A sunny position is favoured – the annual flowers will always grow towards the sun. Annuals are happy to grow in pots of multi-purpose compost, whereas perennials prefer a border setting, planted in the ground. Avoid very small pots as plants will suffer if they are left to dry out.
If planting annual types in garden soil they prefer a neutral or alkaline soil and one that is humus-rich and well-drained.
Annual sunflowers can be sown directly into their planting position as they're hardy annuals. Sow in May in a weed-free soil and water well. If you miss the sowing time in April or May you will be able to buy potted plants in June.
Perennials plants can be quite enthusiastic growers, so ensure you give them plenty of space at the back or middle of a border. Feed with a general purpose fertiliser in spring.
Grow hardy annual types from seed by sowing directly into the garden in April or May.
If you would rather sow them into pots then plant one seed per 7.5cm pot. Push the seed 1.5cm into the multi-purpose compost and water in. Cover pots with a clear plastic bag and place them in a cool but bright place. Plant out young plants after the last frost. If you have any seed left over don’t be tempted to eat them – seed in packets may have been treated. Buy ones to nibble from the health food shop instead!
Perennial types are easily divided in autumn or spring. Simply dig out a section of a mature clump and pot on.
Annual sunflowers need plenty of water. They’re helped with a feed of tomato feed just before flowering. Don’t allow plants to dry out as very tall varieties will have a job to recover.
Very tall varieties may need the support of a garden cane – especially when growing in an exposed position.
After flowering leave the faded flower head intact so the birds can feast on the seeds. Once they have eaten their fill pull out the entire plant and put it on the compost heap.
Perennial types need very little care. Simply cut plants right down to ground level in autumn.