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How to Grow Sunflowers Indoors With Fluorescent Light

sunflower and sunflower seeds image by Andrey Chmelyov from

The wide, cheerful, yellow blooms of sunflowers on towering green stalks are a welcome site in many summer gardens. If you don't have access to outside gardening space, or if you want to grow flowers in the wintertime, you can grow sunflowers indoors with fluorescent lights. You'll be limited to dwarf or miniature sunflowers, which produce shorter plants with smaller blooms, but the flowers are just as lovely, and they add a little bit of happy color to your home. Sunflowers are hardy, low-maintenance plants that are fairly easy to grow, even indoors.

Choose your sunflower seeds. Classic sunflowers can reach heights of 10 feet or more, and if grown indoors they will become weak and leggy. Instead, choose shorter varieties like teddy bear, sunny smile or firecracker sunflowers.

Select your pot. A 6-inch diameter pot can support one or two sunflower plants, while a 12-inch diameter pot can hold up to four small sunflowers. Make sure your pot has a drainage hole on the bottom. Clay pots allow your plants to breath better than plastic pots, and if your house is very dry consider using a glazed ceramic pot to help retain soil moisture. The pots should scrubbed clean before use.

Fill the pot with three or four parts all-purpose potting mix and one part compost.

Plant the sunflower seeds to a depth of about an inch and water well. You'll want to plant twice as many seeds as you are planning to grow so that later you can thin out the weakest individuals.

Place the pot under a light source. You don't need to use a special "grow light"--any bright fluorescent lamp will do--but specially designed indoor plant lights may be easier to maneuver than your average desk lamp. The light should be about 6 inches above the soil surface to start, and you should adjust the light as the plant grows so that the light is always within about a foot of the top of the plant.

Water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.

Allow your sunflower get eight to 12 hours of direct light every day, but switch the light off at night to let them rest. If you have your pot in a sunny window, make sure that you rotate it every few days so that the plant grows straight.

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