There’s a reason I’m sure that Vincent Van Gogh painted sunflowers. Many experts believe he suffered from bi-polar disorder, and the sunflowers he saw in the fields of Arles must have given him hope in some of his darkest times. They are certainly one of my favourite flowers to grow on the allotment; providing both colour and height, as well as being a great source of food for both insects and birds.
This year we’ve grown a range of sunflowers, from the massive (well, meant to be) Russian Giant, to much smaller red varieties. Sunflowers need full sun; perhaps as much as 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day is needed – the more the better really. They need a well-drained location, and as they are heavy feeders, you’ll need to incorporate a load of organic matter into the soil too. I use a combination of some home made compost and a scattering of chicken manure pellets. I tend to sow seeds in a similar mix, then transplant the seedlings when they are about 15cm. Apparently, if you want gigantic sunflowers the trick is to sow them in situ (so as not to damage the tap root when planting out). I don’t tend to do this as I find the slugs and snails at the plot take a liking to the small seedlings, with disastrous consequences.
As they grow, the plants need support for the stem. This can be done by placing a cane near the stem and loosely tying the cane to the plant with string. Make sure the cane is the correct size, its easier to give a big cane to a small seedling and watch it grow, than to swap a small cane for a larger one. Sown in the next week or so, they will produce beautiful radiant flowers in August. Something to cheer up anyone’s day.
I’m also dead chuffed to be shortlisted in the FOOD category for the BIBS (Brilliance in Blogging Award). If you think I deserve to be in the final then please vote for me by clicking on the picture below. Thank you for all your support!