Sunflowers make wonderful additions in the garden and are a really great plant for kids to plant and grow with.
By Chris Cohan
Sunflowers make wonderful additions in the garden and are a really great plant for kids to plant and grow with. The seeds are large and easy to handle. They sprout quickly and everyone marvels at their almost daily growth.
You will have introduced your children to a lifelong love of nature and gardening and instilled a sense of obligation to something greater than themselves. There is no better gift a parent can give their children than the confidence and tools to make it on their own.
Take photographs of your children next to the sunflowers as they grow. Years from now those will be cherished photographs.
Buy seeds now; they can be directly sown in the garden when all danger of frost has passed or start indoors in egg cartons. They germinate quickly which is important for impatient children. Potted sunflowers are plentiful in garden centers, if you must. They can be replanted in the garden or planters.
There are many varieties from Kong to Sunny Smile. Kong will grow 12 to 14 feet and produce yellow flower heads on short side stems. Flower heads are not top heavy and guaranteed to make a lasting impression on children. Sunny Smile has large flowers while only growing 15 inches tall, and flowers in 55 days.
Some have red, yellow or orange petals. Consider planting a few varieties together. Tallest in back with smaller ones in front — some bloom earlier than others providing a long season of big flower fun. The tallest have heavy heads that may need to be supported.
Sunflowers love the sun. Give them a lot of it and allow the soil to dry slightly between watering. Sunflowers are not heavy feeders, so little fertilizer, if any, is required. They all make great cut flowers.
Birds will love you if you let the sunflower heads remain for their feeding pleasure. Next year, you will have new sunflowers sprouting from seed the birds missed. It is always marvelous to see new plants magically sprout from the ground. Kids love the unexpected new plants. They especially love knowing that they helped make it happen.