How to Sow and Grow Sunflowers

Help & Advice

Gilboys Organic Sunflower Seeds

Free with every Gilboys purchase (except Oxalic Acid via Amazon Prime)

Growing Sunflowers is an enjoyable and straightforward experience for both children and adults alike. These large, bright yellow flowers are a classic symbol of summertime and can bring cheer to any garden or backyard. Sunflowers are not only aesthetically pleasing additions to summer borders and containers, but they also serve the important purpose of attracting and sustaining wildlife. Bees, butterflies, and seed-eating birds all flock to the nectar-rich blooms and nutrient-dense seeds that sunflowers provide.

Children in particular delight in watching sunflowers grow from seed to towering heights over the season. Planting sunflower seeds gives kids hands-on lessons in topics like germination, plant life cycles, pollination, and more. Sunflowers grow rapidly right before a child's eyes, providing great excitement. The flowers also make an excellent science project as children can measure the height, examine the spiraled seed heads, and observe insect and bird visitors. For adults, growing sunflowers is a gratifying way to bring natural beauty to any outdoor space while also supporting local ecosystems. With proper soil, sunlight, and drainage, anyone can succeed at growing sunflowers. Their resilience and low maintenance make them ideal for beginner and seasoned gardeners alike. For many, summertime just wouldn't be the same without these iconic yellow-petaled flowers turning their faces to soak in the sun.

    Key Facts:

  • Sunflowers are easy-to-grow annuals and perennials.
  • They attract Bees, butterflies and pollinators and seed-eating birds
  • Add height to garden borders
  • Sunflowers make long-lasting cut flowers

How to Sow and Grow Sunflowers

Sunflowers thrive when grown in full sun locations with fertile, well-draining soil. When preparing a new sunflower bed, incorporate several inches of rich compost or other organic matter into the soil to improve its structure and nutrient content. The soil should be loose and have good water retention capabilities. Sunflowers perform best in soil with a pH between 6.0-7.5. If planting in pots, choose a container large enough to accommodate the extensive root systems and use a quality potting mix. Sunflower seeds can be directly sown into the outdoor garden after the last frost date has passed. However, starting the seeds indoors gives the plants a head start on the growing season. Sow seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the expected last frost.

Here’s how to do it, step by step 

  • Fill a deep seed tray, old plastic cup or pot with some compost and poke your finger into it to make a small bed for the sunflower seed to sit in.
  • Drop a sunflower seed into the hole and cover it with a little compost.
  • Give the side of the pot a little tap to wake up the seed
  • Now give it a nice drink of water
  • Place them on nice light window sill and add a drop of water whenever the soil feels dry
  • If you have woken them up, 10 to 14 days later you should see the seeds germinate
  • When your seedling starts to outgrow its pot, plant it in a larger flower pot or a warm sunny spot in your garden.
  • Keep an eye out for the gardener's enemy. Slugs and snails love to dine out on tender young sunflowers.
  • Keep them well watered and feed them with an all purpose plant feed once a week if your soil isn't already rich with organic matter.
  • You might need to support the stems with a bamboo cane as they grow taller. After about 8 weeks you should have beautiful sunflowers for you to admire and plenty of nectar and pollen for the bees. When the sunflowers have finished flowering, remove the heads which are heavy with seeds, hang them somewhere airy to dry. When the head is dry rub your hands over the face and the seeds will jump off the head, save them and share them with the birds. Remember to keep a few to grow next year!

Why not share your sunflower growing success? Email your photos to and we will share your Gilboys sunflower experience on our socials.

About the Author: Simon Gilboy

Simon Gilboy

Simon's career began in furniture restoration in 1987.  Leaving school at 16 and signing on as an apprentice French Polisher at Staverton joinery, he has accumulated over 30 years experience in the restoration of fine and antique furniture.
In 1994 Simon opened the doors on the first Gilboy’s workshop at the Riverside in Staverton with financial and mentoring help from The Prince’s Trust.
In 2015 after years of searching for a beeswax furniture polish that would befit the fine furniture Gilboys were restoring, Simon developed his own beeswax polish using only the very best of responsibly-sourced ingredients.
Simon says, "My intention was not to compete with anyone on price, but to simply make the best beeswax polish it was possible to make"

You can usually find Simon in the Gilboys workshops filming instructional how-to videos for the Gilboys YouTube channel, on help forums, or actively finding new ways to preserve the past for the future.

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