Thompson & Morgan are offering a record ?1,000 cash prize for the tallest UK sunflower.
The company is hoping to see the world record for the tallest sunflower brought to UK Shores, mail order and plant specialist, but the prize will be won whether it breaks the record or not.
Gardeners looking to get their hands on the prize can grow any sunflower variety supplied by any seed firm. At the end of the season, when plants are at their peak and upward growth has stopped, all they need do is take a photo of their plant and upload it to the competition page at www.thompson-morgan.com/competitions
Photo entries must include the whole plant from soil level to the top of the flower and you must pose alongside your plant to give an idea of scale ? you?ll need to state your height and the height of your plant when submitting your entry. To give gardeners the longest season to produce a record breaker, the competition will remain open until the end of Friday 23rd October. Plants entered into the competition must be kept in situ where they are grown in order for winning entries to be verified – finalists will be notified and a member of Thompson & Morgan staff will visit to verify and measure the entries.
The current Guinness World Record, a whopping 8.75m (28ft 8in) giant grown in 2013, was raised by Hans-Peter Schiffer of Kaarst-Vorst, Germany.
Timely tips for growing a towering giant:
- Dig out a 10cm (4in) deep moat around each plant, 45cm (18in) away from the stem.
- Use this to apply regular water and a weekly feed of up to four gallons (two watering cans of diluted liquid fertiliser)
- Apply a weekly foliar food of liquid seaweed solution. Do this late in the day to avoid sun scorch.
- Sunflower roots can grow down to 1.2m (4ft). As an alternative to the moat, use a thick stake to create a ring of deep holes around the plant and apply water and feed into these for deep penetration.
- Before flowering use a general purpose feed to encourage good stem growth.
- Once flowering starts use a high potash tomato feed.
- Plants should need no staking, but if high winds are forecast delay watering to keep stems light and avoid chances of blowing over.
Not growing as tall as you?d hoped? Thompson & Morgan will also reward the most creative use of sunflowers in a second photography competition. If towering giants aren?t your thing, why not send in a snap of smaller varieties this summer such as ?Helios Flame? and the unusual basket variety ?Inca Gold? ? there will be a ?50 Thompson & Morgan voucher available for the two most creative entries supplied by the end of Friday 30th October. See www.thompson-morgan.com/competitions for details.