With the dreary winter almost upon you might be tempted to bring a little sunshine indoors. Growing plants indoors is a great way to brighten up your home, and there’s no plant that does it quite like the sunflower. Tall and beautiful, many outdoor gardens highlight their sunflowers, but we can grow them indoors too. Today, we’ll look at growing sunflowers indoors, and all the steps to growing these beautiful plants all year round.
Choosing a Variety
While traditional sunflowers can grow quite large, indoors you should look at dwarf varieties. These look almost identical to typical sunflowers, they’re just a bit smaller. Many dwarf varieties stay under 3 feet tall which makes them much more manageable for indoor growing.
A couple popular dwarf varieties include:
Any of these will be perfect for indoor growth, but there are dozens more that also work just as well.
That’s not to say you can’t grow normal sunflowers indoors, but you should make sure you have the space available to do so. A standard sunflower can easily grow to be 10 feet tall, or more.
Soil and Planting
You’ll want to start with a high quality potting soil that is well draining. There are also sunflower specific mixes that will work well but aren’t strictly necessary.
For the container, look to give about 6” in diameter per plant growing the dwarf variety. That would mean a 12” pot could grow 2 dwarf sunflowers. For larger varieties you’ll need to start with a larger container. Regardless, make sure your container has proper drainage holes to prevent pooling water.
If starting from seeds push them into the soil no more than an inch and keep the soil moist and warm. A seed tray on top of a fridge is a popular spot that is slightly warmer than the surrounding area. Sunflowers will germinate in about 10 days, and don’t require any light during this time. Once they sprout their first set of leaves you can gently transplant them to their permanent home.
As the name implies sunflowers like a lot of light. Look to get about 6-8 hours of bright light each day. A southerly facing window is a good growing location, but other sunny spots will work just as well.
Sunflowers that don’t get enough light will begin to look weak and will be unable to support their flower. In these cases you can support the plant as a temporary solution, but ultimately you’ll want to increase the light intake the plant receives.
If you’re having trouble getting your plant enough light, using grow lights is a great option. There are a lot of options available, and due to the smaller size of dwarf sunflowers you can get away with smaller and cheaper grow lights than would be needed for a full size variety. This is a great option to supplement natural light.
Watering and Feeding
Sunflowers enjoy deep waterings that soak the top 6” or so of the soil. Wait until the top of the soil is dry, then water until you notice water begin to leak out of the drainage holes of your container. This ensures that the soil is properly saturated. It depends on the growing environment, but watering once per week is generally enough.
The exception to this is when your sunflowers are young, usually within 3-4 weeks of sprouting. At this time you’ll want to keep the soil a bit more moist than normal. You should look to water 2-3 times per week during this stage in the sunflower’s life.
Sunflowers also do like a bit of fertilizer, but don’t need a lot. With that in mind, using a slow release fertilizer is an excellent choice that is also very low maintenance. This ensures that the plant gets a steady supply of nutrients without being too much or needing to spend time monitoring it.
Sunflowers can self-pollinate, but do require a bit of help when grown indoors. Outdoors insects like bees will move pollen from one flower to another, but that doesn’t happen indoors.
You’ll need to simulate this, but it’s very easy. Simply take a cotton swab or small paint brush and gently rub it on your plant’s flowers. This will simulate what it would experience outdoors and allow the plant to pollinate.
Growing Sunflowers Indoors
Sunflowers are a beautiful plant and quite easy to grow indoors. Sunlight is going to be your biggest concern, but if you can nail that then the rest is cake. Do you grow sunflowers indoors? Let us know if you do, we’d love to see your setup!
Growing Sunflowers Indoors FAQ
How Long Does It Take Sunflowers to Grow?
Sunflowers grow very quickly, and outdoors can grow as much as 12 feet in 3 months! Indoor varieties won’t grow that much, but expect them to grow to their full size in about the same amount of time.
Can You Grow Sunflowers in Pots?
Yes, but it’s easier to go with dwarf varieties that don’t get as large. Traditional sunflowers can still be grown in pots, but require a lot more space and much larger containers.
Are Sunflowers Easy To Grow?
Yes! The primary issue you’ll face when growing indoors is sunlight; if you can handle that the rest is pretty easy.