Ask a Question forum: Can a sunflower be grown indoors?

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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
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keithp2012
Oct 21, 2016 6:06 PM CST
I have special seedlings I would like to grow indoors during winter and plant out late spring, is it possible to keep them compact and not get laggy?
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Oct 21, 2016 6:29 PM CST
Hi Keith,

Why don't you want to wait until spring to plant your seeds?

I think anything can be grown indoors if you work hard enough.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Zinnias Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Annuals Spiders! Hybridizer Garden Photography
Vegetable Grower Tomato Heads Native Plants and Wildflowers The WITWIT Badge Daylilies Dog Lover
keithp2012
Oct 21, 2016 7:35 PM CST
DaisyI said:Hi Keith,

Why don't you want to wait until spring to plant your seeds?

I think anything can be grown indoors if you work hard enough.


They randomly sprouted outside but I found special ones so I put each in a small pot but once it gets cold they will die unless indoors
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Oct 21, 2016 7:50 PM CST
Give them a try, Keith. If they get too leggy you could cut them back when you plant them outdoors in the spring.
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KarenHolt
Oct 21, 2016 9:48 PM CST
Hmmm.... Do you have growing lights or a light set up of some kind? I just don't think you are going to have a south window that is going to even come close to the amount of sunshine it takes a sunflower to grow and be happy. You can try, but I wouldn't look for much. If you can at least limp it along during the winter, maybe once you plant it outside it will do better and you will not have lost the strain.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Oct 21, 2016 10:28 PM CST
You can cut back a sunflower? Confused

You will need grow lights and heat to get them through the winter. I think sunflowers are annuals so they may decide to die anyway. Crying
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Oct 23, 2016 9:12 AM CST
Unless its a wild sunflower you cant cut it back. I dont think !!!!
Keep em warm and under a good grow lite 1 1/2 " above em. And put a stake in em right now.
Good luck. I tip my hat to you.
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Oct 23, 2016 9:38 PM CST
I doubt it will be worth the effort in the end.
Wait till February at least, maybe March, start them under lights then, and plant out in May. They grow very quickly in full sun and warm soil,. You aren't gaining anything really, if you can even keep them alive thru winter.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Oct 24, 2016 10:20 AM CST
I think they are already sprouted.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Oct 24, 2016 4:50 PM CST
I hoped maybe there were some still in seed stage.
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Name: sy
Northern Ireland (Zone 8a)
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syzone8aUK
Oct 25, 2016 6:35 AM CST
Hi keith, I think because they are annuals you would need a light like daisy said! I don't think it would be easy setting up lights for sunflowers! You can however grow them indoors from early spring, for a while anyway! I have seen pots put on their side and the sunflowers growing sideways along the windowsill until it heats up outside, i would assume the main stem would be very tender growing this way.
Llike sally said they will grow very fast in full sun and warm soil! Even if your seedlings make it through the winter, the ones planted in spring will quickly catch up come summer! I think the most you would get out of it would be early flowers!
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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
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keithp2012
Oct 25, 2016 1:03 PM CST
syzone8aUK said:Hi keith, I think because they are annuals you would need a light like daisy said! I don't think it would be easy setting up lights for sunflowers! You can however grow them indoors from early spring, for a while anyway! I have seen pots put on their side and the sunflowers growing sideways along the windowsill until it heats up outside, i would assume the main stem would be very tender growing this way.
Llike sally said they will grow very fast in full sun and warm soil! Even if your seedlings make it through the winter, the ones planted in spring will quickly catch up come summer! I think the most you would get out of it would be early flowers!


I have a plant light mounted above a shelf, the problem is once the plant gets over a foot it will be too tall and must be kept on a windowsill and I'm sure I'll have to stake the plant. If it makes it to planting time in May I'd be happy
Name: sy
Northern Ireland (Zone 8a)
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syzone8aUK
Oct 25, 2016 2:09 PM CST
You might be able to give it enough hours of light but is it enough lumens for a sunflower? I dont know how much lumens they would need but i'd imagine its loads? There's also no wind indoors so the stem would be very thin and weak unless you have a fan blowing against it! I think they can be cut back, i have read you can pinch out sunflower so maybe that is something to consider! I have had an earthwalker throw out a few long/tall branches after slugs ate through the main stem! if it just sprouted now naturally it would not survive so I guess there's no harm in trying Thumbs up
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Name: sy
Northern Ireland (Zone 8a)
Region: United Kingdom Native Plants and Wildflowers Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds The WITWIT Badge Container Gardener
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syzone8aUK
Oct 26, 2016 5:45 AM CST
Just looking threw last years pics and found a pic I had forgotten about! Its a late sprouting sunflower from bird seed! Checking the dates, it was taken on 22nd october 2015 and it was just about to open its tiny bloom! It was gone a few days later when something ate it! It was less than 1" tall and very thin stem! Yours might decide to do the same and be long dead by the time may comes.

