This Morning: Daisy Payne shows how to plant sunflower seeds

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Sunflowers are one of the biggest, brightest blooms around and are one of the easiest plants to grow in the comfort of your garden. Best known for their enticing yellow petals and tall green stems, sunflowers provide a striking display from summer through to autumn each year. As the warm season draws closer, you may be wondering if it’s time to plant your own for a summer display. This is the key date to begin for the best blooms.

When to plant sunflowers

Growing your own vibrant sunflowers is easy to do, and the time to get them going is right now.

These tall blooms can be sown from seeds as early as March, though April is generally the prime time to get them dug into small pots of soil.

For a continual display through to the late autumn months, you should continue to sow your seeds through to mid-May in order to stagger the flowering period.

Most varieties will take anywhere between 11 to 18 months to reach maturity after sowing, so plan your planting time according to your desired blooming period.

How to grow your own sunflowers

Choosing the right height of sunflower is essential while choosing your seeds, so read the packet carefully to establish the growing potential before planting.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) recommends growing the following varieties:

  • American giant – can reach up to 4m tall
  • Teddy bear – mid-size sunflower which can reach up to 60-90cm tall
  • Big smile – smaller variety which reaches just 30cm tall

Once you’ve chosen your seeds, it’s time to begin settling them into the soil to kick start their growth.

Sow seeds in pots

Gardeners’ World recommends sowing your sunflowers in individual containers around 10cm tall in order to establish a strong seedling.

Once the risk of frost has passed, it is generally safe to transplant your young sunflowers into their ground position where they will grow tall and cheerful.

Late May or early June is the recommended time to make the move from pots to beds or borders, so get sowing now in order to raise successful seedlings ahead of the summer.

It is critical that you keep your pots well watered after germination, so keep a close eye on the moisture of the soil in their first month after sowing.

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Plant directly into the ground

The RHS suggests that most sunflower varieties can in fact be planted directly into the soil if the weather is mild.

Choose a bright sunny spot with well-drained soil to bury your seeds, and be sure to weed the area thoroughly beforehand.

Rake the soil to a fine crumbly texture and make some holes around 12mm deep, with a 10cm gap between seeds.
Next, place the seeds into the drill holes and cover them with soil after a gentle watering.

Use a plastic bottle to act as an anti-slug and snail covering while the young seedlings grow.

As your sunflower begins to grow taller, it is crucial to use a cane and string to tie the stem loosely for a little extra support.

Watch your sunflowers grow and grow and grow until August when they will flower.

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