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How To Harvest Sunflower Seeds

Updated on February 24, 2010

Sunflowers are a backyard favorite to home gardeners. They are easy to grow, produce huge beautiful flowers, require little maintenance, and best of all provide a delicious snack! Sunflowers can be grown as perennials in warmer climates or as annuals in cooler zones. They thrive in just about any type of soil, and have an extremely rapid growth rate. The seeds are ready to harvest when the plant has fully matured. You will know when it is time to harvest your sunflower seeds when you see the following signs:

  • The back of the sunflower head is brown and dry.
  • The seeds are black and white striped, and quite plump.
  • The once-yellow pedals have begun to turn brown, and fall to the ground.

Okay, so now you know your seeds are ripe and ready to pick! Harvesting them is a breeze. Just follow these steps and you'll be snacking on the freshest seeds around!

  1. Cut your flower. You want to cut the flower head off while leaving 12" or so of stem connected to it.
  2. Allow the sunflower head to dry. If you choose to let it dry outdoors, you must protect your seeds from birds. This can be done by wrapping the head in a paper or fabric bag. If you choose to dry the flower head indoors, you will need to hang the head upside down in a dry and well ventilated location. Wrap the sunflower head with a clean nylon stocking, or tie a bag below it to catch any seeds that may fall as it hangs to dry.
  3. Extract the sunflower seeds. Once the seeds have dried, it is time to remove them from the flower head. Simply rub your hand over the head and the seeds will begin to fall. I recommend you allow them to fall into a large bowl or bag placed below.
  4. Enjoy! The sunflower seeds are now ready to eat or feed to the birds. Some people like to roast them, bake them, brine them, etc. That depends upon personal taste. Personally, I enjoy them just as they are.


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      Kelly Anne 7 years ago

      I,ve been hooke on sunflower seeds since I was a little kid. I remember walking to the corner store and buying the small bag of David sunflower seeds for a dime. Now I buy the big bags and go through about a bag a day. It would be fun to grow my own sunflowers and harvest, roast, and eat the seeds. I'll consider trying it this summer. I'm also considering growing peanuts, but I'm not sure if that is possible here in Philadelphia. Does anyone know how many frost free days are needed to grow peanuts?