Sunflowers are by far the most fun plant to grow from seed with children. Plant a good handful and see which grows the tallest. You can even have a friendly competition amongst family members, friends or neighbours to see whose sunflower grows the tallest. The first year I tried growing sunflowers from seed I was really perplexed because the majority of them were “beheaded” throughout May. I did a little research and it turned out that the culprit was actually wasps, who do it for the cellulose sap in the stems which they use for making their nests. We found that this activity waned towards the end of spring, so it’s worth waiting a while before planting them out directly, unless you’re willing to protect the stems with tin foil from the base to the flower head (which wouldn’t be very pretty). If height is not so important to you, it’s not always the end of the world if your stem gets a bit munched. We left our munched stems to see what happened, and we ended up with several flower heads to a single stem.
When we are landscaping we are professional, but our private garden is the place where we can experiment and learn these fascinating things. This year we have bought Ladybird Poppy seeds from the RHS Garden Explorers Children’s seed range to try with our little girl, so watch this space!