How to Grow Sunflowers in Containers | Gardener’s Path

If sunflowers have always been out of reach for you, how about growing them in containers ?

You might have thought that only those with big garden plots would be able to plant their own plants.

There are many varieties of this flower that will grow well in pots or planters.

It is possible to grow mid-size sunflowers with this method, even though dwarf varieties are the natural selection for pots.

The ones that produce blooms six or more inches in diameter and grow four to six feet tall are the ones I am talking about.

To get them to bloom on your patio, deck, or sidewalk, you will need to be extra dedicated to the process.

A close up vertical image of sunflowers growing in containers on a patio. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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I will show you how to grow sunflowers in a container and how to care for them throughout the growing season.

I want you to see this as a separate opportunity from planting the towering varieties in a garden plot or field because you ca n’t have the “ real ” thing.

This is a wonderful way to grow a splashy, pollinator-friendly, inexpensive plant, not a meager substitute for long rows of tall stems with giant seed heads.

As cheery, compact day-brighteners with vibrant, sunny blooms, container-grown sunflowers are valuable.

There are many advantages to this growing technique, from having a short growing season to being able to tend and protect your seedlings.

You can either move the containers around to tap into available sunlight or avoid too-cool weather, or you can move the whole kit and kaboodle when you move to a new household.

Want to learn more ?

I will cover it here.

The best container seeds.

I am the last person to want to discourage a gardener when it comes to planting flowers.

I will tell you that it is possible to plant mammoth sunflowers in containers.

A close up horizontal image of a bright yellow sunflower growing in the garden pictured on a soft focus background.

Please note that these are in gardens. A 10 foot tall annuus can send taproots down six or more feet deep.

It would take a 10-gallon pot, constant watering, a hefty support, and maybe a fence or table to grow them.

I will not try to discourage you if you want to do that.

A pot is a good option for a mid-size variety like ‘Taiyo, ‘ which is about five to seven feet tall, if you still want to grow one that is tall.

You could grow one in a five-gallon pot with a tomato cage in place for support.

A close up vertical image of sunflowers growing in small pots at a garden nursery pictured on a soft focus background.

As we talk about dwarf varieties, I will increase the encouragement.

The low-growing sunflowers are ideal for containers.

You can grow one plant in a six-inch pot or three in a gallon-size container.

The dwarf varieties will not get as large when planted in pots.

In a planter it will grow to 10 to 15 inches tall, while in the garden it will reach 12 to 24 inches tall.

If you do n’t already have something in mind, ‘Sungold Dwarf ‘ is a good choice.

A close up square image of 'Sungold' sunflowers growing in the garden pictured in bright sunshine. To the bottom right of the frame is a white circular logo with text.

There is a dwarf named ‘Sungold Dwarf ‘.

It is available in various-sized packets from True Leaf Market and can be found in a container of 24 to 36 inches.

When choosing the best variety to grow, there are other considerations.

Only one flower per pot is provided by any single-stem varieties. If you want to have a source for floral arrangements when you grow, you may want to use a branching type.

Several dwarf types produce multiple blooms on each stalks, like ‘Teddy Bear, ‘ which is available from Botanical Interests in one-gram seed packets.

A close up vertical image of a packet of dwarf 'Teddy Bear' sunflower seeds with text to the left of the frame and a hand-drawn illustration to the right.

There is a Teddy Bear.

I would n’t grow the perennial types of sunflowers in containers. They have a beauty all of their own, and usually bloom for a long time, but they also tend to spread.

As the clumps grow bigger, it ‘s a problem for maintaining air circulation and an adequate water supply.

If you want to grow swamp sunflowers, you need a pot with a capacity of at least 25 gallons, which can become quite heavy and cumbersome.

It is easy to let the pots get too dry in the late fall or early spring.

To me, keeping up with the perennial in pots is a lot of extra work for a plant that grows so much more easily in a native planting, and that has shorter stems so it is n’t an obvious choice as a cut flower.

There are container considerations.

A lightweight planter that is at least six to eight inches deep and 10 inches wide and has drainage holes in the bottom is an ideal container.

A horizontal image of a shop window with soft toys and flowers in pots.

It should be made of a material that will keep the soil moist.

Black plastic can increase the soil heat to the point where the plants can no longer grow. Green is better.

You might want to use fabric grow bags. They are lightweight and retain water.

The five-gallon cloth aeration containers from Garden4Ever are available via Amazon.

There are grow bags.

You can easily poke or drill drainage holes in containers with all the right dimensions.

Plastic buckets, metal pails, or large plastic food containers are available.

