Growing sunflowers and learning how to plant sunflower seeds outdoors is an easy beginning gardening project for kids and adults of all ages.
Sunflowers are one of the easiest flowers to plant from seed directly into the earth. They quickly grow into large magical sunny faced flowers that kids love to admire and enjoy. Grow them in a circle to make a sunflower house, a garden playhouse, or a fort for even more outdoor fun!
Invite your children to help plant sunflowers seeds and grow and care for sunflowers for fun outside activities to do with kids. Sunflowers are easy for children to learn to plant directly into the ground, and they love to watch them grow! You might also enjoy planting flowers with kids and this massive list of outdoor learning activities for kids.
Sunflower Growing Guide
Sunflowers are easy to grow. Use this easy sunflower growing guide to learn when, where, and how to plant sunflowers. Children also enjoy making sunflower tiaras and crowns.
When Do You Plant Sunflowers?
Sunflowers should be planted early in the spring to have enough time to grow to full height during the summer. It is, therefore, best to plant sunflowers when temperatures warm during the late spring and early summer months. Sunflowers grow best when you plant them directly into the ground after your last expected frost.
Where is the Best Place to Plant Sunflowers?
The best place to plant sunflowers is outside in the FULL sun. Sunflowers love to grow in a sunny spot with lots of direct light because they thrive in loads of sunshine.
First, pick a spot with plenty of sun and water, and plant your sunflower seeds directly into the ground. Use the step-by-step sunflower seed planting guide in the section below to learn how to plant sunflowers.
Sunflower Growing Supplies
- Organic gardening soil
- Cultivating tool(s) – hand tiller or 4-tine cultivator or wheel hoe, or electric cultivator
Sunflower Seed Varieties
Sunflowers come in many different varieties and sizes. Some sunflowers are as short as two feet tall, while others can grow to a towering 18 feet! Sunflower plants also come in a wide range of colors, including yellow, orange, red, orange, and white.
Here are a few sunflower varieties we like to grow:
Related: How to Make a Fairy Garden
How to Plant Sunflower Seeds: Step-by-Step Directions
Growing sunflowers is an easy beginning gardening project for kids. There are many lessons to be learned in the garden. The easy sunflower planting guide below can help you teach children how to plant sunflower seeds directly into the ground at home, in the yard or garden, or in a school garden.
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1. Prepare to plant sunflowers.
- First, look for a sunny spot in your yard or garden. Sunflowers LOVE lots of direct sunlight.
- Next, use a cultivator to prepare the soil for planting. There are many types to choose from. We cultivated a large portion of our yard for the photos below with an old-fashioned wheel hoe. A wheel hoe is a human-operated cultivator that does not require electricity.
- If your soil has a lot of clay or sand, your sunflowers will do much better if you mix in some homemade compost or organic potting soil before planting because sunflowers love to grow in moist nutrient-rich soil. So start by shoveling nutrient-rich soil onto the earth and mixing it with a soil cultivator or garden rake.
- You must also ensure the ground is moist when planting sunflower seeds. Sunflowers like moist and well-drained soil. So water the area first for best results.
2. Plant sunflower seeds.
Below is a photo collage of my mother showing how to plant a sunflower seed directly into the ground with her experienced gardening hands.
How to Plant Sunflowers:
- Place the sunflower seed in the ground.
- Gently push the sunflower seed into the soil.
- Cover the sunflower seed with soil.
- Press down firmly.
- Give them plenty of room to grow. (8 to 12 inches apart)
- Water sunflower seeds after planting.
Plant a Sunflower House or Fort
Or plant your sunflowers in a circle to make a fort. The sunflowers will create a room or space for children to hide away in as they grow. Kids love to play in sunflower forts!
The sunflower fort in the photo below is HUGE! It’s about 20 feet in diameter. A sunflower fort grown to be 6 to 8 feet in diameter is a much better size for kids to play in.
When the circumference of the circle is a bit smaller, the sunflower heads will start to lean into the center to create a sunflower head ceiling as they grow taller and taller. And children love to lay inside the fort and stare at the blooming sunflowers smiling from above.
How to Grow a Sunflower House or Fort
- Mark off a circular area for your sunflower house about 6 to 8 feet in diameter. Leave a section of the circle open to create a “doorway” for your “sunflower house.”
- Cultivate the perimeter of the sunflower fort to prepare the soil to plant sunflower seeds. Add organic potting soil, if needed, and water soil along the perimeter of the sunflower fort before planting sunflower seeds. (Step 1 in the section above)
- Plant giant 10-15’ sunflower varieties like Mammoth Grey Stripe Sunflower Seeds in the prepared soil, and space your sunflower seeds approximately 8-12” apart. Don’t forget to leave a section of the circle unplanted to create a “doorway” for your sunflower house.
- Water sunflower seeds in, and continue to water sunflowers as they grow.
- As the sunflowers grow, they become the “walls” of the sunflower house, while the sunflower heads can be turned in toward the center to create a “ceiling.”
- Invite children to decorate their sunflower house if desired. Add some pillows, chairs, or blankets to make it a comfy place to hang out and play in the garden.
More Sunflower Fort Ideas
Planting the sunflower seeds closer together can create more privacy for your sunflower fort, but you also need to ensure the sunflowers have room to find enough sunlight to grow and thrive.
Another way to create more privacy is to plant a climbing variety of flowers between your sunflowers. If you want to try this, plant a few Morning Glories or Black-Eyed Susans between each sunflower plant. These will help fill the sunflower house “wall” as the flower vines climb within and amongst the growing sunflowers.
As the climbing flower begins to grow, help it find the sunflower stalks and help guide it to wrap around and in between the sunflower plants for support. As the sunflower house continues to grow, the climbing flowers will slowly fill in the spaces between each sunflower plant.
Check out THIS sunflower house by Let’s Lasso the Moon for more sunflower fort tips and ideas!
How to Care for Sunflowers
Sunflowers grow best when they are allowed to establish deep roots. So give sunflower babies lots of water and keep the soil nice and moist for the best results. Once the roots are firmly established, they can tolerate dryer conditions.
If you are growing a tall variety, you may need to stake them once they reach a certain height so they don’t fall.
Sunflower seeds are edible for both humans and wildlife. When they are ready for harvest, sunflower seeds become dry and brown, and the petals of the sunflower will fall off.
For more information about how to plant, grow, care for, and harvest sunflowers, check out THIS informative article from the Farmers Almanac.
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Growing Sunflowers with Kids
Growing sunflowers is a fun and easy gardening project to do with kids. My mother, daughter, and I had a wonderful time getting outside to plant sunflowers together. And we hope you do too!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
More Gardening Projects and Ideas for Kids
- How to Start a Fairy Garden
- How to Plant Spring Flowers
- Composting with Kids
- Sea Glass Wind Chimes Craft
More Fun with Flowers
- Flower Crown Printable
- Fingerprint Flower Magnet Craft
- Fun Flower Art Projects and Painting Ideas for Kids
- How to Make Felt Flower Lei Necklaces
- Fingerprint Flower Necklaces and Keychain Charms
- Rose Painting Idea
- Felt Flowers on Twig Stems DIY