Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

How To Sow Sunflower Seeds

Sunflowers are cheap, cheerful, easy to grow and are loved by the birds

2015 is the year of the sunflower and it is one of the easiest plants to grow. They are good for the environment as the seeds feed birds well into the winter. They vary in size from small ones like ‘Teddy Bear’ at 45cm (18”) to ‘Russian Giant’ which reaches 3m (10’) so there will be one to suit any garden, and if you don’t have a garden some of the smaller ones are ideal in a container. They come in a huge range of colours from white to darkest burgundy, with all shades through the spectrum of yellows and oranges. The size of their heads range hugely from the size of a Dog Daisy to the huge dinner plate sized heads of the giants.



They are annuals but produce hundreds of seeds so you will always have a source of seed once you’ve bought the first packet. If you want a head start sow one seed in a 9cm (3”) pot in March and it should be flowering by mid-summer, otherwise you can leave them until the ground has warmed a little and sow them directly outside.

If you are sowing them in a pot use John Innes seed sowing compost. Fill the pot almost to the rim, tap the pot a couple of times on the work bench to settle the compost, firm the top then make a hole 2.5cm (1”) deep in the compost either with your finger or use a dibber. Place one seed end on into the hole and cover with compost.

Water after sowing by placing the pot in a saucer of water for about 20 minutes; don’t water from the top as this can result in the seed rotting.

Place somewhere light in a temperature of 20 – 25C (68 – 77F) until the seed germinates, this should take 2 – 3 weeks.

Once the seeds have germinated keep them somewhere light, cool and frost free. When all danger of frost is past plant into the ground or a container. Acclimatise first by increasing the amount of time spent outdoors. If it is a tall growing variety remember to put a cane in at the same time as it is planted.

If it is to be grown in the ground first enrich the soil with a forkful of good quality peat-free compost and a handful of blood, fish and bone or Growmore. Remember to keep it well watered. If growing in a container use John Innes No 3 compost with some slow release balanced fertiliser added.