In Spring, plant your sunflower seeds into pots filled with potting mix. We ask that you do this around the week of Halloween (which is October 31st) so that our flowers bloom around New Zealand all at the same time. A good way to plant them is to press your forefinger into the soil, and then drop the seed into the hole that it leaves – not too shallow and not too deep. Then sprinkle a light blanket of potting mix overtop.
Once potted, keep your seeds damp. Don’t let them dry out or they won’t germinate. They will pop up out of the soil in about 10 days if they are keep warm and damp. Keep watering and start feeding them some organic fertiliser if you want to – sunflowers love food and this great start to life will ensure big, strong plants.
When the seedlings are about 20cm tall, you can take them out of the pots and plant them in the ground. Ask your friends, family or school to get involved as this is can be a fun community event.
If you want to plant the flowers down your street, it’s a really good idea to knock on doors and tell people why you are doing it – it’s a great way to say hi to your community! We’ve previously done flyer drops to mailboxes beforehand to let locals know we are coming.
Your sunflower plants will need a thick layer of compost and mulch to keep them from drying out. They may need to be staked as wind is not kind to them. It is also important to keep up frequent watering, so that after about 12 weeks you can see the magnificent sight of your sunflowers beginning to peep open.
When the sunflowers have finished flowering, they will bow their heads and look tired. They bow their heads to protect their seed from the wind. As you watch the seed slowly turn brown over the weeks, you will notice the birds getting interested in them too! It is then time to cut the heads and store them some place very dry so that they can totally dry out, before you store them away for next year.
Remember to leave some for the birds to eat!
And please remember to send us photos of your beautiful sunflowers to projectsunshineaotearoa(at)gmail(dot)com, or post them on our Facebook page, for everyone to enjoy.