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Plant a sunflower house! A sunflower tower is great for the birds and also a fun activity for introducing kids to gardening. You’ll be blooming sprouts of sunshine in no time!
With their colorful centers ringed with a crown of petals, sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) may be the happiest flowers in the garden. They are guaranteed to brighten up even the gloomiest of days, whether planted in a long row along a fence or massed in a sunny border.
If you have space in the yard—and in particular, a spot that gets lots of sunshine—you can grow a sunflower tower that has a small inside room! You can eat the sunflowers kernels, too! They are actually really healthy.
Sunflowers are so easy to grow! Just plant sunflowers when the temperatures get warm—in the springtime or early summer!
It takes between 7 and 12 weeks for your sunflowers to grow up nice and tall.
All you need are sunflower seeds! Pick a packet or two of sunflower seeds that will grow at least 6 feet tall.
You also good spot that’s flat and full sun (6-8 hours of direct sun a day) with normal, moist soil that drains well.
Mark off where you want the sunflower tower to be: Your sunflower house can be any size or shape you want it to be: circular, square, rectangle, even triangular. But make sure it is at least 8 feet across. Use sticks or string to mark the perimeter which makes up the “walls” of the house.
With a shovel, make a trench along the marked perimeter. Clear the weeds and grass in a 6- to 12-inch wide area along this perimeter line to form a planting bed. Dig down about a foot to loosen the soil. Leave an un-dug portion on the perimeter; this will be a doorway. Make sure that it’s wide enough to walk through (about 2-feet wide). Clear any weeds, grass, and rocks from inside the perimeter. You can always place flattened cardboard inside the marked area, and then cover the cardboard with mulch or seedless straw.
Plant the sunflower seeds 6 inches apart and 1 inch deep. For thick “walls,” plant two rows of seeds. Leaving about 1 foot between rows, plant the second row of seeds between the seeds in the first row.
Water your seeds every day and keep the soil moist, especially when the seedlings are small and growing. The seeds should start to sprout in about a week, if the weather is warm. If you wish, fertilize the flower as they grow: you can use a blend of liquid kelp and fish emulsion.
Once the sunflowers have a few sets of leaves, gently place mulch around the plants to keep the weeds and grass from growing back and competing with your sunflowers.
Sunflowers usually reach their full height in about 10 weeks.
For a roof, plant morning glory seeds among the sunflower seeds! As the plants grow, the morning glories will climb the sunflower stalks. When the sunflowers start to bud, tie string or twine to the sunflower stems and across the top. The morning glories will follow the string, creating a roof on the tower.
Plant corn as a companion plant, interspersed with the sunflowers.
Plant a carpet of white clover inside the house to create a soft “carpet.”
Sometimes it’s fun to “decorate” the sunflower house. Add a stone doorstep or perhaps a couple small chairs for a fairy tea.
Once the seeds begin to ripen, you may want to harvest them to snack on yourself or for the birds.
Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprise that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann