Plant a sunflower house! Having your sunflower tower is great for the birds and also just a fun activity to introduce 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 seeds, too!
Sunflower Tower Supplies
You will need a packet or two of sunflower seeds that will grow at least 6 feet tall and a packet of morning glory seeds.
Just plant sunflowers when the temperatures get warm—in the springtime!
- Mark off where you want the sunflower tower to be: a place with full sun, good soil, and flat ground. Make the tower circular, square, rectangular, even triangular, but be sure that it is at least 8 feet across. Use sticks or string to mark the “walls” of the house.
- With a shovel, make a trench along the marked area, digging 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 the seeds every day. They 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 plants have a few sets of leaves, gently place mulch around them to help 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. See our Sunflower page for tips on harvesting sunflower seeds.