One thing’s for sure, growing sunflowers will add a special summery touch to any garden or greenhouse.
When is the best time to grow sunflowers?
Choosing when to plant sunflower seeds is essential to ensuring they grow good and strong.
Ideally, plant sunflowers in late spring once the ground is nice and warm.
Most sunflowers germinate when the soil has reached 21C to 29C.
The best time to plant sunflowers is just before the soil reaches this temperature.
Look for a ground temperature of between 10C to 20C.
For most parts of the world, this will be approximately three weeks after the last frost.
Planting sunflowers indoors gives you a head start on the growing season as well.
Simply tuck the seeds into peat pots around the time of your last spring frost.
Make sure to choose a sunny spot, as it goes without saying that sunflowers love a bit of sun.
Look for a spot with plenty of natural light for these fast-growing flowers, and think about what you’ll plant around or near your sunflowers.
Most sunflowers grow quite tall and may cast shade on other plants growing in your garden or greenhouse.
The short growing season of between 70 to 100 days allows for planting throughout most gardening zones.
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Well drained soil is absolutely essential for growing sunflowers, and if your soil is heavy, mix up to four inches of compost.
Add nutrients to soil with a complete fertiliser before planting, and mix your compost and fertiliser into the top six inches of your garden bed.
One important thing to note is that different sunflowers require different planting depths and spacing.
But in general, sunflower plant seeds at least half-an-inch deep and should be spaced six inches apart.
If planting in rows, you’ll want two to three feet between each row, and plants should be thinned out in a few weeks to the proper spacing.
If the soil temperatures are just right, sunflowers seedlings will sprout up in 10 to 14 days time.
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