Some pots wo n’t work for this project on the other side of the scale. This category includes the ones that are both deep and heavy, like 25-gallon ceramic pots, since they are hard to move once they are filled with soil.

If you want to plant in a container that ca n’t be shifted, I would recommend a shallow raised bed. Less soil and less water will give you more surface space for your flowers.

It is a good idea to avoid terra cotta that has n’t been glazed. Unglazed ceramic planters dry out very fast.

The plants will only grow and bloom where they receive direct sun outdoors, or significant sunlight or grow light exposure indoors, and that warmth dries the soil quickly.

If you already own a pot or bowl that has sentimental value, you can make work of container types that are n’t ideal.

If you want to plant a flower in a teapot that does n’t have drainage holes, consider placing a more suitable container inside.

You can use a larger undrained decorative cachepot if you plant in a pot with good drainage.

If you are willing to water more often, you can use unglazed clay pots or invest in a plant caddy so you can transport it easily.

Before purchasing a plant caddy, be sure to calculate the weight of the planter when it is full of soil, water, and sunflowers.

There is a plant Caddy.

A dolly that can sustain 440 pounds is available on Amazon.

How to plant.

Most vegetables are best grown in soil with a pH range between 6 and 8. 0 and 7. They will cope if the pH is as low as 5.

A close up horizontal image of rows of sunflowers growing in pots.

The choice of soil is important. To see the sunflowers through most of the season, you want it to be light and well-draining, but also have enough nutrition.

I like to use a premixed growing medium labeled for vegetable gardening, and mix in a couple of handfuls of well-aged compost, either store-bought or from my own pile.

The soil will drain on its own if you use this type of mix. Sand or pebbles should not be added as a bottom layer in the pot.

That used to be a common method of container gardening, but now we know that the drainage material can make it difficult for the soil to drain properly.

Some types of root rot can be caused by poor drainage from pebbles in the bottom of a planter.

Before sowing, fill the pot up to two-thirds of its height, re-moisten the growing medium and compost mix, and let any excess water drain out of the holes.

Carefully place the seeds four inches apart for dwarf varieties or one seed per 12-inch diameter five-gallon pot for mid-size single-stem types.

If you like, you can plant two seeds in each space and then thin them to the strongest seedling when they reach three or four inches tall.

Following the instructions on your seed packet, cover the seeds with half an inch to an inch of the same growing medium. Water the seeds in the soil with your clean or gloved fingers.

They will grow within a couple of weeks, and you should keep the soil moist. The seeds will rot if they receive too much water.

A close up horizontal image of a bouquet of bright sunflowers.

If you are starting seeds indoors, move the tray or pots to a sunny windowsill as soon as they start to grow.

If you want the seeds to grow straight, you may need to change the container indoors.

If you want to discourage birds and squirrels from snacking on the seeds, you may want to place a row cover over them.

Make sure to check if the plants are getting enough sun, and adjust their location if they are n’t.

If you want to grow them indoors all the time, make sure to move them somewhere that they will get enough sunlight.

This is the more difficult part when trying to grow sunflowers indoors. They need a lot of light, but if you place them on a windowsill with direct sunlight, it will dry them out quickly.

The windows can allow for exposure to drafts or cooler temperatures. Annuus is in a state of disrepair.

If you want to increase the odds of success, choose dwarf varieties that do n’t need as much water to grow.

Invest in a grow light so they do n’t have to be so close to drafty windows, and grow them in small pots to take advantage of bright, warm days.

If you are trying to complete the season inside, it is a good idea to grow a pollenless variety.

Even though it was all H. Most annuus varieties do better with insect pollination during times of stress.

How to grow.

It is a lot of fun to watch these plants grow on your porch, patio, or balcony ledge.

A close up vertical image of sunflowers growing in a green ceramic pot on a wooden windowsill in light sunshine.

You need to encourage them.


When planting a variety that will reach a height over four feet tall, it will need support early on.

The four-foot natural bamboo stakes are sold in 25-stake packs on Amazon.

There are bamboo plant stakes.

If you want to grow taller sunflowers in pots, place the containers along a fence and tie the stems with a loop of twine.

This option eliminates the option to move the pots in bad weather or for better sun exposure, so you will need to plan around that.

When a seed has sprouted and become a viable plant, place any support that is going in the pot or in the ground nearby.

It is easier to do this at the beginning than it is to place a stake or tomato cage after the roots have formed.

You may need to tie the main stem to the support once it ‘s six inches tall if the cage does n’t completely surround the plant.

The stems should be tied with loops of cotton or nylon fabric so that they still have four inches between them.

