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A few weeks ago, I cleared the (rather mossy) top inch of soil off a plant trough, weeded the trough, and put in a mix of Commercial Multi-purpose Compost and some "compost" made from organic discards from a local Health-Store Chain. (Planet Organic, though it's equivalent to Wholefoods)

A couple of weeks later, all the plants seem pretty happy, but there are 2 very vigourous new seedlings growing, which I didn't plant.

To my eyes, they look like fairly generic "weedy plants". Before I pull them out, can anyone make any particular guesses as to what they are, and whether they're at all interesting? ( A year ago, I discovered that Lavender had seeded itself in one trough, which I was quite happy to keep!)

For context, the thing in the top right of the first picture is a cyclamen bulb, and the 2nd two pictures are chives.

  • Sunflowers or even cucumbers/squash. Growing baby plants in a 'trough' or even in too large pots is a very big no no. This is different than growing from seed in the garden. That soil might be yummy added to your garden soil but a restricted soil and restricted drainage is never healthy for baby plants. Using 'compost' from unknown sources, even at Top Foods or a friend's compost pile, not sterilized is a big no no for potted plants, which is what you've got going. Too much soil, too little roots and you will get root rot and all kinds of insects and who knows what else. Sunflowers...yup
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 19:14
  • 1
    Tiny pots for tiny plants then upgrade as they grow. Potted plants, potting soil with no other additions. Fertilizer after they've grown their 2nd or third set of leaves, not before. I'd take these little 'sunflowers' and put them in 2" peat pots with potting soil. Transplant into the garden after roots start to show. Or up pot with a slightly larger pot 4-6" with only potting soil and a little balanced fertilizer. Save your compost for your garden soil.
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 19:18
  • Hah! Yes, we've had a dried sunflower head on a washing line directly above the the troughs! Awesome! Glad I checked here then, thanks!
    – Brondahl
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 21:39
  • Hey J. Musser!! He was firstus!! @Brondahl You said this was old soil with moss and weeds on top. Sounds as if drainage is not good and that the soil is full of weeds because this soil is old or it came from your garden. Transplant your chives into your garden soil. Dump this soil out. This looks like a deal breaker with plants of any type; except moss and a few weeds.
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 22:47
  • @J.Musser Hey baby cakes, this is absolutely yours! Make an answer out of it!
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 22:48

1 Answer 1


That appears to be a sunflower seedling (Helianthus annuus). it could have come from bird seed, or droppings.

They can get quite large, and if you can put them in the ground that's ideal (if you want to keep them). They love nitrogen, and well drained neutral soil. Either way (pot or ground), they will probably flower and you can save the seeds.

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    Brondahl, I'd suggest transplanting your seedlings away from vegetables or herbs. Sunflowers have allopathic chemicals throughout the plant that inhibit other plants from doing well if planted near them. Some plants are more susceptible to this than others. I remember years back, I planted about six sunflowers along a section of my garden. The plants next to them did poorly. At the time, I thought that perhaps sunflowers were heavy feeders and/or used the water available. I found the reason years later.
    – Jude
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 5:16
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    FYI, I can confirm that they were indeed Sunflowers and grew nicely after being transplanted into their own pots.
    – Brondahl
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 11:23

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