How to grow sunflowers in pots

Updated February 21, 2017

Sunflowers are simply stunning when grown in pots and are placed in strategic locations in your garden or inside the home. These cheerful flowers come in a variety of sizes and colours and there is sure to be one that fits your size requirements. Tall giants make a wonderful border at the back of your perennial garden and smaller varieties can be tucked into tight spaces with ease.

Consider the many varieties available and narrow your choices down to two or three varieties that you would like to grow. Keep in mind that sunflowers need at least six hours of direct sunlight a day in order to perform their best. Sunflowers that do not receive enough sunlight will grow tall and spindly with weak stalks and will not have enough support to keep them upright.

Buy or make containers that will hold your sunflowers. Even giant varieties can be grown in containers that are 30 cm (12 inches) deep. Consider 22.5 litre (5 gallon) buckets, old milk crates or a simple wooden crate to house your giant sunflowers. Each plant will need its own container, unless you create a large wooden crate long enough to accommodate several plants.

Choose smaller buckets, bins or large plant pots for smaller varieties. Check your local charity shop for suitable containers that are inexpensive and decorative. As long as it will hold soil and you can provide some drainage, almost any container will do.

Fill the containers with a good quality potting soil. A soil that is pretreated with time-release fertiliser is a good choice. You may wish to add vermiculite to improve drainage and to create a lightweight soil. This is especially important if you wish to move your sunflowers to another location while entertaining guests.

Buy seeds for the variety you wish to grow or buy nursery stock plants that have already been started for you. Plants from the nursery will grow faster and bloom earlier, but planting from seed is less expensive and will allow you to grow any variety you wish.

Plant the seeds following the planting directions for the variety you choose. Be sure to keep the soil evenly moist until the sunflower seeds germinate. Once established, sunflowers are drought tolerant, but those grown in containers will require more frequent watering than those that are grown in the ground. Water whenever your sunflower shows signs of wilting.

Arrange your containers to spotlight your sunflowers. Grouping smaller varieties in front of giant sunflowers can bring a stunning display of colour to your garden in a fairly small area. Keep in mind the blooming time of your sunflowers and plant varieties that bloom at the same time to show of big and little flowers at the same time.

Keep in mind that sunflowers follow the sun while they are in the budding stage and will face east when they are in full bloom. Be sure to locate your flowers where you will be able to view them in full bloom. When planted on the western side of your property, the plants will be facing you when they bloom.

Fertilise with a high phosphorus fertiliser just prior to blooming time to promote large colourful blooms.

Things You'll Need

  • Plant pots
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Nursery stock plants
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About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.