You do n’t want the plants to get knocked over by a gust of wind, but you do n’t want to restrict air circulation or cut into the stem while trying to prevent them from falling either

If you notice that your dwarf varieties need support later in the season, you can use 16 inch plant supports with a curved top.

There are plant support stakes.

It is easy to install the supports later on, without damaging the roots. They are available in 10-packs from ODOXIA.

There is watering.

Securing enough sun but not getting too dry is the key to a healthy plant.

The rain will provide some water, but you will have to supplement.

A close up horizontal image of a greenhouse with a variety of different plants growing in containers with a watering can in the foreground.

The soil has a chance to dry out at least an inch down in between rains.

Start watering the seedlings four inches away from the main stem.

The roots of the plants will grow strong if you give them a watering about 20 days before they bloom.

The timing of your seed packet is under “ days to maturity ”.

Water again about 20 days after flowering to encourage healthy roots that will help the plants receive the nutrition they need to form seed heads.

Deep watering until the last blooms have formed is what you should do if you have a branching variety.

Once they reach four inches tall, mulch the seedlings with a couple of inches of straw.

Do n’t place mulch within two inches of the center stem. It is easy for soil- or water-borne pathogens to jump from wet mulch to the plants, so do n’t provide a path by mulching too close.

A close up horizontal image of potted plants growing in a patio garden with a white wooden fence in the background.

There is a watering can with a long spout that can be used to water at the soil line.

If you water overhead with spray, you may promote disease by wet leaves, and you also risk not having enough water reach the soil and roots.

If you want to know when to water, stick your finger into the soil. It is time if the soil is dry to the touch.

You will want to give each pot a quart of supplemental water at a time.

Allow any excess water to drain for 15 minutes, and then pour the excess from the tray or cachepot below the container.

If you have placed a pot with drainage holes inside a larger pot that does n’t have drainage, this is important.

You do n’t want standing water beneath your sunflowers, or anywhere in your growing area, since it encourages diseases and insects like mosquitoes.

Extra water should be dumped from those trays after heavy rains.


If you planted in a healthy soil with lots of compost, you wo n’t need to usefertilizer.

A close up horizontal image of a sunflower growing in a small container on a windowsill in front of a sash window.

Some experienced home gardeners add balanced fertilization to the pail when they water, following the manufacturer ‘s instructions.

I would n’t do it more than once in a growing season if you feel like the soil has been damaged by frequent waterings.

Picking up something.

You can grow flowers in containers, or bring the whole pot indoors at its peak.

A close up horizontal image of a sunflower that is about to open up surrounded by green foliage.

When the flower heads are just starting to show color, bring the blossoms indoors. Remove the leaves from the lower part of the stalks before placing them in water.

If you grow a single-stem variety, pick it at the end of the season.

I like to plant branching dwarf varieties in pots. They bloom continuously for weeks, providing either a beautiful decoration in the pot, or plenty of stems for compact flower arrangements.

For the branching types, clipping individual stems will not encourage more blooms, but it will make the plant look better.

There are growing tips.

  • Each six-inch pot has one dwarf sunflower seed, or three in a one-gallon pot.
  • Plants should receive full sun outdoors or significant light indoors.
  • In well-draining soil, plant.
  • Place pots that are protected from strong winds.
  • To suppress weeds, add mulch to the pots.

Pests and disease can be managed.

Most of the ones grown in containers will be unaffected by pests or diseases.

A close up horizontal image of a sunflower suffering from a plant disease pictured in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.

Squirrels and birds are the biggest threat. It is easier to protect potted plants than it is to grow them in the garden.

You can protect a few pots with a row cover or protective net.

You can literally move containers out of harm ‘s way if rabbits are an issue. It will be hard for rabbits to reach them if they are placed on a table or wall.

This growing method makes it easier to eradicate insect pests by looking at individual plants and blooms.

They will be closer to your home. They will not have weeds or other flowering plants growing next to them.

A close up horizontal image of an insect on the leaf of a plant.

There are pests that might attack H. Cutworms, stem weevils, and lygus bugs are included in annuus.

You can learn more about the pests in our guide.

There are diseases that you should be on the lookout for.

The best way to prevent them is to make sure your plants have enough air circulation and to always water at the soil line.

Growing sunflowers in well-draining soil and in pots will help you to avoid diseases such as phoma black stem and phomopsis stem canker.

Either will turn the stems black and make your sweet sunflowers lose their leaves, but both are readily avoided by selecting resistant cultivars, spacing the plants properly, and never allowing the soil to get soggy.

In our guide, you can learn more about drooping sunflowers.

Category: Flower

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