You cannot help but smile when looking up at a sunflower. These bright, cheery plants not only inspire joy, but sunflowers are incredibly useful because they are edible! If you want to grow sunflowers and have been wondering if you can grow sunflowers indoors, we’ve done the research to get the answer for you.
Yes! You can grow sunflowers indoors. Check out these sunflower varieties to add a bit of sunshine to your home:
- Sunny Smile (or Sunspot)
- Teddy Bear
- Sunrich Limoncello Summer
- Ms. Mars
- Lemon Queen Sunflower
Sunflowers are low maintenance, fast-growing plants. Keep reading, and we’ll tell you how to grow the incredible, edible sunflower indoors.
What Sunflowers Can I Grow Indoors?
Sunflowers grow in a variety of colors and heights, 70 species, to be exact. Most of these towering beauties are best grown outdoors. But several dwarf and hybrid (F1) species grow successfully planted in containers indoors.
Dwarf sunflowers are naturally smaller in plant size because they contain lower levels of growth hormone. In contrast, hybrid sunflowers are bred for specific qualities, such as height, color, and flower size.
Of course, you can grow any type of sunflower indoors, but the container size is likely to stunt the maximum growth of larger sunflower varieties. Here are several sizable choices of sunflowers that will thrive indoors.
A hybrid sunflower, the sunny smile (or sunspot), will brighten your home without dusting pollen atop the surfaces because it is pollen-free. The cheerful 2”- 5” bloom is a miniature of the classic mammoth variety, with yellow-orange petals around a black center. Sunny smile sunflowers grow between 6” and 20” tall depending on the size of the pot; larger pots encourage growth.
You will soon see why this single-stem sunflower is called Teddy Bear when golden, fluffy blooms appear in just 5-weeks after directly sowing seeds. Teddy bear sunflowers grow to heights between 24” to 36” tall, and produce a 6,” pom-pom shaped bloom.
Another pollen-free hybrid, the Firecracker, is a branching sunflower that explodes with multiple, 4”-6” bi-colored, red-yellow blooms. Great for growing indoors, this dwarf sunflower grows to heights between 16” and 36” tall.
Sunrich Limoncello Summer
The eye-catching blossom of a Sunrich Limoncello Summer Sunflower has bi-colored, pale yellow petals that transition to darkened yellow. Brightly colored, yellow rings at the brown center hold your gaze on these 4” to 6” flowers. Sunrich Limoncello Summer is hybrid, pollen-less sunflowers, with a single-stem, that grow to heights between 48” to 60” tall.
Find these sunflowers exclusively at seed dealers.
Radiant hues of light pink, to merlot diffuse the petals of Ms. Mars heirloom sunflowers. These pretty blossoms set this branching sunflower aglow. At heights between 20” and 30” tall, Ms. Mars is a great choice for an indoor sunflower.
Lemon Queen Sunflower
The dainty, 4” - 6” bloom of the lemon queen sunflower has light yellow petals around a brown center. A branching sunflower, the lemon queen produces hundreds of blooms on one plant that can grow up to 72” tall.
How Do You Care for Sunflowers Indoors?
It’s fun to watch the rapidly growing sunflower take shape, from a directly sown seed to a vibrantly blooming flower. Sunflowers are not fussy plants, so just a little care can keep these flowers happily indoors.
Select a container or pot, roughly 12-inches to 18-inches in diameter, that has drainage holes and a water catchment tray at the bottom. Sunflowers have a sturdy tap root, and depending on the maximum height of the plant, the root will need approximately 2-feet of depth to establish a solid base. Fill the pot with permeable soil.
Need help choosing the right pot? Check out our post, “Types of Planters and Planting Pots.”
Plant one sunflower seed per pot, approximately 1-inch deep into the soil. Keep the pot in a warm, sunny location; germination is successful when soil is between 55°F and 60°F. Water daily to keep the soil moist but not over-saturated. You should expect the seed to sprout within 7-10 days of being planted.
Move the sprouted sunflower to a location that provides direct sunlight. Continue to water young plants frequently, pouring water several inches from the stem’s base, at the outskirts of the pot so as not to over-saturate the taproot.
As the sunflower grows, stake taller plants to provide extra support to the stem. Keep sunflowers in direct sunlight and water sparingly, once or twice per week. You do not need to fertilize sunflowers.
What are Sunflowers Used For?
As a plant that is native to North America, the sunflower is a natural food source for butterflies, bees, birds, and critters like squirrels and chipmunks. These flowers will attract wildlife to your backyard garden. But, animals are not the only ones reaping the benefits of the sunflower.
Cultivated as a food source, each part of the sunflower can be safely eaten by humans. Cooking oil is produced as a byproduct of the sunflower’s seeds.
Gathered sunflowers also create a beautiful bouquet, either solo or arranged with other flower species.
Harvesting Sunflowers to Eat
Sunflower sprouts, petals, leaves, and stems can be eaten either raw or cooked. The head of the flower can be prepared similarly to an artichoke and has a similar flavor.
Finally, the long-awaited seeds can be harvested at the end of the sunflower’s annual lifespan to be eaten either raw or cooked.
Harvesting Sunflowers for Bouquets
If you plan to make a bouquet from your sunflowers, cut the stem early in the day to prevent the flower from wilting. Select flowers just before the flower’s bud has completely opened, so the center is not yet exposed. Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle and submerge the stems in lukewarm water as soon as possible after cutting.
Sunflowers will remain robust in a vase for up to 1-week, provided the bouquet is kept in bright, indirect sunlight, and water is changed daily.
Harvesting Sunflower Seeds
Once you notice the flower head beginning to wilt, you can cut the flower to harvest the seeds. Cut just below the base of the flower head. Either lie the flower head out on a clean surface or hang to dry. The petals and foliage will become yellowed, and die. The plump seeds will become loose.
To remove seeds you can:
- Rub two flower heads together, with seed-sides facing.
- Rub your hand over the seeds.
- Use a fork or utensil to pull seeds.
- Rub flower head on a washboard or corrugated surface.
As you remove the seeds, gather seeds into a bowl, or atop a clean towel. Let seeds dry completely before storing in an airtight container.
Where Do You Put Sunflowers Indoors?
Did you know that sunflowers are heliotropic plants? This means that the flower slowly turns its head toward the direction of the sunlight. Sunflowers prefer direct sunlight, so it is best to put them in a location that gets 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day.
Truly a summer flower, sunflowers prefer warm conditions for optimal growth. Put your sunflower in a location that has daytime temperatures between 70-80°F and nighttime temperatures between 55-60°F.
Want to incorporate plants into your home’s decor, but only have low lighting? Check out our blog, “14 Large Indoor Plants for Low Light.”
How Much Does a Sunflower Grow in a Week?
The life cycle of a sunflower is roughly 18-weeks (or four months). Depending on the variety, sunflowers reach full maturity between 80 and 120 days. Blossoms develop by week 10, and vibrant flowers bloom through week 14. As seeds develop, flowers wilt, and the life cycle ends. Sunflowers are annual plants, so new seeds must be planted each year.
You now know how to care for sunflowers indoors, and have several radiant varieties to choose from. Start growing and enjoy your little slice of sunshine!