Sunflowers are among the easiest and most rewarding annuals to grow. They're also some of the tallest, with many varieties producing huge, saucer-shaped yellow flowers that tower over other plants in the border.
Helianthus annuus 'Solar Eclipse' is an unusual looking sunflower. Each flower has a central brown disc flanked by a ring of pure yellow petals with a large splash of red, giving the appearance of a ring of fire. It's ideal for adding height to the border, and makes a good cut flower.
Sow seed in individual 10cm pots of moist seed compost in April to May, cover with cling film and place on a sunny windowsill or greenhouse bench. Remove the cling film once the seeds have germinated, and water plants regularly, allowing the water to drain. Pot on into larger pots with multipurpose compost, before eventually planting outside once all risk of frost has passed.
For best results enrich the soil with plenty of well-rotted manure or garden compost before planting out Helianthus annuus 'Solar Eclipse', and water plants regularly. You may need to stake plants in exposed gardens.
Cultivar: Solar Eclipse
Plant type: Hardy annual
Flower colour: Yellow
Foliage colour: Dark green
Feature: Flowers, Attractive to wildlife
Sun exposure: Full sun
Soil: Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy
Skill level: Beginner
Time to plant seeds: March to May
Flowering period: July to September
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