Hertfordshire Dad Grows 20ft Sunflower After Four-Year-Old Son Asks For One ‘As Tall As The House’

by : Emily Brown on : 30 Jul 2020 18:56

Sometimes kids ask their parents for things that just aren’t realistic, but when one four-year-old asked for a sunflower ‘as tall as the house’, his dad did not let him down. 

Little Stellan Smith, from Stanstead Abbotts, Hertfordshire, asked his dad Douglas to grow the gigantic flower earlier this year, so the 42-year-old set his mission in motion at the end of March by planting a seed in his garden.


The dad tended to the plant throughout lockdown, lovingly nurturing it as it crept higher and higher until it reached a whopping height of 20ft from the roots to the base of the petals, or just over 21ft when measured over the curve from where the flower has drooped downwards under its own weight.

Dad standing on ladder at top of house to reach huge sunflowerSWNS

Unfortunately Douglas can’t scale the flower like Jack with his beanstalk, so the father is forced to use a ladder propped up against his home to tend to the plant, which extends past the second-floor windows of his home.

Douglas is no stranger to growing large plants, and has previously nurtured an enormous pumpkin and a tomato that weighed almost three kilos. Though his green fingers definitely have a part to play in the sunflower’s success, he was also helped out by the fact his seed had good genetics.

Four-year-old stood next to sunflowerSWNS

He obtained it in a swap with John Butler, who holds the current record for tallest sunflower in North America at 26ft 8in, and explained it ‘came from a good start in life’.

Douglas said:

I’m not sure specifically what variety of sunflower this is, but it’s a bit like a thoroughbred horse… But the flower will also reward any TLC you are able to give it. I go out to feed and water it a couple of times a day.

I’m up the ladder at 7.30am most mornings – which certainly wakes me up.

Dad on ladder by sunflowerSWNS

The current record for the tallest sunflower in Britain is held by Richard Hope of Wigan, who set the record in 2012 with a whopping 26ft tall flower. However, Douglas’s sunflower is now worthy of the ‘honourable mentions’ list on the website Giant Gardening, which is surely a win for any avid gardener.

The giant plant stands in a large wooden container 20in tall, 3ft in length and 2ft in depth, and is rigged to a flagpole-like structure so it doesn’t bend under its own weight.

Douglas commented:


I had high hopes that it would still be growing – but I am glad that it’s topped out a bit now. I think it’s probably got maybe another inch or two left in it to grow, but it’s pretty much done.

It’s flowering at the moment – there’s probably another week or so of flowering left, and then I’m hoping to leave it standing for as long as I can, to collect most of the seeds.


Four-year-old Stellan is understandably delighted by the fact his request was granted, though Douglas admitted that the flower’s size is tough to comprehend, saying: ‘I don’t think people at his nursery believe him when he tells them he actually has one.’

After seeing the massive sunflower, Stellan will no doubt have high hopes about his dad’s future wish-granting abilities. Good luck, Douglas!


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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Now