Sunflowers are easy to grow and famously, get very tall - the world record currently stands at just over 30 feet! The seeds provide food for birds, and the flowers are a popular source of nectar for bees.
The variety we currently provide is Giant Yellow Single - a lovely, traditional type of sunflower suited to children's growing competitions.
How to grow sunflowers
Sow your sunflower seeds indoors April-May. Fill small flowerpots with compost, and poke one seed into the middle of each pot. Cover each seed with about 1.5cm of compost. Put on a sunny windowsill and keep the soil moist.
Coir (the fibre extracted from the outer husk of coconuts) is peat-free, and can be used as an alternative to traditional compost to get the seeds started. Dehydrated coir discs are what we include in our complete sunflower seed starter kits.
However, coir does not contain the nutrients sunflowers need to grow large. Once each seedling has developed 4-6 leaves, transplant into a larger pot filled with good quality, multi-purpose potting compost.
Plant your growing sunflowers in the garden (or large outdoor pots) in early June, once the danger of frost has passed. Choose a sunny, sheltered spot and water regularly.
As they grow tall, you may need to support the sunflowers with canes.
Interesting facts about sunflowers
Sunflowers are native to the Americas, where they have been cultivated for around 5,000 years.
There are over 70 different varieties, and many aren't yellow! Some are orange, pink or reddish in colour.
A sunflower is not a single flower. The middle is actually made up of many hundreds of individual flowers, filled with pollen and nectar. That’s why bees are attracted to them.
Each tiny flower can grow into a sunflower seed. These seeds are full of nutrients, and birds love to eat them.
The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine in Eastern Europe. It is also the official flower of the US state of Kansas.
Young sunflowers move round so they always face the sun. This trait is called heliotropism. The French word for sunflower is ‘tournesol’, meaning ‘turns with the sun’.
Sunflowers can actually remove certain toxins from contaminated soil. These include lead, arsenic and uranium. Following some of the world's biggest environmental disasters - for example the nuclear accidents at Chernobyl in Ukraine, and Fukushima in Japan - sunflowers were planted to help 'clean up' the earth.
The tallest sunflower ever recorded was 9.17m - that's 30 ft 1 in! It was grown in Germany in 2014. You can see photos of the winning sunflower on its Guinness World Records page.
This Friends of the Earth guide is packed full of even more sunflower facts!
How to make a sunflower bird feeder
Once a sunflower has wilted and turned brown, cut off the head and leave it on your bird table, or hang it from a tree for them to enjoy.
This tutorial, from Creative Cain Cabin, shows you how to make a sunflower bird feeder that faces upwards.
And this one, from GinGin & Roo, shows how you can hang your sunflower from your bird table with just a single piece of string.
Get your own sunflower to colour in!
Designer Marceline Smith, of Asking for Trouble, has created a cute colouring page featuring a happy sunflower.
The PDF - which you can find right here - is pay what you can.
Marceline is kindly donating 50% of all proceeds from this printable to Seeds of Hope Scotland.
These funds will be used to run seed giveaways to good causes in Scotland.
You can find more of Marceline's colouring pages and activity sheets - including pay what you can options - in her very cute online shop.
Buy sunflower seeds
If you'd like to buy multiple packets of sunflower seeds, for example for your school or community group, we offer bulk discounts. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can give you a custom quotation for your project.