Let’s fill our garden with beauty and our children with wonder by growing sunflowers! Here’s a guide on how to get started growing sunflowers with children, plus extra resources for sunflower lesson plans and learning guides.
How to grow sunflowers with children
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Sunflowers are one of my favourite plants to grow with children. They’re beautiful, easy to grow, and their height and quick growth is fun for children to watch. Sunflowers are also a favourite of bees and so make an important addition to an eco-garden.
Sunflowers are annuals, which means they complete their whole life cycle, from germination to seed production, in the space of one year. This makes them an excellent choice to grow with children, as they get to experience the full cycle of life. Sunflowers grow quickly, so there’s always something new to see, and children can be directly involved in planting, potting on, tending, and harvesting their plants.
Which variety of sunflowers to grow with children
There are many different size and colour varieties you can choose from: from dwarf plants to giants, and from the classic yellow to choices with dark brown and purple markings.
It’s up to you which one you’d like to grow but I think every child should experience growing a giant! It’s so fun for children to see a tiny seed transform into a tall, tall plant that towers above their heads.
We always grow a variety called Russian Giant, or giant single, which you can readily find in garden centres or from online seed suppliers.
How to plant sunflower seeds
Start your seeds off in the early spring. They’re hardy plants which means they can be planted straight outdoors, but they are very tasty to slugs and snails, so I’d recommend starting them in pots and planting them out when their tender, juicy stems being to turn a little sturdier – a few weeks after planting.
Fill little plant pots with compost and plant two or three seeds in each pot. Cover with a little extra compost and water them.
Place them on a window sill, in a greenhouse, or outdoors and keep watering a little everyday or so. You should see the seedlings appear in about a week.
When your seedlings are around 10-15cm tall, and with a stem that’s beginning to look a little sturdier, you can re-plant them out doors.
Choose the strongest looking plant from each pot and plant it out in a sunny spot. You can plant them in pots or garden containers, but tall varieties especially can get quiet top-heavy and topple, so open soil is preferable. You can use a garden cane to give them extra support if you’re in a windy area or you’re plants are getting very tall.
Water them daily for the first few days to encourage them to grow their roots out in to the surrounding soil. Plants in pots will continue to need regular watering, plants in open soil will need watering if it doesn’t rain.
Sunflower lesson plans
Use this sunflower seed growing lesson plan to see your seed grow underground and learn about germination.
Make a sunflower height chart to track your sunflower’s progress.
Start a sunflower journal with this free printable and use it for writing and drawing all summer long.
Be sure to pop your email address in the box at the top to receive all the extra lesson plans and activities.
Bonus! sunflower stickers and plant labels
NurtureStore Supporters: have you got your extra resources? You can find printable stickers and plant labels in our Supporters membership section. These are fun for children to use, as they feel extra connected to the special seed they planted. They can wear their stickers as they head home, which gives them a great conversation starter to tell their families and friends all about the garden they are growing, and all the things they are learning along the way.
If you’re not already a NurtureStore Supporter, come and join in here!