From seed to seed

A Sunflower’s journey in a container

Every sunflower plant that I came across in my whole life had either been planted in a field or on the side walk but NEVER in containers in a rooftop garden. It’s either because people don’t want to grow sunflowers at home, or they don’t know if they can. If you are one of those people, let me tell you that yes, you can.
My inspiration of growing sunflowers came from a very close friend who told me that sunflowers match my personality (awww!!) and secondly, because I wanted to experiment for my blog Plant It. So here are the tips to help you grow these beauties at home in containers.

1- Season
The best time to grow sunflowers is from April-August. I started seeds in May mainly because my local garden store didn’t have the seeds.
2- Starting off
If the seeds are good, they should sprout within three days. To start my seeds, I used a 50-hole seedling tray with big enough holes, filled them up with manure + wood husk mixture and tucked the seeds in nice and tight. Make sure that the seedling tray is kept in a place with 3-4 hours of sunlight and enough water. Do NOT make the soil soggy otherwise “It’s over for you seedlings!”
3- Toughen up
Once the seedlings have developed true leaves, it’s time to harden them up which means that you slowly increase their sunlight intake. This will help them grow strong and get used to garden conditions.
4- Moving out
I like to shift my seedlings in a slightly larger plastic container where I can grow them to almost half a foot tall and then transfer to the actual container. This was an absolute disaster with sunflowers. Out of forty seedlings, only 3 remained.
Let the seedlings grow to half a foot tall in seedling tray and then directly shift to bigger containers. I chose a 16” wide and 20” inch terracotta pot.
5- Soil
Sunflowers will literally survive in any sort of soil, just take normal garden soil, dig up a hole of almost 6 inches and tuck the seedlings in. The critical thing is the sunlight intake. Since these are called “Sunflowers”, you’d assume that they do very well in bright sunlight; nope, they don’t. Not in containers at least. This is a hit & trial really; if you see the leaves drooping, move to shade and water daily.
6- Enjoy
Don’t forget to sit back and enjoy the beauty that you helped grew.
7- Seed Saving
Once the sunflowers have reached an old age and their heads are drooping and dead, cut them off and set aside to dry. After drying, brush the pollen off of the head and you’ll find black seeds at the base. Take them out, put it in an air sealed bag and save for next season.
Uswa is a plant enthusiast and a proud plant mamma of over 100 plants. She is pursuing her studies in the field of Remote Sensing and Machine Learning and runs a plant blog on Instagram with the name Plant It