Food/ Green Living

How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

We grew sunflowers for the first time this year in our garden. I fell in love with having these cheery yellow giants waving in our yard. They brighten up the garden and add fun and warmth to the home when placed in a vase on the dining room table. What I didn’t know until this year is that sunflowers can be harvested for their seeds as well as their beautiful yellow flowers and it’s so easy to do!

How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

Once the flowers get droopy and the petals are drying up and falling off, remove the flower from the stalk. You can wait longer and let the seeds dry on the stalk but you will have to compete with the birds and squirrels for the precious seeds and the seeds can get moldy if it’s rainy or humid. So, I recommend removing the flowers for the drying process.

You’ll be able to see the rows of seeds beneath the flowery fuzz that is falling off as the flower dies. Put the flowers in a paper bag to dry in order to keep them from getting too moist. We dried one flower inside successfully and tried to dry several outside (because they had some insects crawling on them that we didn’t want to invite into the house). However, because it was rainy and muggy outside, the seeds on the flowers drying outside got a little moldy. Sad! But at least we had one flower we could successfully dry and we’ll know next time. So, learn from my mistake: I highly recommend putting the flowers in a warm, dry place!

We let ours dry for almost two weeks before harvesting the seeds and they were very easy to remove. Even my three-year-old was able to help. They pop right out if they are ready!

Just rinse and dry them on a paper towel or kitchen cloth and then you can roast them in the oven with salt and olive oil or butter. And be sure to save a few seeds to plant next year so you can have these beautiful flowers gracing your garden!

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  • Lisa Waszkiewicz / Franny Bolsa
    October 4, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Sunflowers are one thing I’ve never planted in my garden. No idea why. As soon as I read “roast with salt and olive oil” I decided we may just have to find a spot for a few next year. Gorgeous pics.

    • Haley
      October 6, 2012 at 9:18 PM

      Do it next year! They are such happy flowers 🙂

  • Stephanie
    September 2, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Hi. Did you close the paper bag or leave it open. Thanks!

    • Haley
      September 3, 2013 at 2:01 AM

      I left it open, Stephanie! This year, we harvested when the sunflowers were a bit dryer and were able to harvest the seeds right away and roast ’em up 🙂

  • Donna in NZ
    April 7, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    So my mistake is thinking I should dry them totally on the plant…this year thought they were looking a bit pale and looked again and saw that the birds had eaten all the seeds…thats why the seeds looked paler than they were… there weren’t any…LOL…you live and learn…thanks for the tip

  • Dierdre
    September 9, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Our sunflower was a gift from our chippies who feast on the seeds tossed out by the birds at the feeder. You BET we will be making this a new crop for next year. Now that I know how to retrieve the seeds, I am b going outside NOW to get the flower head. Thanks! and thanks to darling Carli for finding this pin!