Home Editor's pick Take part in the Knowsley Sunflower Challenge!

Take part in the Knowsley Sunflower Challenge!

by Gemma Melling

Sunflowers are bright and cheerful – a great centrepiece in any garden.

Best of all – they’re one of the easiest plants to grow from seed – with some of the most spectacular results!

We all know that sunflowers can grow incredibly tall, which is one of the reasons we find them so fascinating. They’re a fantastic plant to grow with children, too, as they’re very easy to look after.

But there are many different varieties of sunflower. You can also grow dwarf sunflowers, which can be kept in pots and even used in cut flower arrangements, or sunflowers which have multiple flower heads on each plant. And although when we think of sunflowers we usually think of the sunny yellow varieties, they also come in different shades including red, orange, bronze and even white.

They’re a very inexpensive plant to grow, too – with packets of sunflower seeds costing only a couple of pounds – it’s also really easy to save your seeds at the end of the season when the sunflower has dried out – meaning more flowers for next year!

This year, with the Knowsley Flower Show unable to go ahead for a second time, organisers are hoping that people across the borough will take the sunflower into their hearts and join a mass growing challenge instead.

flower of a sunflower in the garden with house in the background

What is the Knowsley Sunflower Challenge, and how do I take part?

It’s really easy to take part. Simply sow your sunflowers now – then in a few months time, share your pictures of your flower in full bloom!

It’s a great activity which anyone can join in with – no gardening experience is necessary and you don’t need a lot of equipment – just some seeds, soil and a few plant pots of different sizes.

If you aren’t able to get hold of sunflower seeds, contact the council – a supply of sunflower seeds, kindly donated by Halewood farmer Olly Harrison – is available for you to use. These are the same seeds which Olly used to grow his Sunflower Maze last year – raising thousands for charities– so you’ll be sure of a great looking flower!

We’ve produced a step-by-step guide to make growing your sunflower really easy:

Young Boy Planting Sunflower Seeds

  1. Put compost into a small container – it could be a plant pot, seed tray or even a cardboard tube. Fill it almost to the top – leave about 1cm gap.
  2. Add one sunflower seed per small container – push it gently into the compost, but not too far down. Add a layer of compost on the top and gently firm it down.
  3. Give it a good watering and put it somewhere warm and bright – you could do this outdoors but the seeds will likely germinate better on a sunny windowsill indoors.
  4. In around a week or two, you should start to see the first little shoot of green from your seed. Don’t let your sunflower dry out and let it grow on in the pot for a few weeks whilst it begins to get bigger.
  5. Once it is outgrowing its first container, you can transplant it into a bigger pot, and let it continue to grow. Once it reaches about 30cm in height, you can plant them out in the garden or move them to a bigger pot outside (but don’t do this before at least May when the risk of frost should be passed).

You can help your sunflower grow really big and tall by feeding it with a liquid fertiliser twice a week once you’ve planted it in its final position.

And in the summer, once your sunflower comes into bloom, you can share your pictures on the Knowsley Flower Show Facebook page, or email them to carla.simkin@knowsley.gov.uk. Let everyone know when your flower first appears and how tall your plant has grown!

You can also share your progress – and see how others are getting on – by posting pictures as you grow to social media using the hashtag #knowsleysunflowerchallenge.