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How To Harvest Sunflower Seeds

A Step-by-Step Guide to Harvesting Sunflower Seeds.



Sunflowers are not only beautiful and vibrant additions to any garden, but they also offer a tasty treat in the form of their seeds. Harvesting sunflower seeds is a rewarding process that allows you to enjoy the fruits of your gardening labor. In this guide, we'll take you through the steps to successfully harvest sunflower seeds and enjoy their deliciousness.


My fondness for sunflowers started several years ago through a delightful accident. It all began when I decided to attract the vibrant presence of cardinals and blue jays to my bird feeder. In pursuit of this goal, I purchased bird seed containing sunflower seeds, not realizing the wonderful journey it would set in motion.


As time went on, something extraordinary unfolded. I saw an abundance of sprouts emerging, each one a mystery until they grew large enough to reveal their identity. While uncertainty initially lingered, my intuition told me these were no ordinary weeds. So, I decided to let them flourish, intrigued by the prospect of what they might become.



Weeks went by, and to my amazement the mysterious seedlings became a symphony of sunflowers. These magnificent blooms had sprouted from the very seeds that had fallen from the bird feeder. A chance purchase intended to attract birds had unexpectedly, nurtured a lush tapestry of sunflowers that now graced my surroundings.


This encounter with nature's creativity awakened my love for sunflowers. Their ability to grow from the simplest of seeds, carried by birds to places unknown, filled me with awe. From that moment onward, sunflowers held a special place in my heart, a reminder of the beauty that can emerge from unexpected beginnings.


How To Harvest Sunflower Seeds


How do I know when sunflowers are ready to harvest?

Step 1: Choose the Right Time

Timing is crucial when it comes to harvesting sunflower seeds. Wait until the flower head begins to droop and the backside turns yellow or brown. The petals may also start to fall off. This indicates that the seeds are mature and ready for harvesting.


Step 2: Gather Your Tools

You'll need a few tools for this task:

- Pruning shears or a sharp knife

- Gloves to protect your hands from the prickly flower head

- A clean, dry container to collect the seeds


Step 3: Prepare the Area

Place a cloth or tarp beneath the sunflower to catch any seeds that fall during the harvesting process. This will help you collect seeds more efficiently and keep your space tidy.


Step 4: Remove the Flower Head

Using pruning shears or a sharp knife, carefully cut the flower head from the stem. Leave about 12 to 18 inches of stem attached to the flower head. This stem will serve as a handle during the seed removal process.


Step 5: Remove the Seeds

How do I get seeds from my sunflower?

Hold the flower head by the stem and gently rub your hand over the face of the flower to dislodge the seeds. They will easily fall out of the individual florets. Alternatively, you can use your fingers to pluck the seeds from the florets.



Step 6: Separate the Seeds

Place the collected seeds in a bowl of water. This will help separate any remaining plant debris and allow the viable seeds to sink to the bottom while the debris floats. Skim off the debris and drain the water.


Step 7: Dry the Seeds

Spread the cleaned seeds on a paper towel or a clean, dry cloth in a well-ventilated area. Allow them to air dry for a few days until they are completely dry. Make sure to stir them occasionally for even drying.


Step 8: Store the Seeds

Once the seeds are thoroughly dry, store them in a cool, dry place. You can use paper envelopes, glass jars, or airtight containers. Just make sure the containers are clean and moisture-proof to prevent mold.



Commonly asked questions

What time of year can I plant sunflowers?

The best time to plant sunflower seeds is typically in the late spring or early summer, when the soil has warmed up and the last frost has passed. This is usually around April to May, depending on your specific location and climate. Sunflowers thrive in warm temperatures and full sunlight.


How long does it take sunflowers to grow?

Sunflowers generally take about 80 to 120 days to grow from planting to full maturity. However, the exact time can vary based on factors such as the sunflower variety, growing conditions, and climate. Some smaller varieties might mature faster. Sunflowers have a leisurely growth pace, yet they demand minimal maintenance, requiring nothing more than your observation as their exquisite transformation unfolds.


Can I plant harvested sunflower seeds the following year?

Yes, you can plant harvested sunflower seeds the following year. Make sure to store them in a cool, dry place over the winter to maintain their viability. Keep in mind that germination rates might decrease over time, so its a good idea to test a few seeds indoors before planting a larger batch outside.


How to prepare harvested sunflower seeds for consumption

To prepare and salt harvested sunflower seeds, you can follow these steps:

1. Soaking: Place the harvested sunflower seeds in a bowl of water with about 1/4 cup of salt for every 2 cups of seeds. Let them soak for 24 hours. This helps to soften the shells and allows the salt to penetrate.

2. Draining and Rinsing: After soaking, drain and rinse the seeds thoroughly under cold water to remove excess salt and any debris.

3. Boiling: Fill a pot with water and add about 1/4 cup of salt for every 2 cups of seeds. Bring the water to a boil and add the sunflower seeds. Let them boil for about 10-15 minutes. This helps to further flavor the seeds.

4. Roasting: Drain the seeds again and spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer. You can blot them with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Roast the seeds in an oven preheated to around 325°F (165°C) for about 20-30 minutes or until they are golden brown and crispy. You can also add more salt at this stage if desired.

5. Cooling: Allow the roasted seeds to cool before eating. They will become even crispier as they cool down.


Keep in mind that the roasting time might vary depending on the size of the seeds and your oven, so it's a good idea to check them periodically. Adjust the salt amount to your taste preferences. Once the seeds are roasted and salted to your liking, you can enjoy them as a tasty snack!


Harvesting sunflower seeds is a simple and enjoyable process that allows you to reap the benefits of your sunflower garden. Following these steps will ensure you have a bountiful supply of delicious seeds for snacking, baking, or planting next year. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and the natural beauty that sunflowers bring to your outdoor space.


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Hello, my name is Wendy I live in upstate NY with my husband and four children. Now that my children are getting older I have some extra time to share my experiences, recipes, traditions and life tips.

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