Thumb of 2016-10-26/syzone8aUK/89b855

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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Oct 26, 2016 12:28 PM CST
I agree, even if you can keep it alive through the winter, it will be long past its prime by May. The only thing to try is to keep it cool so it "thinks" it is a long, long springtime and maybe it will grow very slowly.

Light is definitely the limiting factor here. If you had a big, expensive fancy growing area with high intensity lights like the pot growers have, you'd be able to grow and bloom your sunflowers indoors. Failing that, I wouldn't count on anything happening.

Two years ago when I grew some sunflowers outdoors, they literally grew a foot a day when they got up to speed. The variety I had was supposed to be 5ft. tall and ended up over 9ft. The squirrels would climb them to get to the bird feeders. I tried pinching a few of them back, to keep them blooming. They did make side shoots and a few small wimpy flowers after the first flower was done, so it really wasn't worth it. I yanked them all out after 3 months.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: sy
Northern Ireland (Zone 8a)
Region: United Kingdom Native Plants and Wildflowers Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds The WITWIT Badge Container Gardener
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syzone8aUK
Oct 27, 2016 2:45 AM CST
Yes i would imagine a hid light would be needed! I think getting it to bloom and finishing its life cycle is more viable than over-wintering!

Found a better pic of the little one I had! You can see the bud a little clearer! It was about the size of small strawberry lol

Thumb of 2016-10-27/syzone8aUK/02663f

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Name: Eric
North Georgia, USA (Zone 7b)
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CommonCents
Oct 28, 2016 7:12 AM CST
Anything can be grown indoors with enough effort and enough (and the right) equipment.

You basically have two possible approaches to choose from. You could try to make a "very long early spring" environment, and try to preserve your seedlings to set out in the spring next year. Or you could just try to grow a full cycle, get them to bloom and collect seeds to plant next year. Simulating summer lighting and temperature and growing a full cycle will prove to be easier than the "extended early spring" environment, IMO.

To grow them for seed, you'll need a warm environment (70F-75F daytime temps, 55F-60F nighttime temps), and intense light on the whole plant for more than 12 hours per day. I'd go with 14 hours if the light is intense enough, or you can extend that some if your light sources aren't quite as intense as you need. Using a reflective "grow tent" will have two advantages for this, it makes a smaller space that is easier to heat and control temperature, and the reflective interior gets a lot more of the light from light sources onto the plant. Some T8 strips plus some "LED Grow lights" with more red than blue (3:1 red:blue is pretty common) will provide the light and the stimulus to bloom. You'll need to pollinate the flower(s) manually, to get it to give you seeds.

The other approach, the "extended early spring" will be more difficult. For that you want almost constant temperature around 50-55F, somewhat less intense lighting with very little red light. A little deep red is needed, even for vegetative growth, but you want most of the light in the blue band(s). "Aquarium lights" that are almost entirely blue would be best for this. The lighting level will be hard to hit for this. You want enough light that your plants don't get "leggy," but not so much light that they want to bloom. Fairly intense, mostly blue light for 8-9 hours per day, with long dark nights and lower temperatures would be the way to go for this approach.

Again, I really think it would be much easier to grow what you have full cycle, and save the seeds you gather from these seedlings after they bloom.
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Zinnias Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Annuals Spiders! Hybridizer Garden Photography
Vegetable Grower Tomato Heads Native Plants and Wildflowers The WITWIT Badge Daylilies Dog Lover
keithp2012
Oct 29, 2016 2:28 PM CST
These are the odd seedlings, 2 had pure white baby leaves now with green true leaves.
Thumb of 2016-10-29/keithp2012/e321ec
Thumb of 2016-10-29/keithp2012/a16d5a

Name: sy
Northern Ireland (Zone 8a)
Region: United Kingdom Native Plants and Wildflowers Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds The WITWIT Badge Container Gardener
Foliage Fan Sempervivums Houseplants Cactus and Succulents Region: New Mexico
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syzone8aUK
Oct 29, 2016 3:56 PM CST
All the size of them :thumbsup:

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Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 8b)
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kittriana
Oct 29, 2016 5:26 PM CST
I don't see a sunflower sprout. Cost prohibitive to grow thru NY winter. I tip my hat to you.
kitt

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