How To Harvest Sunflower Seeds: Full Guide

Sunflower seeds are an amazing food that can be grown by anyone, anywhere. Even if you don’t have a yard or garden, you can grow sunflowers indoors on a sunny window sill.

Growing your own sunflowers is one of the simplest ways to start preparing for water shortages, economic collapse and other local disasters. Sunflowers are also a great source of nutrition and oil that will store well for decades under the right conditions. How To Harvest Sunflower Seeds: Full Guide.

How to Grow Sunflowers from Seed?

Start with good quality organic seeds from a reliable source. The best way to get them is to save them from last year’s harvest. If you didn’t grow any sunflowers last year, buy some high quality organic seeds from a local supplier.

Sunflower seeds need light to germinate, so you need to “nurse” them by placing several seeds in each pot and covering with only a half-inch of soil. Make sure the surface of the soil is wet before you place the seeds.

If you dry out the soil before planting they will not sprout. Place your pots in sunlight or under artificial lights and keep moist until sprouted, then water regularly after that. Full sun and hot weather will produce tall stalks earlier than potted plants kept indoors in cooler conditions.

How big do sunflowers get?

Sunflowers can grow over 14 feet tall if given enough room! You can expect 4 – 6 feet or more with potted plants, depending on variety.

Seed germination

Sunflowers are usually 90% plus germination rate when fresh seed is planted in warm conditions. Soaking seeds overnight in water before planting speeds germination. Plant your sunflower seeds about 1/4 – 1/2 inches deep and keep moist until they sprout.


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Many people have problem with damping off fungus attacking the tender new stems of their young plants so use extremely clean pots and avoid over-watering. If you see little bumps appearing at the soil surface – this is fungus or mold killing your seedlings!

Use fungicide if you have it, remove infected plants to prevent spread, or just do your best to keep things dry and airy.

Time to Harvest

Sunflowers will produce seeds for you in 65 – 100 days after sprouting. The head of the flower will start drying up as the seeds grow larger inside.

You can eat these nutritious heads right off the stalk or cut them and allow them to finish ripening indoors if you have a cool dry place to store them.

These giant heads are tough and can take some rough treatment, many people strip seed heads directly into buckets without cutting stems first, but you’ll get less seed this way because they tend to shake out during handling this way instead of falling cleanly into your bucket.

Sunflower Roots

When growing sunflowers potted it’s worth giving some thought to whether you will harvest all the seed. Some sunflowers will produce a second smaller set of flowers later if their first flowering stalk is harvested before seeds form, so you may want to leave one flower head on each potted plant as it dries and ripens. You can and should remove all other weeds and curb any grass that might compete for water or nutrients however!


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Sunflower Harvest

When you’re ready to collect your sunflower seeds pinch the center stalk on the ripened head with your thumb and forefinger until it breaks cleanly off the plant stem.

This will prevent birds from pulling out seeds as they dry further inside the head once they start falling down around it. Hold your dried seeded heads upside down over a bucket or storage bag and give them a few light shakes to free up any remaining seeds.

Be sure to keep the drying sunflower heads out of direct rain so they don’t rot, and plan ahead if you want to save your seeds for next year’s planting!

Sunflowers are self-seeding annuals which means they won’t come back unless their seeds remain in the soil at least one winter after sprouting.

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