Sunflowers in vase

Sunflower SunBelievable™ ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ is an exclusive Chelsea finalist available only at T&M
Image: Sunflower SunBelievable™ ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ from T&M

A welcome sign of summer, sunflowers are bold, bright and beautiful. They’re also easy to grow from seed! We’ve scoured the internet to find the very best articles, videos and Insta posts to help you grow these popular blooms. Whether you want to enter a giant in a local competition or fill your borders with dwarf, multi-stemmed stunners, these expert tips will give you an excellent head start. 

Browse our full range of sunflower seeds for even more inspiration.

Grow sunflowers to improve your soil

Sunflower seedlings in fabric pots

Sunflowers are easy to grow from seed
Image: Simplify Gardening

Sunflowers are more than just a pretty bloom. Did you know that they can also improve the health of your soil? “Sunflowers remedy damaged soil by absorbing heavy metals, zinc, and salts,” explains Tony O’Neill at Simplify Gardening. Plant them in swathes alongside your driveway where they’ll deliver cheerful kerb appeal whilst working their soil-cleaning magic at the same time. An easy two for one!

Give sunflowers plenty of space to grow

Closeup of sunflower 'Russian Giant'

Sunflower ‘Russian Giant’ produces very tall stems topped with large yellow flowers
Image: @littlekentgardener

Give your giant sunflower varieties plenty of room to grow. Especially the colossal ‘Russian Giant’. It can produce seed heads up to 20 inches across, says Instagrammer Toyah at @littlekentgardener. If you’re looking to wow passing members of the public, or impress the kids, it’s a fantastic variety to grow – just choose the right spot. Take a peek at her photos to see how big her giant grew!

Choose a multi-stemmed variety for more sunflowers

White sunflower variety against green foliage background

Sunflower ‘Valentine’ has delicate pale yellow flowers
Image: MandyCanUDigIt

Sunflowers are not all about size,” says blogger Mandy at MandyCanUDigIt. She recommends multi-headed dwarf varieties like ‘Valentine’ that fit into a mixed garden bed, are compact enough to remain stable in wind, and even flower over a much longer period than their single-stemmed cousins. Read Mandy’s info-packed article for more information on the best multi-stemmed varieties to try.

Get kids into gardening with sunflowers

Person holding sunflower head

Sunflower ‘Tiger Eye’ makes a unique cut flower
Image: Sunflower ‘Tiger Eye’ from T&M

Use sunflowers to get children interested in gardening, says Tracey at Sow Grow Harvest. Sowing seeds is a great way to help kids engage with nature and boost self-esteem. “All you need to get started is a bit of soil…or compost, a plastic tub or yoghurt pot and some sunflower seeds,” she enthuses. Sounds like a fun activity for Easter weekend!

Sow your sunflower seeds directly in the garden

Red sunflower variety

For something a little different, grow the burgundy coloured sunflower ‘Claret’ F1 hybrid
Image: Sunflower ‘Claret’ F1 Hybrid from T&M

Sunflower seeds can be sown straight in the ground where you want them to grow, but wait until late May or early June when there’s no chance of frost,” advise our own garden experts here at Thompson & Morgan. Ideal for gardeners with limited greenhouse space, the T&M team reminds you to dig the soil over first and remove any weeds before you sow. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for pesky slugs and snails! Read the full article for tips on growing sunflowers in the ground or containers.

Choose dwarf sunflowers if your garden is windy

Sunflower seedlings in root cells

Sunflower seeds should germinate in around two weeks in a warm place
Image: Roger Crookes

Think about where you’re going to plant your sunflowers before you sow, advises gardening YouTuber Roger Crookes. You can sow taller varieties for sheltered spots but remember to sow a few sturdy dwarf types for any exposed windy areas in the garden. Roger sows a range of varieties to create the most eye-catching display he can! Watch his helpful video to see exactly how he raises sunflower seeds in the warm school greenhouse where he works.

Support single-stemmed sunflowers

Planting sunflower in ground against wire training

Gently thread your sunflower through two support wires to keep it upright
Image: Grow With Kit

As soon as the weather warms in spring, it’s time to plant out your young sunflowers. “If you get a bit of wind and a lot of rain they’ll just fall over, so I’m going to support them,” says YouTuber Kit. He makes a simple but strong support for sunflowers using only fence posts and wire – see how he does it over at his popular gardening channel Grow With Kit.

Pinch out sunflowers for more flower heads per stem

Pinching out sunflowers

Pinch out the growing tip to encourage a bushier sunflower plant
Image: @harrogategardening

Instagrammer Joanne pinches out her sunflowers to get multiple flower heads. “Not the usual thing people do, but I love sunflowers for their flowers, and not really for their height,” she says. She removes the growing tip just before a bud forms. Want to see the end result? Check out Joanne’s bushy sunflower plants over at @harrogategardening.

Feed giant sunflowers to help them grow taller

Giant sunflower head with seeds

Giant sunflower varieties have a huge seed head by autumn
Image: The Grey Gardener

Adam’s secret weapon for growing colossal sunflowers is manure. “They’re heavy feeders,” he explains in his helpful video. He adds manure to the planting hole in spring, mulches straight after the young plants are in the ground, and adds a sprinkle of chicken manure pellets as a finishing touch. The regime seems to work, as his plants really do reach giant proportions! Pick up more insider info over at his YouTube channel, The Grey Gardener.

Water your sunflower plants regularly

Dwarf sunflowers in containers

Dwarf sunflowers make ideal flowering plants for a mixed container display
Image: Growing Family

If you’re not sure how often to water sunflowers, the best approach is to check the compost in your sunflower pots regularly,” says blogger Catherine at Growing Family. If the surface feels dry, give them a soak. Catherine’s gorgeous sunflowers thrive in pots on the patio – see how she goes from seeds to a dazzling summer display in this friendly article.

Harvest your sunflower seeds for a nutritious snack

Closeup of sunflower in field

Sunflowers track the sun through the sky
Image: The Pink Shed

Did you know that you can eat the seeds from your sunflowers? “Try roasting them or even frying them with a little olive oil. They can be used in bread or sprinkled onto porridge or salads for a yummy crunch,” says allotmenteer Emma at The Pink Shed. They’re really good for our health too – learn about all the incredible benefits of eating sunflower seeds in her fascinating article.

Collect sunflower seeds for free flowers next year

Hand showing sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds ripen in autumn after the flower starts to dry out
Image: Gardening at 58 North

Want a fun new project? Try collecting sunflower seeds from last year’s blooms to sow in trays, says YouTuber Simon at Gardening at 58 North. When they germinate, only keep the healthiest seedlings to grow on. Expect plenty of summer colour from your new plants but no ‘true’ varieties, warns Simon. What you’ll get is a colourful lucky dip.

Visit our dedicated page of sunflower-growing resources to find even more information and advice on these glorious summer blooms. For an easy way to keep up with our best and brightest products, follow us on Instagram or Twitter.

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