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Growing sunflowers and reaping the benefits.

Updated on November 11, 2014
A beautiful sunflower in bloom in my own back yard.
A beautiful sunflower in bloom in my own back yard. | Source

I grew my first sunflower when i was just seven years old. At such a young age, it blew my mind that something could grow so tall in such a short space of time and i was amazed at how beautiful the flower was. I was very proud of my achievement but was devastated when my older sister got a pet rabbit and it ate the bottom and it just toppled over dead. Little did i know back then that sunflowers are an annual plant and that its fate was to die anyway, but the rewards from this magnificent "dying" flower are enormous.

Health benefits of eating sunflower seeds.

Snacking on sunflower seeds is a good way to stem your hunger throughout the day.

  • They can help to lower cholesterol.
  • Sunflower seeds are a high source of vitamin E, vitamin B1, copper and magnesium.
  • They can help improve your body's cardiovascular system.
  • They are a good source of protein.


Sunflower seeds are a tasty and nutritious snack that a lot of people enjoy worldwide, but instead of buying them at your local store, why not grow them yourself? You can get upwards of 1,000 seeds from one flower head. Like every other plant, there are many different varieties of sunflowers and they all do the same thing but if you are looking to get a lot of seeds from the one plant then choose the biggest, heavy cropping variety. With so many different types it is fun to shop around and experiment with all the different ones. The seeds can be enjoyed in many different ways, either as a snack by themselves or as a compliment to salads or a stir fry. They can also be added to different breads and pastries when baking or ground up and added to cakes. The choices are endless and many recipes can be found easily online.

Source

Growing sunflowers couldn't be easier.

Sunflowers will grow anywhere and are a very hardy plant. Growing them is as easy as just putting a seed in the ground and letting nature do the work for you, but with a little TLC you will really bring out the best that the plant has to offer. Here are just a few simple tips to keep you on the right track.

  • Sunflowers grow best in full sunlight and need plenty of water on those very sunny days.
  • They need support as they grow so it is a good idea to have a bamboo cane or something similar to tie the plant to as it grows. This will stop the wind from blowing it over and damaging the plant.
  • Slugs and snails will try to eat your sunflower so my advice would be to create a little perimeter of crushed egg shells to keep them at bay, as opposed to using chemicals
  • When any of the lower leaves on the stem start to whither or turn yellow simply just cut them away and add them to the compost pile.

To insure that your plant gets a good head start it is a good idea to plant them in small containers indoors and allow them to reach a height of around 8" or so then you can just pick a spot in your already established garden for the sunflower to tower above the rest. You can also grow them in pots individually or in pairs, however this method needs good support as the wind could easily blow the sunflower over with the pot.

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Get your seeds for next year!

The sad face of a sunflower approaching the end of its life.
The sad face of a sunflower approaching the end of its life. | Source

As the sunflower gets older and the pedals start to disappear one by one you will start to notice that it's head begins to tilt forward and the once happy face looks more and more melancholy by the day. This is the natural process that would throw a lot of people off the idea of growing sunflowers as it becomes unsightly however, it is in this "death" that the flower gives up its bountiful treasure and its opportunity to be born again.

This one looks about right to start picking out the seeds.
This one looks about right to start picking out the seeds. | Source

Getting your seeds.

The key to getting good seeds is knowing when to cut off the head of the sunflower. When you can start to see the seeds emerge from the head and they have a little bit of white then you're ready to go. There are so many different ways to do this and it is hard to go wrong. I like to keep mine plain and simple. Once you have gathered up as many as you want and gave them a little rinse with water simply place them on a baking tray, sprinkle some salt over them and pop them in the oven. It depends on the size of your seeds how long they go in the oven for but you have to judge it yourself. Once the seeds are cracking well then they are ready to eat.

I think this video sums up roasting them quite well. Enjoy.

Do you enjoy snacking on sunflower seeds?

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    • kevin murphy-87 profile imageAUTHOR

      kevin murphy 

      3 years ago from Ireland

      Cool, do you have a favorite variety you would recommend? I must be very lucky because I never have any problems with birds and my plants. I suppose having a very small back yard has it's advantages.

    • JTRyder profile image

      John Thomas Niswonger 

      3 years ago from Dayton, Ohio

      I love to grow sunflowers. I have several different varieties and, as of yet, I have not been able to beat the birds to the seeds. It doesn't really bother me that much. I love to watch the different species of birds that come to harvest the seeds. BTW...I take copper ground wire and bury it about 1/2" deep around the perimeter of the garden. This keeps the slugs away!

    • kevin murphy-87 profile imageAUTHOR

      kevin murphy 

      3 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks Better Yourself. They are very impressive and are a must for all gardens. :)

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 

      3 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub, and congrats on HOTD!! I love sunflower seeds, and funny enough never considered growing them myself. And who wouldn't love to have a garden full of sunflowers, thanks for the idea!

    • kevin murphy-87 profile imageAUTHOR

      kevin murphy 

      3 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks everyone! :)

      @Crisantono I actually think they would grow in a tropical climate, but don't quote me. There's no harm in giving it a try.

