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How to Grow Sunflowers in A Pot (Smart Guide)

Bright and cheerful, sunflowers are a welcome addition to any lawn. But, what makes these flowers so special is how easy they are to grow. 

That’s why you’ll often see them on the sides of the road, in fields, or even among wild weeds. Once it takes root, the flower will thrive, even in extreme conditions like when it’s low on water. So, how do you grow sunflowers in a pot or grow bag?

The trickiest part of growing sunflowers is when you’re taking care of the seedling. In its early days, you’ll need to offer a lot of gentle care to your plant. But once it starts growing, the day-to-day tasks become extremely simple. 

How to Grow Sunflowers in A Pot
Growing sunflowers in a pot is extremely easy

What Season Do Sunflowers Grow?

The best time and place to grow sunflowers is whenever and wherever you get the most sunlight. While hot summer months are preferable, springtime in a sunny area works equally well. 

In fact, the best time for you to buy and plant your seeds is between March and May. That way, you give your seeds plenty of time to germinate in the warm spring months. 

Then the seedlings have all of the summer to grow strong before temperatures drop in the fall. Peak flowering season is in the middle of summer. 

After that, it’ll get colder; depending on where you live, you may even get snow. Your pots will need ample protection in the winter, so you’ll need to think of ways to protect them. An indoor windowsill is a solid solution. With more space, you could build a greenhouse or set up a cold frame. 

But this is just a recommendation and not a rule. Even if you miss your spring window, you can still plant your sunflower seeds in the early summer months. It might take longer for your flowers to bloom, and they may require slightly more care when they do, but you’ll reach the same result. 

Park Seed sunflowers banner

Do Sunflowers Grow Well in Pots?

With larger plants and certain types of flowers, you need to plant them directly in the ground to see results. 

Luckily, sunflowers are not one of them, especially the smaller varieties. Depending on the type of seeds you get, you may need a larger or smaller pot. 

It is usually a good idea to check the height information on the packet and use that to estimate the size requirements for your pot. Even if you start off with a smaller container you always have the option to re-pot your flowers once they grow big enough. 

How tall do sunflowers grow? There is no singular answer. Sunflowers come in multiple categories and can grow anywhere from 2 to 7 feet tall, depending on your seeds.

Hence, it is important to decide where you are going to place your plants and how big you want them to get before you start the process. 

How to Grow Sunflowers in A Pot?

Choose Your Seeds

When you’re picking your seeds, whether from a nursery or store, you’ll have a few options. 

Dwarf varieties are better for planting in pots and grow up to 4 feet tall. You can easily grow them in a pot and put them on your window sill or your balcony. Even people who live in apartments can enjoy some bright sunflowers. 

'Orange Hobbit' dwarf sunflower
‘Orange Hobbit’ dwarf sunflower. Don McCulley, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To summarize, you will need to pick the type, color, height, and texture of your flowers. To make this decision, you should consider your placement, area allocation, color scheme, plantation style, and maintenance costs. 

Sunflowers fall under two main categories:

  • Single stem means one seed will give you one flower. They are also pollen-less. So if you want blooming flowers year-round, you’ll need to keep replanting them every month or so.  
  • Branching varieties will keep dropping pollen and resprouting, so you won’t need to keep getting seeds. They also come in multiple color options like burgundy and chocolate.

Other varieties that grow up to 10 feet tall require a lot more space, not to mention large pots that are eventually replanted into garden soil. The best way to ensure your flowers will grow is to plant the seeds immediately after extracting them from the flower. 

While you can store them in a fridge for short periods, the longer you leave them the fewer will sprout. 

Find Your Containers

Picking the right container is not a solely aesthetic decision. You need to find a pot that is big enough to support the height of your plant and the number of flowers you want. 

With dwarf sunflowers that grow up to 2 feet, look for a pot that is more than 12 inches in diameter. For larger sunflowers that reach heights of up to 4 feet, you’ll need a pot that can hold up to 5 gallons of compost.

While it’s easy to get tempted by the huge plants with their large flowers, you have to keep the end goal in mind. 

Where are you going to place them? How much compost will you need based on the soil? And most importantly, how many gallons of water a week will your plant require? All of these are questions you need to address before you pick out a container.

Whether you buy a new pot or repurpose an old container, make sure it is clean and has drainage holes. Keep a plate underneath to catch the run-off water.  

Add Your Compost

The quality of your compost mix will greatly impact how well your sunflowers grow. 

You want a nutrient-rich top layer with a pH range from 5.5 to 7.5. When you’re choosing your compost, make sure the organic content is higher than 3 to 5 percent. 

The goal with high-quality soil is always for the water to drain through the pot naturally. You never want it to clog up around the roots and stop aeration. Materials like sand, perlite, vermiculite, and coconut fiber can sometimes help with this, but your first priority should always be to use good quality potting soil.

