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Sunflower Seeds: Know How to Plant, Harvest, Cook

Angela, though not a natural green thumb, has studied gardening in order to better care for her yard.


How To Plant Sunflower Seeds

Sunflowers are reasonably easy to grow. Early spring is an ideal time to plant their seeds to optimize the best height and growth, although it is important to wait until the last frost to protect any new seedlings. Perennial sunflowers grow about two feet tall, while annuals can reach as high as eight feet. The maximum height depends greatly on the weather and how well it is cared for.

  • Choose a spot in your garden where the flowers will get plenty of sun.
  • They do best with at least six hours of sun. The shade is not essential. Therefore they can get continual sun without harming them.
  • They also need lots of water, especially early on in the growing season.
  • Pay close attention to what the packet says for how far apart you should plant the flowers, as each type of sunflower varies.
  • Composting will help give the ideal well-fertilized soil for sunflowers to grow.
  • Plant the seeds at least two inches into the soil. Having soil well-tilled is vital to help roots grow deep.

Sunflower Seeds

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

1 hour

30 min

1 hour 30 min

Many snack sizes


  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • sunflower seeds, unhusked
  • 1 tsp butter or olive oil
  • 2 Tbs dry seasoning, of your choice

How To Harvest and Flavor Sunflower Seeds

  1. After you harvest sunflower seeds, rinse thoroughly to get rid of dirt and debris. The best way to do this is to put sunflower seeds in a deep pot, then scoop the sunflower seeds out. The sunflowers will rise to the top; debris and dirt will go to the bottom. Also, damaged sunflower seeds often will sink as well.
  2. Then, sift through the seeds to rid of any damaged ones. Flat sunflower seeds or ones with holes in them are not suitable for eating.
  3. Place sunflowers in a large bowl or pot, add water and salt, then let them soak for 1 hour. If you would like a deeper flavor, you may soak them overnight.
  4. Once soaked with saltwater, place on a paper towel to dry.
  5. Grease the pan or cookie sheet with oil or butter.
  6. Place the sunflower seeds in a pan.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes at 300 degrees, occasionally stirring to prevent browning.
  8. Once baked, you can place two cups of warm sunflower seeds in a plastic bag with a tsp of olive oil or butter and coat them with seasonings, such as salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic. Any flavoring that tastes great on popcorn will taste great on sunflower seeds. Then shake the bag to maximize full coverage of sunflower seeds.
  9. Then let them cool and enjoy!

10 Fun Facts About Sunflower Seeds

  1. Sunflower seeds are highly beneficial for your heart, immune system, bones, and skin because it is high in Vitamin E. Vitamin E is critical in preventing cardiovascular disease and protects our skin from ultraviolet rays. It is also an anti-inflammatory, which helps prevent inflammation that asthma, arthritis, or bowel disease causes.
  2. It helps calm our nerves, encourages bone growth, and prevents bone loss due to a healthy amount of magnesium.
  3. Sunflowers are a thousand tiny flowers. Each of the individual yellow petals and fuzzy brown centers inside the blossom or head are individual flowers. There can be up to 2,000 individual flowers called ray florets inside a sunflower bloom. It is these that develop the seeds themselves.
  4. There are two types of sunflower seeds; oilseeds, which birds eat, and non-oilseeds, which humans eat. The Oilseeds are the ones used to feed birds, but not humans. They get their name because they can be crushed to extract sunflower oil, used for cooking, skincare, and medicines.
  5. Sunflowers are native to North America and were first grown over 5,000 years ago.
  6. There are 70 species of sunflowers. They can be different shapes, colors, and different heights. The shortest ones are called dwarfs and grow in a cluster.
  7. Not all sunflowers are yellow. Some are red, orange, and purple.
  8. The tallest sunflower ever recorded grew in Germany in the summer of 2014 to be 30 feet tall and is stated in the Guinness Book of World Records.
  9. Sunflowers follow the sun. In the morning, the blossoms will face east and continue to face the sun as it travels west. Although when the sunflower is getting close to its full bloom, the plant becomes too heavy and remains facing east.
  10. They absorb toxins and were used to absorb a spill in Japan after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident by planting millions in that area. This is why it is good to grow in your garden, to purify the soil of toxins.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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© 2013 Angela Michelle Schultz


Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on August 09, 2015:

I love sunflowers, but I never had the seeds before. I would love to give it a go. Voted up for useful. Lovely photos!

Dianna Mendez on February 02, 2013:

Sunflowers seeds are a really good healthy snack and I love the taste when they are flavored with something spicy. Good post and very well done.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on January 30, 2013:

I love sunflower seeds, and the flowers are very pretty and cheery. Good hub! If I had a yard I would definitely think of growing some.

idigwebsites from United States on January 29, 2013:

I love sunflowers, they make me cheery every time I see them. I also munch on sunflower seeds. Thanks for the recipe. Up, useful and a following :)

RTalloni on January 29, 2013:

I'm putting "Start Sunflower Seeds" on my March calendar right now--thanks for the reminder, and for the recipe!

carol stanley from Arizona on January 29, 2013:

Great photos and very interesting...I use sunflower seeds all the time in cooking.

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