Growing Sunflowers In Containers
Sunflowers are very large, very tall, but they still grow well in containers. They germinate very quickly, and should be started indoors two or three weeks before the last frost. When all danger of frost has passed, you can transplant the seedlings into their containers and set them outside.
Optionally, if you live in a climate with a long growing season, you can also sow the seeds directly into the containers.
Sunflowers are remarkably easy to grow, even in containers. They require very little care other than occasional watering. They can tolerate heat, they can tolerate missing watering now and then, and the only real issue you might have to deal with is mildew on the leaves, which is rarely fatal to the plants. Since they are such hardy plants, they make excellent plants for children to grow, and they are a great starter plant for new container gardeners.
The petals can be plucked from the flowers and used in salads. If you only pluck a few from each flower, it won’t even damage the plant. The seeds can be collected once the flowers each full size. To test whether or not the seeds are ready to harvest, simply wiggle them with your fingers. If they move easily, they are ready.
Sunflower buds can be steamed or sauteed. They are served like artichokes. The petals can be used as colorful additions to salads. And the seeds are great roasted.
Although almost any variety could be grown in containers, the dwarf sunflowers are easier. Some of the better dwarf varieties include:
Sunspot – This is a small dwarf sunflower that only reaches about two feet in height, yet produces stunning 10 inch flowers with very large seed heads.
Music Box – This is an award-winning variety that reaches about two feet in height and produces many smaller flowers. They also come in a variety of colors.
Teddy Bear – This is a great variety for children. The flowers are flat, round, and very frilly. They look a bit like gigantic, flat marigolds. These don’t have visible seed heads, so don’t count on these if you wish to grow them for seeds.
Big Smile – This is a very short sunflower, only reaching about a foot in height. The flowers are about 5 inches wide, and are golden yellow with a dark center.