Carefully placing a layer of terracotta pieces or gravel in the pot before adding the soil can help improve drainage. It is also important to note that sunflowers grown in pots lose water quicker than those in gardens. 

So make sure your plant is suitably watered. An inch of water each week should be enough but touching the soil to test its dampness is the best way to get an accurate read on the soil’s conditions. 

Plant Your Seeds

When you’re sowing your seeds, you need to consider how deep to push them in and how far apart to place them. 

The ideal depth is around ½ to 1 inch, and you should place them 4 to 6 inches apart. That radius should be maintained with the edges of the pot as well. 

Keep the compost damp when you plant your seeds, and add a thin layer on top afterward. At this stage, your seedlings will need upwards of 2 gallons of water each week. Without enough water, your flowers will grow weak stems and drooping heads. They will germinate in a little over a week, and then you can move them to a bigger pot.

Make sure the new pot is 12 to 20 inches deep, so the flowers have enough space to grow their roots. 

Each seedling will need its own 8-inch diameter. So you can keep 3 flowers in a 15-inch pot. All you need to do is make sure your sunflowers are getting enough water and have enough room to grow. Use netting to keep your seedlings safe from birds and insects.

Fertilize Your Flowers

Sunflowers are hardy plants and will survive in most conditions. So you do not need to add fertilizer. 

However, using the right one at the right time will improve the color and size of your flowers when they bloom. Start by adding a liquid high-nitrogen variety while your seedlings are growing. Later, when the buds are blooming, shift to a phosphorus-based alternative, and you will see large, bright, and bold flowers.

That said, you’ll want to be careful not to over-fertilize your plants because that can ruin your plant. A common sign of this is weak stems that can’t hold up the weight of the flower. If you’re unsure how much fertilizer to add, try diluting it with water and slowly increasing the dosage. 

Are Sunflowers Easy to Grow?

Once your sunflowers take off, it is up to you to care for them properly. That includes making sure your pot is in direct sunlight upwards of 6 hours a day. Continued exposure means thick and strong stems with large and bright blooms. 

The longer your flowers can soak in the sun, the better it is for their health.

On the other hand, if you keep your sunflowers in the shade, they will go out of their way to follow the sun’s path. Depending on the direction in which they bend, the stem may begin to weaken over time. 

You’ll also need to water your sunflowers multiple times during the week. The ideal quantity is 2 gallons per week, which is slightly more than other flower types. 

While you can always spritz your pots by hand, it’s always better to keep them outside so rainwater can keep them hydrated. Depending on how harsh your summers are, you’ll want to make sure your sunflowers are getting enough water to keep the soil from drying out. 

Often you’ll see sunflowers drooping in one direction, especially when they grow wild in parks or fields. It happens when the weight of the bud pushes down on the stem. 

For your plant, you may want to consider staking your flower. Use a pipe or object to support the stem when your flowers grow up to 3 feet tall. This will keep them standing vertical and allow the stem to strengthen in place. 

What should you not do? Tie your flower to the pot. Do that, and your pot will eventually tip over from the weight of it all. 

FURTHER READING



Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Sunflowers

How long does it take for sunflower seeds to germinate?

Sunflower seeds will germinate in 7-10 days.

How do I make sunflower seeds germinate faster?

Sunflower seeds will germinate faster if you pre-soak them in water for 12-24 hours before planting. You can also plant them slightly deeper than recommended, and then water them regularly. Make sure the soil is well-drained, and don’t let the pots sit in wet soil for extended periods of time.

How long should i soak sunflower seeds before planting?

You should pre-soak sunflower seeds for 12-24 hours before planting.

Do sunflowers need to be pollinated?

Yes, sunflowers need to be pollinated in order to produce seeds. Insects such as bees will do the job, or you can also use a small paint brush to transfer pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers.

When do sunflowers start blooming?

Sunflowers will start blooming when they reach a height of about 2-3 feet. The flowers will last for about a week.

What do I do with the sunflower heads when they start to die?

Once the sunflower heads start to die, you can cut them off the plant and hang them upside down to dry. Once they are dry, you can remove the seeds and store them in a jar or envelope.

Final Thoughts on Growing Sunflower Seeds in a Pot

Start your gardening journey with the right seeds and pots. With a little care, your bright sunflowers will be blooming in no time. The process is simple if you follow a few basic steps.

  1. Buy a pot of a suitable size.
  2. Choose your flower type and seeds.
  3. Use a trowel to plant the seeds 4 inches apart.
  4. Place the pots in direct sunlight and water them regularly.
  5. Watch your sunflowers bloom.

References

Grow a Sunflower in a Pot

How to Plant and Maintain Sunflowers

How to Grow Sunflowers in Planters

Growing Sunflowers in Pots

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