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 flowers that kids love to admire and enjoy. Grow them in a circle to make a sunflower house, a garden playhouse or fort, for even more outdoor fun!
Invite your children to help plant sunflowers seeds, grow and care for sunflowers for a fun outside activity to do with kids. Sunflowers are easy for children to learn how to plant directly into the ground, and they love to watch them grow!
Related: Planting Spring Flowers with Kids
Sunflower Growing Guide
Sunflowers are easy to grow. Use this easy sunflower growing guide to learn when, where, and how to plant sunflowers.
When do You Plant Sunflowers?
Sunflowers should be planted early in the spring so they have enough time to grow to full height during the summer.
It is, therefore, best to plant sunflowers when temperatures begin to 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… They thrive in loads of sunshine!
Pick as 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 and/or 4-tine cultivator and/or wheel hoe and/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.
A few sunflower varieties we like to grow can be found below.
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.
Teach your children how to plant sunflower seeds directly into the ground with this easy sunflower planting guide.
Related: Tools for Raising Helpers
Step 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 of some kind to prepare the soil for planting. There are many types to choose from. We cultivated a large section of our yard for the photo’s 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 in it, your sunflowers will do a lot better if you mix in some homemade compost or organic potting soil before planting. Sunflowers love moist nutrient-rich soil. Shovel it onto the earth and use a cultivator or garden rake to mix it in.
You also need to make sure that the ground is moist where you will be planting sunflower seeds. Sunflowers like moist and well-drained soil. Water the area first for best results.
Step 2 — Plant Sunflower Seeds
Below is a photo collage of my mother showing us exactly 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 dirt.
- Press down firmly.
- Give them plenty of room to grow.
- Water sunflower seeds.
Plant a Sunflower House or Fort
For even more fun, plant your sunflowers in a circle to make a fort. As they grow the sunflowers will create a room or space for children to hide away in. 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 that is 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.
Children love to lay inside the fort and stare up at the blooming sunflowers smiling down from above.
How to Grow a Sunflower House or Fort
- Mark off a circular area for your sunflower house that is 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 continue to 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 blanket 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 make sure the sunflowers have enough room find enough sunlight to grow and thrive.
Another way to create more privacy is to plant a climbing variety of flowers in between your sunflowers. If you would like to try this, plant a few Morning Glories or Black-Eyed Susans in between each sunflower plant. These will help fill in 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 in 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. Give sunflower babies lots of water, and keep the soil nice and moist, for 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 down.
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 about growing sunflowers from the Farmers Almanac.
Related: Easy Rainbow Art Projects Kids LOVE!
Growing Sunflowers with Kids
Growing sunflowers is a fun and easy gardening project to do with the kids. My mother, daughter, and I had a wonderful time getting outside to plant sunflowers together. We hope you do too!
You may also enjoy our spring bucket list filled with fun activities to do with children.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
If You Liked This Sunflower Planting Guide, You May Also Like
- How to Raise a Helper
- Calm Down Sensory Bottles 101
- 15 Reasons to Climb a Tree and Other Benefits of Risky Play
- Outdoor Activities for Kids
The One Essential Tool You Need To Keep You and the Kids Happy!
Subscribe to the Rhythms of Play community newsletter to connect with your children, and find the FREEDOM to do the things you LOVE!
Nell has over 20 years of experience working with children and is the founder of Rhythms of Play. She believes in the wonder of childhood, the power of the imagination, learning through play, and getting outside in all seasons! Learn more…