Self Seeding Sunflowers

The veg patch was a hive of activity for sunflower seedlings earlier this year. Seeds were planted on the wind and by wild birds, eagerly feeding on seed heads left over from last summer. Easily recognisable by their large almost wax-like seed leaves, most had to be thinned due to self seeding in the most awkward of places.

Seedlings growing in good positions were each given a bottle cloche, they grew big and strong (annoyingly I lost a few to slugs one night because I forgot to cover them). By recycling 2 litre plastic drink bottles and turning them into cloches, instantly a warm environment safe from slugs can be achieved for next to nothing. Just cut the bottom of the bottle off, place it over your chosen seedling or plant and remove the lid to allow ventilation. Remove the bottle cloche during the day in hot weather to avoid scorching and remove permanently once the plants grow large and fill out.

I’ve measured them at just over 10 feet tall, not exactly giants I know but they’re just how I love sunflowers to be, tall with large flower heads. Sunflowers that I raised from bought seed were disappointing. As long as the sunflowers keep self seeding, I won’t bother sowing them.

Accidental Sunflowers

I adore sunflowers, especially the giant varieties. I grow them every year, always hoping to grow one just that little bit taller or with a bigger bloom than the year before. Once they’re past their best, rather than pull them out I leave them in situ, all through autumn and winter, right through to late spring. The flower heads eventually provide seeds for wild birds and a place to shelter for insects.

Seeds dropped by birds or carried on the wind fall to the ground, self-seeding/sowing where they land. Recently I noticed sunflower seedlings appearing here and there, not too far from where their parents once stood. Some of the seedlings started life in awkward places, on the pathways between the raised beds for example. Fortunately, quite a few germinated in good positions, places that I probably would have chosen for them to be. I’m nurturing these seedlings through the cold nights by covering them with homemade plastic bottle cloches to keep their growing environment warm, this also helps to prevent slugs devouring the young plants during the night.

I will be sowing more sunflowers using bought seed but I think these seedlings are extra special. Nature, sowing sunflowers.