Outdoor Hour Challenge #16 Growing Sunflowers

“Many of the most beautiful of the autumn flowers belong to the Compositae, a family of such complicated flower arrangement that it is very difficult for the child or the beginner in botany to comprehend it; and yet, when once understood, the composite scheme is very simple and beautiful, and is repeated over and over in flowers of very different appearance……The large garden sunflower is the teacher’s ally to illustrate to the children the story of the composites.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 574

Outdoor Hour Challenge #16  
Sunflowers-Summer Project

This week I am going to challenge you to start some sunflower seeds growing in your garden or in a pot. If you need some sunflower seeds to plant, take another outing to the garden nursery to let your child pick a packet of their own. The idea behind starting the seeds is to provide a “laboratory” for your child to observe and learn in all summer long. Even if you just plant the seeds in a pot and watch them grow on your front porch, this is a valuable activity. If you don’t have a sunny spot in your yard, ask a friend or relative if you could plant a few seeds somewhere in their yard. Be creative. Sunflowers take about 12 weeks to mature, depending on the variety you choose.

1. Read the Handbook of Nature Study pages 574-576-The Sunflower.

Find a sunny spot in your yard or on your porch to plant your sunflower seeds. These seeds will eventually sprout and grow and provide a late summer challenge all of its own. These sunflower plants can be subjects for your nature journal as well. After the seeds have matured, you will have something for the birds to enjoy. Follow the instructions on the seed packet and get your seeds growing this week. Make sure to keep your seeds moist as they germinate.

2. Take your 10-15 minute outdoor time to look for some garden flowers in your own area. If you already have some of your own garden flowers blooming, pick one to identify and see if it is listed in the Handbook of Nature Study.

3. Add any new garden flowers to your list in your nature journal.

4. Provide an opportunity for a nature journal entry. Practice your flower drawing skills that you worked on in challenge number 15. Record your flower seeds’ growth and/or record your sunflowers growth for the week. You may wish to sketch your sunflower seeds before you plant them, looking at them carefully with a magnifying glass.

5. Continue making field guide cards for your garden flowers.

6. Add flowers to your press from you nature time.

This challenge is part of my Garden Flowers ebook. This ebook has ten garden related challenges that will walk you through a study of garden flowers using the Handbook of Nature Study. In addition to the challenges already written, there will be more photos, nature journal examples, book lists, and totally new notebook pages designed to go with each of the Garden Flower Challenges.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy


  1. Hello! I have not been here is a while and am so excited with your Green Hour Challenge! We already started our Sunflowers and I will post photos later. I was actually doing a search on how to make a nature notebook which lead me to your blog. ( of course!) I am doing homemade paper ect this summer and posting on one of my blogs how tos ect. Anyway will come back later with photos of our sunflowers in homemade paper pots. We have problems here with the sunflowers being eaten by bugs before they reach 6 inches or so. We are putting “collars” around each plant and egg shells to deter any ground bugs. The paper pots will go directly into the ground. You can see our pots here: http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/solidrock/532766/ Love your photos! So close to home ( we use to live in Bishop California )

  2. I am glad that you are encouraging us late comers to do this. I will see about getting some seeds this weekend. We did however plant some aster and zennia seeds today. But I think a sunflower would be nice, too. Loved your post as usual. We are working on challenge #2.

  3. I hope you don’t mind that I joined even though we are planting pumpkins and not sunflowers. I figured the principle is the same… I am planning to have my boys start nature journals this week.

  4. In answer to your question…
    The seeds that I put right in the ground, were dug up by squirrels.
    A few survived and did good.
    I figured that I would start them in a cup, and keep them safe on the patio.

  5. Resolved: I’m gonna plant some sunflowers at school this week!

    I always enjoy your posts.

  6. We didn’t officially get this challenge done this week, so I’m not doing Mr Linky, but we did get some outdoor nature study time, so I’ll link to my post about that here in the comments section. :-)

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am newly joining you guys. I left a link to a post back in January when we planted sunflower seeds. The sunflowers are nice and tall now and in the front yard. We will be doing a mixture of catching up to the old challenges and joining you-all in the new ones.

  8. We still haven’t grown our own yet, but our neighbor has so pretty big sunflowers already, so we’ve been watching them. My husband posted a great photo of one on his blog ~ I’ll link this to it.

    Jamie in Rose Cottage

  9. We haven’t ever grown sunflowers before. My girls have been wowed by how fast they grow! We are excited to see what colors we end up with. We got several different kinds for a nice variety.

  10. Barb, I’m sorry i have 3 links to my blog, each one is a different page though, updating our sunflower’s progress. We are sad to be leaving them in Chicago to move back to the UK soon though, before they have flowered.

  11. Hello Barb! I have been meaning to post this challenge link for ages but couldn’t do it because the computer with the photos was cactus! I am so pleased I have finally been able to and may I say thank you!!?? So much for this particular challenge- I have a new love… sunflowers! Thanks for all your wonderful, inspiring work!

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