Growing sunflowers in pots

Did you know that growing sunflowers in pots is easier than you might think? By starting with smaller varieties and following a few simple gardening tips, you can enjoy the fun of watching these vibrant beauties come to life.

Sunbuzz dwarf sunflower
‘sunbuzz’ dwarf sunflower

1. Choose dwarf varieties

When choosing which varieties of sunflowers to plant in pots, consider dwarf sunflowers because they are much smaller. These varieties will fit into smaller pots better. They will also make better indoor and patio plants since they won’t grow super tall. You might like Suntastic, Sunbuzz, Sunfinity, or Teddy Bear Sunflowers. These are all great dwarf sunflower varieties for planting in pots on the patio or indoors.

Grow a sunflower in a pot

2. Choose the right pots

The next step in growing sunflowers is to pick out a pot that’s large enough for the variety. There are many different types of sunflowers, each of which tends to grow to different heights. For instance, florist sunflowers can grow up to 6 feet tall, so choosing a large pot with plenty of room for the plant to expand is important. Dwarf sunflowers are generally fine in a flowerpot, but the 4′-5′ varieties do better in a big container like a whiskey barrel garden.

You’ll want to make sure that your pot has drainage holes at the bottom, too, so that excess water can drain away from the roots. If possible, go with deep pots that have plenty of room for soil and root growth.

Growing sunflowers in pots

3. Use well-draining soil

Well-draining soil is key to a healthy sunflower plant. The top of the soil should be able to dry out between waterings, so a potting mix with perlite or coconut coir works best. The potting mix should hold enough water for the plant but let any excess water drain out easily.

Potted sunflower on the deck - watering automatically
Drip irrigation for potted sunflowers

4. Water consistently

When growing sunflowers in pots, it’s important to remember that plants need consistent watering. Sunflowers in small pots should be watered once a day if the weather is hot and dry. Flowers in larger pots that don’t dry out quite as quickly may only need to be watered once weekly unless it’s very hot.

To ensure your sunflower gets enough water, try watering it early in the morning or late at night when temperatures and evaporation rates are lower. It’s also best to water at the base of your plant rather than overhead so as not to encourage fungus growth on its leaves.

Suncredible yellow sunflower

5. Provide adequate sunlight

Sunflowers need at least six hours of direct sunlight every day (and eight or more is better). If you’re planting in a container, you can move it around to get the right amount of sun. Set your pot on a dolly or wheels so that you can move it around as needed.

With sunflowers, more sun is usually better. This is only true, however, if the sunflower has adequate water. Sunflowers grown in pots can dry out much faster than sunflowers grown in the ground, so they may need to be kept out of the sun if they can’t be watered frequently.

Shade cloth is a thin fabric that blocks out the sunlight. It can be used to protect your sunflowers from too much heat and sun exposure, which will help them grow better if you live in a very hot climate and can’t water the plant as frequently as you’d like. You’ll want to use shade cloth if you live in an area where temperatures are consistently above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 C) and/or there’s no rain for weeks while the sunflowers are growing.

6. Consider companion planting

Consider companion planting if you’re growing your sunflower in a large pot. Plant some nasturtium seeds and let the vines trail down the side of the pot, or plant a few lettuce seeds at the base of the sunflower for some baby salad greens. Here are some more companion plants for sunflowers to consider.

7. Fertilize regularly

If you’ve ever grown plants, you know that they need food in order to grow. Plants need nutrient-rich fertilizer on a regular basis. Some potting mixes already contain fertilizer, but others will need to have plant food added. A dry granular slow-release product is the easiest to apply.

Sunflowers growing in a planter pot

8. Deadhead flowers regularly

Once the sunflowers start to grow and flower, you should prune off dead flowers regularly. Many dwarf varieties like Suntastic are branching varieties that naturally have many side shoots that grow from their main stems (or main branches). Deadheading helps keep them healthy and encourages more flowers.

9. Stake sunflowers in pots

To keep your sunflowers standing tall, you’ll likely want to stake them. Sunflowers grown in pots are not as stable as the flowers grown in the ground and require staking more often. Staking will ensure that the plant doesn’t fall over and avoid damaging the stem and leaves.

When you are staking a sunflower, it’s important to keep in mind that they can be staked when they’re young too! The stem will grow thicker as the plant grows older, so it is important to start early if you want your plants to maintain an upright stance for long periods of time later on.

10. Watch for pests and diseases

When you’re growing sunflowers in pots, it’s important to be on the lookout for pests and diseases.

Look at the leaves of your plants. Are they green? They should also not have brown or yellow spots on them (this is called chlorosis). Remove any leaves that are very damaged.

Also, look out for pests like aphids and other bugs that like to feed on the sunflowers. Spray them off with water or treat them with an organic insecticide.

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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