How sunflowers and gladiolus are grown in the UK
Sunflowers and gladiolus are two popular flower varieties often found in summer bouquets and arrangements. Although originally from hot and sunny climates, these splendid flowers have one important thing in common; they’re both grown right here in the UK.
Butters Group is a successful horticultural business that includes a four-acre glasshouse and a 23,000 square foot flower pack-house. As well as cut flowers, they also supply plants, bulbs and containers to a number of businesses. Based in Spalding, Lincolnshire, Butters was founded in 1973 and grows a number of flower and plant varieties for distribution across the UK, including sunflowers and gladiolus.
Ross Dennison, General Manager at Butters, offers these handy tips for growing sunflowers and gladiolus in the UK:
Latin Name: Helianthus
Common Name: Sunflowers
Propagation: By seed
Germination: 5-10 days at 68 -72 F
Planting: Drilled directly into the soil, covered in fleece at the start of sowing to create a microclimate for germination and plant establishment. Planting weeks to finish between 8 -11 weeks (depending on weather conditions)
Origin: United States
Growth rate: Medium-fast. Once in full bloom, all the sunflower heads follow the sun, facing east. Harvesting occurs when the heads have completely turned brown and the seeds have a low moisture content, usually in late September and October.
Uses: Sunflowers have been cultivated for centuries. The seeds have been used as a food source by many cultures. Originally they were ground into a fine meal for use in baking, while the husks were boiled to create a hot drink. Sunflowers have also been used medicinally, providing treatments for the skin and hair.
Common Name: Gladioli
Propagation: By Corms from specialists, planted directly into the soil.
Planting: Plants the corms around 6” deep and about 6″ apart. Weeks to finish between 10 -15 weeks (depending on weather conditions) Temperature should be kept at the following – day: 55 – 86F (13-30°C), night: 50-70°F (10-21°C)
Origin: Also known as the ‘Sword Lily’ gladiolus includes around 260 species. Mostly native to South Africa, there are only around 10 species growing naturally in Europe.
Growth rate: moderate to fast dependant on variety
Difficulty level: Advanced
Uses: In its native Africa, the gladiolus was used as a treatment for colds and digestive problems. The corms (the bulb-like underground stem) of some gladiolus are edible once boiled in hot water.