Common name: Sunflower

Helianthus annus is a tall growing plant that grows up to 3.6 metres (12ft) high with flowers that depending upon variety, can be as much as 300mm (12") across.

They need almost no attention to produce their plate-sized flowers and reach great heights.

Because of these attributes it is a popular subject for children to grow.

Similarly, it is often used for charity funding, where the seeds are sold to the general public, and a prize is given for the tallest plant, or perhaps the largest flower head, or both.

The single or double flowerheads are usually seen as yellow petals surrounding a large brown centre, however new varieties have been produced with flowers in many shades from lime green, through yellow and orange to mahogany.

In some areas, it is grown commercially as a crop to produce cooking oil.

Single Variety

In the garden the flowers are often left in place to attract and feed wild birds in autumn/winter.

Alternatively, once the flower has faded the flower head can be hung up in a convenient part of the garden to act as a natural bird feeder.

If not used for either of the aforementioned, remove dead flowers to prevent self-seeding.



Sow seeds in 75mm (3") pots of seed compost and germinate at a temperature of 16°C (60°F).

Germination should take about five or six days.

Week 16:

Prick out seedlings if large enough to handle.

Grow on at a minimum temperature of 10°C (50°F) for a week to ten days then place in a frost free coldframe until planting out time.

Week 20:

Plant out in well-drained soil in a sunny position, insert a stout cane/stake into planting hole prior to planting to avoid root damage at a later date.

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