When it comes to gardening with children, the sunflower can be a great tool used to educate kids about seeds and how plants grow. Sunflower seeds are big and easy for small fingers to handle, and they germinate quickly, holding the attention of young minds.
Sunflowers are a great learning tool for kids, as well as a good way to attract pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden.
Photo Credit: ©2005 Buglady Consulting
These pretty and well-recognized flowers also serve as a food source for many garden friends. When the blooms open, they’re loaded with pollen and nectar for friendly bees and other beneficial insects to snack on without harming the plant. In fact, these visitors are actually helping the flower by pollinating it. This is an excellent way to attract beneficials to your garden, as well as an opportunity to teach the kids another great lesson! Once sunflower petals wither, the head turns into seed that becomes a wonderful food source for birds, or you can cut the heads off and dry the seed for a healthy snack yourself.
Starting sunflowers from seed is very easy. You just need the seed, pots, soil, water and sunshine.
Begin by having your child help pick what kind of sunflowers you want to grow. Check the seed package – it’ll tell you what each variety is, as well as what it’s good for. There are so many varieties to pick from – petals can range from a light yellow to a deep maroon. Decide whether you want to use your sunflowers for snacking or bird food, and check how tall a variety can grow. Some can reach up to 12 feet tall, while others only reach 2 feet – a size that may be more suitable for small back yards.
Help your child fill the pot with a good seed-starting soil mix, then plant one or two seeds in the soil, 1-2 inches deep. (Depth requirements can vary by plant variety, so check the seed package for more information.) Moisten the soil and place the pot in a warm spot, like next to a window. Once the leaves start to pop above the soil surface, the little plant needs bright sunshine – make sure it gets it, or the plant will stretch and become leggy. Remind the kids to water when the soil starts to dry.
Once your sunflower is a few inches tall, it’s time to plant it outside in a sunny location that can accommodate the plant’s mature height. Then just sit back with the kids and watch your flower grow!
Sunflowers can be easy plants to grow in your garden, as well as a wonderful learning experience for children. The seed and supplies are inexpensive and easy to find. The kids love them, and the beneficial insects and birds drawn to your garden will thank you, too!