Plant A Sunflower

Sunflowers are the most fun flowers to plant because they grow so fast and so tall. They also look gorgeous. What’s more, you don’t need a garden because you can grow them in pots. They may not grow quite as rampantly but they still look awesome – I’ve done it! So grab yourselves some sunflower seeds (you can buy them online if you are in lockdown) and get planting. You might be all organised for gardening with pots and compost. If you’re not, don’t panic. You can plant them in ordinary soil, and you can make a pot out of the inside of a toilet roll. Just sellotape across the bottom to hold the soil in (but leave some gaps so that water can flow out) and then fill the hollow cardboard tube with soil. Sit it in a mug to keep it upright.

Sunflower seeds take 2-3 weeks to germinate, so your pot is going to look like this for a while. Keep it damp, and keep it reasonably warm. If you keep it somewhere too sunny it’ll keep drying out unless you’re really vigilant, and if you keep it somewhere too cold, it’ll be slow to germinate. In a couple of weeks a little green shoot will pop up, and before you know it you’ll have something that is growing like a triffid. Even if you’ve only got space to grow one big sunflower, it’s worth planting 4 or 5 seeds. Then you can choose the biggest strongest looking one to grow on.

When you sunflowers have been ‘up’ for a week or so, check for roots peeping out the bottom of the pot. Peeping roots are a sign that your plant needs a bigger pot. Start thinking about a bigger pot now. What will you put it in? If you think now, you can have something ready. Or you can have a patch of garden waiting for them. If you plant outside, you may need to do something about slugs, so check out Brendan Smith’s post about Planting a Vegetable Garden for advice on slugs. It’s good to stand your pots out in the garden during the day (bring them in at night) for a few days before you plant them out so they get used to outdoor temperatures.

Sunflowers can be planted throughout April and May, but the sooner you get them planted, the sooner you’ll have gorgeous big yellow flowers. Tweet us your pictures of your plants as they grow to @NatureAtHomeIE

Published by Louise Allcock

Professor of Zoology at NUI Galway

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