How to Grow Sunflowers

Under an hour

Planting sunflowers is a fun activity for the whole family, and one of the easiest ways to provide food for birds in your garden. Feeding birds is a great way to help them through difficult times of year. But using your garden to 'produce the goods' is really fulfilling and better for your carbon footprint. Sunflowers are useful plants to have in a wildlife-friendly garden. Bees, and sometimes butterflies, love the nectar and feed on the flowers when they’re in full bloom. Then greenfinches and goldfinches will munch on the seedheads.

Step-by-step guide

Grow tasty food for birds video screenshot

Sow your seed. You can sow the seed directly into the ground in late April or early May, but it’s best to sow them in pots in late March or April to keep them safe from slugs and snails until they are planted out at about 30cm tall.

Fill a 7.5 cm pot (or slightly larger) with peat-free compost. Poke one seed per pot down into the compost. Cover with about 1 cm of compost, and then water.

Place in a warm position. Use a propagator lid if you have one. Or you can make your own mini cover to protect your plants by cutting the top off a fizzy drink bottle.



Plant out in a sheltered position once the risk of frost has passed. Sunflowers like to grow in a rich soil. Protect them as best you can from slug and snail damage, by using copper bands, broken eggshells, or any other organic slug control methods. You might need to do an evening slug patrol to keep them from eating your new shoots.


Stake and water. As your sunflowers grow, you may need to tie them to canes to stop them blowing over. Keep well-watered through the summer as your little seedlings turn into giants.

What you will need

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pots
  • Peat-free compost
  • Stakes
  • Twine or wire