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A row of sunflower plants in a long garden bed
Sunflowers are a great way to add colour to your garden, and they're easy to grow and care for. Bunnings Greenlife buyer Katie explains the basics of how to grow sunflowers and shares some tips on how to care for them.

 

Appearance

Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are typically yellow, although you can also grow red, orange and striped ones as well. They range in size from dwarfs that grow less than a metre high, to giants that can grow over 3.5m tall and produce flowers up to 50cm wide. 

Why do sunflowers face the sun?

One thing that gardeners love is that young sunflowers turn their face towards the sun. This is so parts of the flower head receive the levels of sunlight they need.

How to grow sunflowers

Best soil for growing

Sunflowers are annuals that grow well in fertile, well-drained soil. Their ideal soil conditions lie between a pH level of 6.0 and 7.5, however, they're pretty hardy so will grow in most soils with some care. Most importantly, they love being planted in a spot that has 6–8 hours of sunlight each day. You could even grow sunflowers indoors in containers if you place them near a north facing window.

When and how to plant

Spring or early summer, when the soil is starting to warm up, is the best time to sow sunflower seeds. A typical flowering time is about 8–10 weeks. If you're sowing seeds in a garden bed, you should aim to place them about 60cm apart and 2cm deep. Before you plant, enrich the soil with some compost and give the soil a turn with a pitchfork so it is loose.

Companion planting

Good companions to plant alongside sunflowers include cucumbers, melons, sweetcorn and squash. You should avoid planting them next to potatoes and beans because sunflowers release toxins that can inhibit their growth.

How to care for sunflowers

Staking sunflowers

As your sunflowers grow, they will become top heavy and need staking. This will also protect them in high winds or in the rain.  

Sunflowers need a deep, regular watering. This will encourage good root growth and a large, heathy bloom. The ideal time to water is in the morning, as root rot can set in over cold nights. Sunflowers can also benefit from a liquid fertiliser every two to three weeks, which will boost their height.

Pests

You can spread a 10cm layer of mulch around them, which will help you keep the soil moist and will also prevent weeds from growing nearby. Snails and slugs love to eat young sunflower seedlings so it's a good idea to spread some snail and slug pellets in the early growing weeks.

Pruning

If you're looking to save the seeds to re-plant, you can prune 10cm below the flower heads. You should then be able to remove the seeds with a fork. To protect the seeds from birds, you may need to cover the flowers with bird netting before they are ready.

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

 

More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.