Sunflowers are a pretty easy plant to grow and make a great kid-friendly gardening project. Plus, everyone loves sunflowers, right?
Let’s look at how to grow sunflowers on a balcony so you can brighten up your space with these happy flowers.
Sunflowers grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 2-11, which covers pretty much the whole country. Unsurprisingly, they like full sun all day, and the flowers will follow the sun as it moves across the sky (called heliotropism).
They like well-draining soil and hate being overwatered, meaning you can ignore them for longer than might seem appropriate. Depending on the variety, sunflowers can grow up to 10ft. tall, even in pots! If that feels like a bit much, you can get dwarf varieties that only reach 3ft.
Sunlight: Full sun
Grow in pots: Yes – ranging from 10” to 16” in diameter
Grow indoors: Yes
Soil type: Well-draining
When to plant: Spring
To grow sunflowers on a balcony, you’ll need:
1. Sunflowers are grown from seed. You should germinate these indoors in small pots in mid-spring (around April).
2. They should sprout after about 10 days. Water lightly every day and remove the weaker ones after about a week.
3. Once they’re a couple of inches tall, transplant into their permanent pot and place somewhere that gets at least 6 hours of full sun every day.
4. Once they’re about a foot tall, stake them down with a bamboo cane or similar for support.
5. You can feed them with a high-potassium fertilizer, but this definitely isn’t necessary.
There’s not much you need to do for sunflowers, providing they have the right growing conditions.
Watering is a difficult one to gauge because it’ll depend on the temperature. Water thoroughly (so it runs out the bottom of the pot), but you shouldn’t need to do this more than once a week. Sunflowers are drought-tolerant, meaning it’s best to underwater rather than overwater.
Slugs and snails love sunflowers. You can deter these pests by putting large pieces of crushed eggshell on the soil. Try to avoid using slug pellets regardless of whether you’ve got kids or pets.
Towards the end of the growing season, the flowers will start to droop. You can remove the seeds at this point and dry them out. All sunflower seeds are edible, but you could leave them out for birds instead.
Of course, you can keep the seeds for planting next year. However, hybrids (which usually have H1 in their name) won’t grow as the same plant next year. Heritage or “true” varieties will. Also, sunflowers are annuals, meaning you’ll need to plant new ones every year.
There’s very little that goes into growing sunflowers, which is why they’re such a kid-friendly project. Why not get everyone to plant their own seed and see whose will grow the tallest?