Kids Go Gardening - how to grow sunflowers

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It’s time to plant summer’s sunniest, tallest flowers! Choose your favourite variety, plant some seeds and watch them grow. How many days until they grow taller than you? How tall will they be when they flower? Have fun with your friends to see who grows the tallest. They grow super fast and they can have flowers as big as dinner plates!

Growing sunflowers from seed is one of summer’s most enjoyable activities. Seed can be sown from spring till mid summer. Flowers appear within ninety days after sowing and will brighten the garden for many weeks. Stems grow as fast as 30cm per week. They’ll last two to three weeks in a vase.

There are lots of different sunflowers, even dwarf ones such as Little Ted at just 45cm, which is perfect for growing in pots. For a really tall sunflower, try Yates Ginormous FlowerZilla, which can grow up to 5m tall! All are easy to grow from seed and it’s time to plant them now!

How to grow sunflowers

  • Choose a sunny sheltered patch of soil and give it a good water the day before you plant.
  • You might have a wall or fence you can grow sunflowers against. If not get help to bang some stakes firmly in the ground about 40cm apart. This will stop them blowing over in the wind.
  • Sow seeds about 1cm deep. Hint: If you have plenty of seeds, sow in pairs and pull out the weakest when they start to grow.
  • Water enough to keep the soil moist (not wet).
  • As your plants grow tie them gently to their stakes with stretchy ties (you can make these by cutting up old socks or undies).
  • Water to keep the soil just moist and feed them every week with liquid fertiliser.


  • Before you plant, mix some compost into the soil.
  • Sunflowers don’t like being moved. If you sow the seed in pots transplant them into the garden before they get too big, or start them off in peat pots (or make biodegradable pots from empty toilet rolls) so you can plant them in the ground pot-and-all.
  • You may want to cover your seeds to prevent birds and mice eating them.
  • When they start to grow, feed them with liquid fertiliser or worm wees from your worm farm. Because they grow so fast sunflowers need plenty of food and water.

Sunflower visitors

Bees, butterflies and other insects visit sunflowers to feast on pollen and nectar. Meanwhile, the pollen sticks to their bodies and they spread it from flower to flower. Without these insect pollinators there would be no sunflower seeds and no more sunflowers.

Hint: Sunflowers planted in a large group for a big block of colour are more likely to attract visitors – especially butterflies.

Fun facts:

  • Sunflowers attract good bugs such as lacewings, which eat aphids and other pests.
  • The tallest ever recorded was 7 metres!
  • Sunflowers will turn to face the sun.
  • In the centre of each sunflower are hundreds of seeds (sometimes up to 1000!), which birds love to eat.
  • A sunflower isn’t just one flower! It’s a compound flower made of a whole lot of little flowers called florets. The colourful ray florets are around the edges. The disc florets are in the centre where the seeds grow.
  • Sunflowers seeds are full of healthy goodness and they are delicious roasted, but we have to remove their hard seed coats before we eat them.  Place seeds in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crack the seed shells. Tip them into a bowl of  water and the shells will rise to the surface.

Grow a summer hideaway!

Tall plants like sunflowers, beans and corn make fantastic huts. Sow some seed today and before school goes back after Christmas you’ll have a fantastic spot to keep cool on a hot day, read a book or hang out with your best friend.

Sow your seeds in a circle or a square, with enough room in the middle to sit and play. Then water, feed and watch your hut grow!! Use stakes for sunflowers or beans. Corn will support itself – and you can even use corn as a support for sunflowers or beans. Lay straw to make a cosy floor in your hut, and to stop weeds from growing.

Seeds to eat

Sunflower seed is highly nutritious, enjoyed by both humans and birds. Its time to harvest the seeds when they begin to turn brown and the backs of the flower head turns yellow. Cut off the head and hang upside down to dry in a warm dry place. To prepare for eating: soak seed overnight in salt water, dry, then roast until crunchy.

Sunflower seed & chocolate chip cookies

2 cups rolled oats (finely ground)
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
125 butter, melted
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 cup sunflower seeds (roasted & unsalted)
1/2 cup chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a food processor, blitz the rolled oats until they are almost like flour. Add the sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and mix thoroughly. Add butter and golden syrup and lastly the toasted sunflower seeds and chocolate. Roll into balls and flatten on a tray lined with baking paper.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until cookies are golden brown around the edges. Cool before eating.





Sunflower seed & chocolate chip cookies