By Megan Slack
Celebrated gardener Monty Don has revealed his favorite sunflower and how to ensure the plant grows healthy and tall – just days before he recommends planting.
See: How to grow sunflowers – a step-by-step guide
According to Monty’s blog, the middle of May is an ideal time to plant ‘tender annuals’, including sunflowers, which can be ‘planted out into all but the coldest gardens, especially if you have hardened them off for at least a week’. May offers a warmer climate for seeds to germinate, which happens when the soil reaches approximately 70 to 85ºF.
The pinnacle time to plant is slightly before the ground reaches this temperature. However, before planting these pockets of sunshine, we’re taking notes of Monty’s favorite sunflower and how to grow them almost as gloriously as he does.
Monty Don’s favorite sunflower
Monty Don's sunflower growing tip #1: Staking
Monty admires the Russian Giant's ability to grow ‘exceptionally tall’ but urges readers to stake it early to stop it falling to the ground.
‘Often this will not damage the plants, but they very quickly turn to find the sun and start growing with a crick in their neck so that when you right them again, they are permanently bent,’ Monty adds. Though, whether you invest in a Russian Giant or any other sunflower, Monty’s advice remains the same.
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‘Planting them is easy enough. Sunflowers will grow in most soils, they don’t need any special treatment, but they do need sunshine,’ Monty shares in a demonstration for BBC Gardeners World.
He continues, sharing one important tip to remember whilst planting: ‘The crucial thing is not the soil, but they must be staked properly from the beginning.'
Monty focuses on how to support our sunflowers to prevent them from breaking as they grow taller. He encourages us not to rely on a cane, for giant sunflowers particularly. Instead, he urges us to invest in a ‘stake of some kind’.
‘It’s really important to tie it as it grows because it’s going to be big and top-heavy. There is a real risk of it bending and flopping, if not breaking. If you want maximum height, it has to grow as straight as possible,’ he shares.
2. Monty Don's sunflower growing tip #2: Water and feed
'Keep them watered – water them once a week, and if you want to go for maximum height, you can feed them with a general-purpose tomato feed once a week or once a fortnight,’ he says.
Monty Don's sunflower growing tip #3: Position
‘Space them about 12-18 inches apart in a sunny situation that is sheltered from strong winds and water them well. As long as the temperature does not drop below 5ºC (41ºF), they should grow strongly and flower well into autumn,’ Monty adds in his blog.
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