By Sam Burbach, Education & Programming Coordinator – 06/16/2020
As a kid, I remember having a large spruce tree in our front yard that had a little opening in the branches on one side where my brother, neighbors and I could fit in and play. There was something about being able to play “inside” of the tree that was so much fun as kids. This version of a tree house was only possible due to the maturity of the tree and the removal of some lower limbs that were dead, but it is possible to create a natural plant “house” in your yard to play in that matures in one season – a sunflower house!
Sunflowers are known for their bright flowers, tasty seeds, and towering heights – many varieties easily reaching 8-12 feet tall which makes them the perfect height for a house! If you have a sunny spot in your backyard or garden you can easily create a sunflower house for kids to play in.
Here’s how you can try it at home!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Sunflower seeds – choose varieties with the desired height for your house, anywhere from 6-12 feet tall. You can add some shorter varieties of sunflowers for smaller children to be able to see the flowers up close as well.
- Sunny location in yard/garden
- Mulch (optional but helpful)
- Optional addition: morning glory seeds and twine
How to Plant a Sunflower House:
- Find a location that is flat and receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. This area can be in the lawn, but you must be willing to dig up some of the turf for this project. Planting your house in the lawn is nice though because you already have a nice carpet for the interior of the house!
- Choose what size and shape you’d like your sunflower house to be – circle, square, triangle, the list goes on! Mark out the outline with spray paint or even flour, making sure to leave an opening as the doorway.
- If there is turf, dig out a trench about 6-12 inches wide and loosen the soil several inches deep to prepare for sowing. If there is no turf, simply remove all weeds and loosen the soil.
- Sow the seeds according to package directions in the area you cleared. You can plant a single row or double rows if you want thicker walls.
- Water the area and be sure to keep the soil moist as the seeds are germinating and while the seedlings are young. As the plants mature their roots will reach deeper into the ground to access water below the surface.
- Once the seedlings are several inches tall, add mulch around the base of the plants to help retain moisture.
- As the sunflowers grow, they will form walls for the sunflower house. Flowers are generally formed in 7-12 weeks.
- Enjoy playing in the sunflower house! Kids can have a picnic, watch the birds, or just lay down and look up at the sky and flowers towering above! The possibilities are endless!
- Create a colorful roof with morning glories! Interplant morning glory seeds between the sunflower seeds to climb up the sunflower stems as the two plants grow. Once the sunflowers reach a height where you’d like the roof, gently tie some twine around the stem and string it loosely back and forth across the sunflower house. Train the morning glory vines along the twine to create a roof over the house!
- TIP: Soak the morning glory seeds in water overnight before planting to aid in germination.
- If the interior of your sunflower house is not turf, consider planting a groundcover to act as a carpet, such as white clover. Or lay mulch, straw or gravel as your interior floor if the ground is bare soil.
Don’t have a place for a sunflower house at home? Be sure to visit our sunflower house in the Nancy Olson Children’s Garden as the summer progresses!
Photo and Additional Information:
For a downloadable version of the full instructions, click here.