What are you up to between now and May 1st? If you’ve got some sunflower seeds and a few minutes to spare, guerrilla gardeners hope you’ll celebrate International Guerrilla Garden Day.
The movement began in Brussels in 2007 and has been celebrated by thousands worldwide since.
The idea is to find neglected, abandoned, ugly spaces in your city and plant sunflowers, which are easy and fast-growing. From yellow and orange varieties to pale white or deep red, any sunflower will do the trick.
For those living in colder climates where sunflowers may not have the time to thrive, you can sow seeds of native plants instead.
What’s Guerrilla Gardening?
Guerrilla gardeners plant in spaces that don’t belong to them. They strive to beautify neglected or abandoned properties by adding flowers, shrubs, or even fruits and vegetables.
Traditional guerrilla gardeners often strike in public spaces at night and plant along sidewalks, tree pits, ditches, or other places that scream for greenery and pops of color. A good guerrilla gardener never plants a species that isn’t native to the area. Anything that goes into the earth should be eco-friendly, drought-tolerant, and do well with minimal human intervention.
The act of guerrilla gardening is often done without permission, which means it’s not technically legal. Not everyone will appreciate a seed bomb being thrown into their yards or having someone dig on their land behind their backs. If this all seems a little too naughty, you can still be a guerrilla gardener and do it legally. All you have to do is ask.
A Different Approach
That’s right; you don’t have to cover your face and plant secretly at night! Simply talking with friends and neighbors about this event might spark some neat ideas for the public spaces in your area. You never know; there could be more than a few landowners and city representatives who will welcome the initiative! Opening the lines of communication is never a bad thing.
And if guerrilla gardening isn’t your thing, you can still participate in the May 1st event by planting sunflowers in your yard or balcony. Maybe you’ll want to walk on the wild side and do it at night.
Favorite Sunflower Varieties
There are nearly 70 different species of sunflowers! The big ones can grow up to 15 feet tall and need support. Some tiny varieties exist, too, perfect for patio gardens because all they need is a pretty pot.
- Little Becka
- American Giant
- Russian Mammoth
- Velvet Queen
- Little Tiger
- Moulin Rouge
How To Plant Sunflowers
Plant sunflower seeds directly into the garden after the risk of frost has passed. Sunflowers don’t love to be transplanted, so plant the seeds where you’d like them to grow, whether in the ground for large varieties or a pot for dwarf types.
Always follow the label on the seed packet, but generally, plant the seeds about 1” deep with some rich compost. Most seeds will germinate in 12-14 days. In the meantime, if birds seem to be scratching at the soil looking for the seeds, place some netting over them for protection.
Remember, plant responsibly!