The Sun is giving away FREE sunflowers seeds to bring some cheer while we’re in lockdown — get yours now – The Sun

THE sun is out – now let’s get the sunflowers out, too.

These magnificent blooms are perfect for bringing some cheer while we are all stuck in our homes and gardens.

So today we are giving away FREE seeds so all our readers can grow their very own Sun flowers.

It is the perfect time of year to plant them — and they are easy and quick to grow. Kids will love getting involved, too.

I have been growing sunflowers with schoolchildren up and down the country for many years and can vouch for their popularity with younger gardeners.

They are also brilliant for the environment — boosting the ­numbers of bees, insects and birds we see around us.

Be one of the first to grow our very own Sun sunflower (helianthus soleil) offered ­exclusively today in our ten-seed packets.

Growing up to 2ft high, they are suitable for balcony pots and patio containers, as well as ­borders or even a low hedge.

We already have rainbows celebrating the NHS brightening our windows during lockdown. Now let’s make ­sunflowers shine from every window sill, patio and garden across the land.

SIMPLE STEPS

If you enjoy growing our seeds, there are lots of other varieties you can try, too.

The very tall ­sunflowers, such as Kong, Giraffe and Tall Timbers, grow to more than 20ft high.

The intermediates go up to 6ft and the babies, including our seeds, reach about 2ft.

Above all, they are easy and fun to raise. Just follow my ­simple steps below.

GET YOUR FREE PACKET OF SEEDS

HERE’S your chance to grow your very own sunflowers with a FREE packet of seeds.

Make the most of your garden, patio or balcony while at home with our great helianthus soleil giveaway.

Our sunflower soleils are perfect for homes of any size as they are shorter than traditional blooms.

They are also easy to grow, so perfect for novice gardeners. To claim your free packet of seeds, go to sunoffers.co.uk/sunflower and follow the simple instructions.

Make sure you are quick as there are only 10,000 packets available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Once you have ordered your free packet of seeds, they will be posted direct to you.sunoffers.co.uk/sunflower

How to grow 'em

PLACE your seeds half an inch deep into damp soil and they will be spouting ­in a couple of weeks.

Sow two or three batches at three to four-week ­intervals to get a continuous stream of flowers.

The shorter, quick-growing early kinds will be in flower in 60 to 70 days. The big ones will take longer.

Or raise the seedlings indoors so the children can watch their progress. To do that, place seeds on a damp kitchen paper towel in a clean container.

As soon as you see tiny roots emerge, plant them into small pots or trays of moist ­potting compost.

Now they need full light and can go on to a window sill or patio table.

Check regularly to see the compost does not dry out.

Once they are six or more inches high they can be planted either in final containers or out in the garden.

EIGHT WAYS THEY ARE GOOD FOR EVERYTHING

HERE, Guy Barter – chief horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural Society – lists eight brilliant ­benefits of sunflowers.

  1. The rough, hairy leaves help to capture and store air pollution.
  2. They are also well known for absorbing ­pollution through their roots.
  3. The seeds are rich in nutrients and excellent food for many birds.
  4. They are rich in nectar, loved by bees and other pollinators.
  5. Being water-efficient, they can get by without watering in the UK.
  6. Their large woody stems are ideal for garden composting.
  7. Vigorous fibrous roots improve the soil, helping it to soak up water and retain nutrients.
  8. Easy to grow and loved by kids, which will encourage them to support the environment.

Win £50 garden vouchers

ASK children to draw a flower and they usually sketch out a sunflower – a single stem with yellow petals ­surrounding a dark central disc.

So if you’re aged under 14, show us your drawing skills and you could win a £50 National Garden gift token.

Send your colourful drawings or ­paintings to [email protected] the-sun.co.uk by May 2, 2020, and I will pick my top ten artists, who will each receive a £50 token.

We will also be giving away another ten vouchers for the best ­photos of your sunflowers when they start flowering this summer.

Send those photographs to [email protected] by September 30, 2020.

For full T&Cs here.

How sunflowers can help save the planet

By Alison Kirkman, Greenpeace campaigner

BY paying attention to your garden, balcony, window sill – or even that unloved patch of ground down the road – you can unlock a host of benefits for yourself, your kids and your community.

You can encourage wildlife to thrive. Hedges, trees, flowers and even grass are havens for important critters, from birds and hedgehogs to frogs and beetles.

You don’t need a sprawling estate to make a difference.

One of the best things about sunflowers is their ability to absorb toxins. After the nuclear disasters at Hiroshima, Chernobyl and Fukushima, fields of sunflowers were planted to reduce toxic metals and radiation levels in the soil.

They are also perfect for pollinating insects including bees and butterflies. And at the very end of their life they produce enough seeds to feed a flock of birds.

There are plenty more simple ways we can help the environment from our gardens, too.

Eating more fruit and veg and less meat is something we can all do. Tomatoes, beetroot, courgette and lettuce are easy to grow and can be sown indoors now and put on a sunny window sill to germinate. Use cardboard toilet roll tubes or egg boxes for this.

Plant the seeds by following the packet instructions and keep them moist until they are ready to plant outside.

Lettuce will grow just as easily indoors or on a balcony if you prick out the smaller seedlings to give the stronger ones more space.

If herbs are your thing, include lemon balm. A few leaves steeped in hot water makes a fragrant tea that can help calm anxiety.

Plant herbs as near to the kitchen as you can so you can grab a handful when you’re cooking.

Plants and flowers provide food for nature but you can also build a home for frogs, ladybirds, beetles and other insects – it’s a great way for kids to see them up close.

You don’t need anything fancy. Old bricks, bits of wood, logs, layers of cardboard, twigs, roof tiles or broken terracotta pots piled up in a semi-organised heap will do. The idea is to create lots of tiny, different-sized spaces for creatures to crawl into.

Just be sure to put something waterproof on top to keep out the rain.

You can even create a “hedgehog highway” by cutting a small hole – about the size of a CD – at the base of your fence on both sides of the garden. Encourage your neighbours to do the same, too, as hedgehogs like to roam large distances and this stops them getting penned in.

If you haven’t got a garden, growing plants on your balcony or window sill can be just as beneficial for you and for nature.

And if you’re struggling for space there too, when you’re out on your daily exercise take note of unused bits of ground – around the base of street trees, on roadside verges, abandoned empty planters – that might benefit from a bit of colour.

Plant your sunflower seeds there and watch them grow as you walk, run or cycle past each day.

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