The search is on to grow the biggest sunflower head – here’s how to enter the competition

This is a great challenge for friends or even your child’s class – who can grow the biggest sunflower head?
Not the biggest but the lovely Velvet Queen.Not the biggest but the lovely Velvet Queen.
Not the biggest but the lovely Velvet Queen.

Run by seed company Mr Fothergill’s, the competition is open to anyone and any type of sunflower can be grown.

Mr Fothergill’s suggests Sunflower Pudsey – for each packet sold, 30p is donated to the BBC’s annual Children in Need appeal.

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A sunflower head.A sunflower head.
A sunflower head.

You could also turn the challenge into a fundraising event for Children in Need, visit for great ways of doing this.

You have until September 30 to grow and measure your sunflower for the competition.

Post a picture on Mr Fothergill’s Facebook page – or on Twitter – of your flower head showing the proof of its size.

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Use a tape measure to show the width of the flower head, NOT including the petals.

Small in height but big-headed, the Solar Flash!Small in height but big-headed, the Solar Flash!
Small in height but big-headed, the Solar Flash!

There will be prizes of Mr Fothergill’s seeds for the top three entries – £50 worth for the winner, £30 for second and £20 for third place.

For larger heads, try applying a feed and water well only once the flower head starts to appear.

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Share your tips on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #SunflowerTips.

The rules:

Winners will be chosen after the competition closes at midnight on September 30, 2019.

There are three prizes with the three largest sunflower heads chosen based on the photos submitted proving their size.

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The competition judge’s decisions will be final.

There is no cash alternative, the prize is non-transferable and may not be substituted by the winner.

If you are not the sunflower grower and the photograph you submit is not yours, Mr Fothergill’s reserves the right to disqualify such entries from the competition.

Mr Fothergill’s Sunflower Pudsey (RRP £1.99) is available from garden retailers Homebase and online at

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* For more information, plus cook what you grow, recipes, environmental news and more, log on to the website at – which is also now smartphone friendly.

You can also follow Mandy on social media platforms – on Twitter @MandyCanUDigIt or you can like her on her Facebook page at Mandycanudigit


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* As climbing roses send out shoots, pull them down to the horizontal. This will encourage flowering shoots to emerge all along the stem.

* As weeds start to emerge and flourish, hoe regularly to stop them from becoming a problem. Remember to check under cloches too. Get to know what vegetable seedlings look like, so you don’t hoe them off by mistake.

* Dig in overwintered green matures three to four weeks before you want to use the ground. Using a sharp spade, turn the plants back into the soil, chopping them up as you go.

* Pot on dahlia and begonia tubers and pinch out tips of fuchsias and other half-hardy plants.

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* Sow perennials in modules or small pots. Prick out once leaves are large enough to handle. Plant out when well-established. Some perennials may flower this year, others will take longer.

* Plant up hanging baskets. This gives them plenty of time to bulk up. If you use fuchsias, remember that they prefer shadier conditions, so sit them under the staging out of direct sunlight.

* Pest populations start to increase dramatically now. Be vigilant and don’t allow infestations to build up. Use organic treatments, such as insecticidal soap, to control problems until the temperatures are warm enough for biological controls to be introduced.

* Once it’s warm enough, introduce biological controls in the greenhouse. Use the predatory mite Phytoselius to control red spider mite, the tiny wasp Aphidius for aphids and the predatory mite Hypoaspis for control or sciarid fly. mite Hypoaspis for control of sciarid fly.

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* Hard-prune shrubby herbs such as sage, cotton lavender (Santolina), bay and rue. This will encourage vigorous new growth and side-shoots. Trim old stems from marjoram and savory, if not already done. Prune lavender into shape, taking care not to cut into the old wood. Offcuts can be used as softwood cuttings. Old, woody plants are best removed.

* The soil will be warming up at last. Delay seed sowing in open soil until you can see weeds growing strongly.