Sunflowers add vibrant color to a landscape and are easy to maintain, making them a summertime favorite. Most people think of tall plants with a single bloom when they hear sunflowers, and this is an option, but there are many varieties, including bushy, shrub-like sunflowers. These bushy cultivars are flexible and can be grown in a landscape, but they can also be grown in containers. Growing sunflowers in containers provide more placement options so you can grow sunflowers on a deck, patio, balcony, or any area needing sunny flowers.
Planting Sunflowers in Pots
Place potted sunflowers in full sun. Spring is the best time to plant sunflowers in pots. Annual sunflowers are best planted in the spring because they are only around for one year, so spring planting allows you to make the most of that time. Perennial sunflowers should also be planted in pots during the spring. Giving them an early start allows the plants to acclimate before winter weather hits. The ideal container for sunflowers will have drainage holes. Sunflowers have a deep root system, so select a container that is more deep than wide if possible.
Best Soil For Sunflowers in Pots
Sunflowers need moist, well-drained soil. These plants do not like to be constantly wet, so soil that allows excess moisture to drain is vital. The soil should also have high organic content and a 6.0-7.5 pH. Amend the soil with organic compost when planting. Add a layer of mulch to support growth while also retaining moisture.
Caring For Sunflowers in Planters
Sunflowers in planters have similar care needs to plants in the ground, except for increased water needs. Place the potted plants in a spot that receives direct sunlight. Most sunflowers are not well suited to growing in hanging baskets because of their branched, upright growth habit.
Watering Sunflowers in Pots
Water sunflowers in pots when the top 2 inches of soil are dry, approximately 2-3 times per week. The soil in containers dries out more quickly than garden soil, so the plant will need water more often. Drench the soil until water runs through the pot. Sunflowers in the ground develop drought tolerance, but container plants need routine watering to keep their foliage lush and support the bloom cycle.
Fertilizing Sunflowers in Pots
Container-grown sunflowers should be fertilized to help the plants thrive. Sunflowers do best in rich soil, but watering the container will leach nutrients from the soil over time. You can topdress the soil with organic compost or mulch to support new growth. Feed sunflowers in pots using a balanced fertilizer or a product low in nitrogen. Slow-release fertilizer can be applied in the spring for perennial and annual sunflowers. Perennial sunflowers can get a second application of fertilizer during mid-summer.
Winter Care For Sunflowers in Pots
Annual sunflowers in pots can be cut back when the flowers fade in the fall. The plant is done once the flowers begin to fade, so the plants can be composted and the pot emptied and put away until spring. Most perennial sunflowers are herbaceous, so they can be cut back in the fall when the growth fades. The roots still need protection from cold winter weather, so move the pot to a basement, shed, or garage. Potted plants do not need to be in a heated space to survive the winter, but they need to be out of freezing temperatures and snow.
Growing Sunflower Indoors
Sunflowers do not make good houseplants during the winter. Annual varieties die in the fall at the completion of the bloom cycle. Perennial sunflowers are herbaceous, and the above-ground growth dies in the fall. The roots are dormant during the winter, and new growth emerges in the spring.