Plant sunflowers and attract wildlife
The brightly coloured petals shout " Over here!" to bees and other pollinators, directing them to the central spirals of the sunflower. Sunflowers are formed of many hundreds of small tubular flowers, packed with nectar and pollen. The insects get covered in pollen as they feed. Pollination by wild bumblebees and bee species with longer tongues especially helps the plant produce more quality seed.
7 top tips for growing sunflowers
- You don’t need a garden Sunflowers will grow in pots but need space, as well as - yep, you guessed it - plenty of sun.
- Try growing different varieties Different bees like certain types of sunflower, so it's a good idea to try out a few different ones. Take a look at Alys Fowler's favourite sunflowers . Red sunflowers aren't thought to be as attractive to bees.
- Keep a sunflower diary with your children You could include notes, drawings, paintings and photos. How much has your sunflower grown this week? Which bees like your sunflower the best? This makes a fun activity at home or at school.
- Try pollinator-friendly varieties Two varieties recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society’s Perfect for Pollinators plant list are Helianthus annuus (Common sunflower) and Helianthus debilis (Cucumber leaf sunflower).
- Consider flowering times Bees need food all year round. Early sunflowers, generally dwarf varieties, come out in late June. Others like the perennial sunflower bloom in September and October.
- Leave flowers to turn to seeds in autumn and winter Let the birds feast on them.
- Cut and dry the stems Use the stems to create a bee hotel once flowering is over. Leaving the roots in will return nutrients to the soil.