Dwarf sunflowers are similar to full-size sunflowers, although they may produce multiple flowers per stem, depending on the cultivar. They are annuals that die after they bloom. Their small size makes them well-suited to growing in small pots, and they can be grown indoors or outside. You can even grow sunflowers on a balcony. They have very specific requirements, however, that may make it difficult to grow them successfully inside many homes.
Growing Dwarf/Giant Sunflowers From Seed
Dwarf sunflowers can be grown in 6-inch-diameter containers with a soil-based potting mix. Depending on the cultivar, up to three sunflower plants can be planted in each 6-inch-diameter container. Seeds should be started in flats, though. The seeds usually are planted in late spring outdoors but can be started any time of year when the resulting plants will be grown indoors.
Mix together equal amounts of course sand and peat moss, fill the flats with the mixture and pour water over the mixture until it is thoroughly moistened. Plant the seeds at a depth of 1/2 inch and 6 inches apart in the mixture. The soil temperature should be maintained at 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray the soil with room-temperature water if it begins to dry. The seeds should germinate within 5-10 days, producing dwarf sunflower seedlings.
After the dwarf sunflower seedlings develop two to four leaves, they should be transplanted into 6-inch-diameter containers. The seedlings usually take two to three weeks to grow that number of leaves. Set the plants in front of a south- or west-facing window where they will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. If such as location is not available, then the sunflowers can be set in an east-facing window, and natural light can be supplemented with fluorescent light.
Maintaining Indoor Sunflowers
Dwarf sunflowers can withstand dry conditions but thrive in soil that is lightly moist at all times. Keeping the soil moist, but not waterlogged, is especially important during the first few weeks of growing sunflowers in pots. Water when the soil's top begins to dry.
Pinching off the tips of the dwarf sunflowers' branches as they grow encourages the plants to be bushier and produce more flowers than they would otherwise. It also encourages dwarf sunflowers that usually produce only one flower per stalk to produce multiple flowers.
Give the plants water-soluble fertilizer once per week, using a 15-5-15 fertilizer diluted at a rate of 1/4 teaspoon per each 1 quart of water. Apply the fertilizer to the sunflowers' potting soil after watering it with plain water.