Sunflower Winter Care

Sunflowers are vibrant summer plants known for their sunny yellow flowers. Annual sunflowers only live for a single growing season, so despite your best efforts, these plants will be done when the weather turns cold. Perennial sunflowers are herbaceous, meaning the plant dies, and the roots are dormant during the winter. Overwintering perennial sunflowers requires some effort but is easy since these plants go dormant.


Protecting Sunflowers in Winter

Sunflowers do not require any special protection during the winter. Perennial sunflowers die back in the fall. The roots are dormant during the winter, but the ground provides enough protection against chilly winter temperatures.

Cutting Back Sunflower For Winter

Annual and perennial sunflowers can be cut back in the fall, or dead growth can be removed in the spring. Removing dead growth maintains a clean appearance, but waiting until spring to remove dead growth ensures birds can feed on the seeds. The plants may also self-seed if the flower heads are left in place, meaning more sunflower plants in spring.


Sunflower Winter Care in Pots

Potted sunflowers can be cut back in the fall. Move the potted plant to a basement, garage, shed, or protected area. The roots are dormant during the winter, so they will not grow, but they must be out of cold temperatures.

Watering Sunflowers in Winter

Watering potted sunflower plants is unnecessary during the winter. Perennial plants die back, go dormant, and do not need water during the winter. Wait until new growth appears in the spring to start watering again.

Growing Sunflowers Indoors

Perennial sunflowers need a dormant period, so they do not make good winter houseplants. The growth dies in the fall, and the roots need time to rest and gear up for the next growing season. Leave landscape plants outdoors, move container-grown plants to a protected area, and wait until spring.

Steps To Care For Sunflowers in Winter

Step 1 - Remove dead growth from annual and perennial sunflowers in the fall for a tidy landscape. The growth can be left in place until spring, providing a good food source for birds and allowing the plants to self-seed. 

Step 2 - Move potted perennial plants to a protected area like a garage, shed, or basement to get the dormant roots out of inclement weather.

Step 3 - Perennial and self-seeded annual plants grow again in the spring.

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 05-01-2023