    • kristyleann profile image

      Kristy LeAnn 

      3 years ago from Princeton, WV

      I love sunflowers. I plant them every summer. :) I didn't know that trick with the egg shells though. I'll have to try that next year.

    • Country Homemaker profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Beautiful pictures. I just love sunflowers! Welcome to HubPages. I look forward to following your work here.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hi, I love sunflower seeds but have never tried to grow them. My neighbor grows them. I thing I will try them since they are easy to grow. Nice Hub.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      3 years ago from Minnesota

      I have often thought about growing sunflowers for the sake of feeding the birds and critters during those long winter months. Just might give it a go. Congrats on HOTD!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Appreciate the tips! We actually grew sunflowers this summer, a few of them, and I used extra tomato cages to help keep them upright. The plan was to save the seeds for the birds this winter, but we had so much fun watching the squirrels' acrobatics as they jumped, climbed, and swung from anything they could get their tails on to get to the seeds. Next year we'll plant enough for both the squirrels and to save for the birds. Congrats on an informative and fun Hub of the Day!

    • profile image

      Kate 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the info, love sunflowers. So gorgeous and tasty!

    • GiftsByDiana profile image

      Diana Burrell-Shipton 

      3 years ago from Hubbard, Ohio, USA

      My kids loved watching these grow, but had to be fast or else the birds and squirrels... would get the seeds first - LOL

    • kevin murphy-87 profile imageAUTHOR

      kevin murphy 

      3 years ago from Ireland

      Wow thanks everyone! I'm overwhelmed with the positive feedback and I'm glad I rekindled some love for these beautiful flowers.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 

      3 years ago from Florida

      Hi,

      I love Sunflowers they are one of my favorite flowers to write poems about.

      I enjoyed this hub so much I am going to tweet it to my followers. You have a great day and enjoy sharing your hub with others.

      Bobbi Purvis

    • Laura335 profile image

      Laura Smith 

      3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      I saw a lot of people growing sunflowers this year. I don't like cracking open the seeds, but my dad does. I might grow some for him next year. Thanks!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Congratulations for getting HOTD!

      Beautiful pictures and a well done hub. Sunflower has so many benefits that it would be great to grow them as per your instructions.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 

      3 years ago from United States

      Sun flowers do have a sunny disposition. Well done. whonu

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      3 years ago from the short journey

      Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this neat look at growing sunflowers and using the seeds! My 7 year old grandson learned about growing sunflowers this year so your post made me smile at how he what he learned will benefit him in the future. :)

    • SAQIB6608 profile image

      SAQIB 

      3 years ago from HYDERABAD PAKISTAN

      Congrats on beong HoTD.

      Great images of Sunflowers. I read so many adv of Sunflowers from your hub.

      Regards

      SAQIB

    • lisavollrath profile image

      Lisa Vollrath 

      3 years ago from Euless, Texas

      I love growing sunflowers in my garden! We often grow Mammoths, which only put out one enormous bloom, but they are well worth the effort. They attract birds, bees, and butterflies. We save a few seeds when harvesting the sunflower heads, and throw them down the next year.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 

      3 years ago

      Growing sunflower seeds sounds cool but I have never been able to make it work. The bugs took over this year.

    • kevin murphy-87 profile imageAUTHOR

      kevin murphy 

      3 years ago from Ireland

      Thank you mySuccess. I can't believe I got hub of the day. I'm so happy!

    • mySuccess8 profile image

      mySuccess8 

      3 years ago

      Very well-explained article, with nice photos and video, on how to grow and care for the magnificent sunflower for beauty, as well as to be harvested for seeds. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

    • kevin murphy-87 profile imageAUTHOR

      kevin murphy 

      3 years ago from Ireland

      Thank you Rachael. I'm not a very good cook but I know there's a lot you can do with the seeds. I just snack on them.

    • Rachael Tate profile image

      Rachael Tate 

      3 years ago from England

      I grow them with my daughter and I never actually thought about harvesting the seeds before. I shall be doing this next year! Marked up, useful and funny based upon the rabbit story!

    • kevin murphy-87 profile imageAUTHOR

      kevin murphy 

      3 years ago from Ireland

      your welcome cheryl. :)

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 

      3 years ago from West Virginia

      I'm planning on growing sunflowers in the garden next year. Thanks for your helpful tips.

    • kevin murphy-87 profile imageAUTHOR

      kevin murphy 

      3 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks guys, thanks for the feedback. :)

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 

      3 years ago from Malaysia

      We have sun all year round here, but I don't see many gardens with sunflowers. I see a lot of bougainvillea and lately frangipani. Maybe people are lazy and want plants that will grow and bloom without much effort and with low maintenance. I too, started to grow sunflower when I was young and that was because it was part of the school's project. I loved it so much that I replanted it all the time. Now you got me thinking and I will start this again. Thanks for sharing and reminding me.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I will do this next summer too; don't know why I didn't think to do that. Would be great for the birds too!

    • kevin murphy-87 profile imageAUTHOR

      kevin murphy 

      3 years ago from Ireland

      Good stuff billy. I plan to grow more myself next year and try different varieties.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's on our to-do list for next summer. Somehow we forgot to plant this this year and have been kicking ourselves all summer long.

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