Sunflower-sowing season will be upon us soon enough, so what better time to start planning growing sunflowers in a way that gives the kids a place to play!
Sunflower plants have cheerful blooms ? they look very much like faces surrounded by colorful petals! They come in many different sizes. Some sunflowers are as short as 2 ft (60 cm) tall while others can grow to be 15 ft (4.5 m). The tallest sunflower on record was 25 ft (7.62 m) tall! They also come in a wide range of colors including red, orange, yellow, and white. No matter the color, it’s hard not to smile when looking at sunflowers.
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are easy to grow. Just plant them when temperatures are warm during the late spring and early summer, in a spot with plenty of sun and water. Their seeds are edible for humans and wildlife. A favorite for feeding birds, people also eat the nutritious sunflower kernels and make oil from them, too.
What You Need For Your Own Sunflower House
Materials: Sunflower seeds (pick one or more taller varieties to grow)
Approximate Time to Complete: 7 to 12 weeks
Location: Choose a location with full sun (6-8 hours of direct sun a day) and well-drained soil
Ages: Fun for all ages
Season: Late spring to early fall
Sunflower Varieties to Use:
Very Tall Sunflowers (10 ft/3 m or taller!)
Tall Sunflowers (6 ft/180 cm)
Tall Sunflowers (5 ft/150 cm)
Instructions for your Sunflower House:
- Begin by picking out a good spot to grow sunflowers. Sunflowers grow best in full sun and prefer moist but well-drained soil. Your sunflower house can be any size or shape you want it to be, but a good start is to plant one covering an area that is 4 ft x 4 ft (1.2 m x 1.2 m).
- Next, create the house outline by sprinkling flour on the ground to mark the perimeter of the house where the sunflower “walls” will grow. Clear the weeds and grass in a 6-12” (15-30 cm) wide area along this perimeter line to form a planting bed.
- Now plant the seeds in this cleared area. Sow them about ¼ in to ½ in (6 to 12 mm) deep, spacing the seeds according to recommendations on the seed pack. The large plants that grow will form the “walls” of your house. You can plant seeds in a single row or in multiple rows to create thicker “walls.” Make sure to leave at least one unplanted opening big enough to serve as your doorway.
Helpful Hint: If you plant taller sunflowers in the inner circle, you could plant shorter, bushier sunflowers in the outer circle to have a two-tier sunflower wall for even more color and more flowers!
- Water your seeds and keep the soil moist, especially while the baby plants are young. Once your plants are older, they will grow deep roots and be able to handle drier conditions.
- When the plants have a few sets of leaves, gently place mulch around them to help keep the weeds and grass from growing back and competing with your sunflower.
- Depending on the variety of sunflower you planted, plants will begin to produce flowers in 7 to 12 weeks.
- Time to play! Let your kids decorate and furnish the house by adding a stone doorstop or maybe chairs and a table for visiting with friends. Let them explore and play in the house during outdoor time.
- Once the seeds begin to ripen, you may want to harvest them to snack on yourself or for the birds.
This article was offered by the National Garden Bureau, a non-profit organization promoting the joys of home gardening, as an educational / inspirational service. Photos, unless otherwise mentioned, are also from the NGB. The article was prepared by NGB Member Kidsgardening.org.