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How to Plant Sunflower Seeds (for Best Results!)

In this video, Dave demonstrates how to plant sunflower seeds and how to germinate them to give them the best chance of growing tall and strong.

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Here’s what Dave says in this video…

So this morning in the greenhouse, I’m going to show you how to plant sunflower seeds. We’ve got three different varieties. They’re all sorta five, six foot in height because we’re going to grow them in a raised bed.

Short Sunflower Varieties

It’s difficult because of the weather. If it’s breezy it tends to to loosen the roots and it can blow them over. So because they’re in the raised bed, I’m going to grow the shorter varieties. So we’ve got one called Earth Walker, one called Sunburst and one called Red Sun.

How to Plant Sunflower Seeds

I’m going to set two to each pot. And what we’ll do is once they germinate, we’ll thin out the weaker one and whether you want to pot that one up, it’s entirely up to you. But they can transplant quite well. I’m gonna set them in these small three inch pots. I’ve got three different colored pots because I’m going to just put one label in. So it’s just so I can tell which is which. So we’ll start off with the red sun. Now each of them, are set just half an inch deep, in good quality peat free compost. So it’s just a matter of tapping your compost down and getting these seeds So these are quite a dark seed. So I’m just going to put two in each pot just so that we can thin out. The weakest one and it gives us a bit of an insurance policy that we’re going to get at least one per pot germinate They do germinate quite well. So I’ll put the Red Sun in the Red Pot just just for my benefit. So it’s quite a quick and easy job to do. So you can do it inside. The weather’s not good like it’s not today.

Are Sunflowers Frost Hardy?

We’re setting them sort of six weeks before the last frost. So they are not frost hardy sunflowers. The frost will kill them. So we’ll keep them indoors until then. But what we will do sort of seven, ten days before they go outside, we’ll what we call harden them off. So we’ll put them out during the day. And then bring them in at night just to protect them. Again, there’s no frost forecast. That should be fine. But as soon as it gets to last week of May, beginning of June, you can, you can pop it into your garden, and it should be fine in this area so that the north east midlands, it’s you can get frostright up to the end of May. So it’s best just to keep them inside because you spend a lot of time and effort growing them, you know, lot of care. If you set them six weeks in advance in a greenhouse, you’ve got more chance of flowering.

Repeat Flowering Sunflower Seeds

These are what we these are like a repeat flower. So they’ll have a large flower at the top and then they’ll get shoots off the side and they’ll have extra flowers. So they’ll flower quite a way through the summer, which is quite nice. That’s why I’m getting them in early. So I can get them out and May, early June, depending on the weather. And then they’ll be off and away and you just need to make sure you support them.

Problems to Avoid When Planting Sunflower Seeds

The other thing to do with sunflowers as well is not to let them get too leggy because once they get leggy they tend to either want to fall over or, or break the stem and the stem can split as well if you don’t keep the water consistent. That’s, that’s why the stem sometimes split and that can weaken the plant. So consistent watering, they do like a decent amount of water and they are quite a greedy plant because they obviously get quite big. Yeah. So again, just two seeds in each pot, just put them an inch apart, half an inch deep on the side if they’ll go on the side. Are these all the same sort of size? Quite often the bigger the sunflower, the bigger the seed is. So the ones that we grew last year, the hopi black dye ones, the seed was sort of twice the size of this because that grew to, I think we grew over , feet tall yeah. And again we had just grown it in it, we had grown it in a container. We had to stake it quite heftily, tie it to the shed because it was a bit breezy last year, but it survived. It grew to foot tall.

How to Germinate Sunflower Seeds

So as I say, I’ve colour coordinated the pots just for my benefit. Method to me madness! They will need some warmth to germinate. So it’s about covering them over. Or having them in your greenhouse. It would have to be a heated greenhouse though really, because they do like quite a bit of warmth to germinate. But what I’m gonna do is just going to stick a little three propagator over the top. And stick it on a warm windowsill. So again, two to a pot. As soon as they germinate, Take the plastic bag off, or the propagator off them. Because you don’t want them. The moisture in there can affect them so you just want the warmth to get them to germinate. So those in the So again, just firm the compost down around them. There just needs to be contact with the compost. Label them up. And what we want to do then is just give them a drink. So, yeah, just give them a reasonable drink. Just want them wet not saturated. Because this is going on a windowsill, it is a, a tray without drainage. And so it’s not going to wet your windowsill through. And all I’m going to do with that, you can, if you wish put each pot in a little clear plastic bag and tie it off at the bottom. And then they’ll, they’ll germinate but I’m going to do is I’m just going to use an old donut top. Push those right in. And then that’ll sit on the top. Put it on a warm, sunny windowsill. They should germinate. I’ve known them germinate in three days, but somewhere between a week and a fortnight. They’re quite easy to germinate sunflowers, but as soon as they do, germinate, take them out of the bag or take the propagator off and let them grow on for a few days. On your windowsill, don’t let them get more than an inch two inches tall. Otherwise, they’ll get leggy because they’ll draw to the sun. And then get them into a greenhouse if you’ve got one. If not, you might just need to rotate it. Just so you’re not letting them have the sun at one side all the time.

When to Transplant Sunflowers

The last week of May, beginning of June, you can take them outside, during the day and then plant them out at the beginning of June.