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Beginner Gardening: How to harvest sunflower seeds

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Forum: Beginner GardeningReplies: 9, Views: 57
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September 22, 2012
5:41 PM

Post #9283406

We had terrific luck for the 1st time with our sunflowers. My hubby wants to harvest seeds from these 13 footers. They have flowered, browned and are drying out on the stalks. What do we do next?
Homeworth, OH
(Zone 5b)

September 22, 2012
5:47 PM

Post #9283414

They just need to dry, and u can harvest them. The tricky part is keeping the birds, and other critters from eating the seeds. A dry sheltered spot is needed such as a garage. After they dry u can pull the seeds from the heads and store them in an envelope in the fridge.


Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

September 23, 2012
8:35 AM

Post #9283865

I think she meant to remove the seed heads to the garage, not sure about that. Some folx use nylon pantyhose to protect the drying seeds while still outside, 13'! Which sunflowers did you plant?
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

September 24, 2012
2:05 AM

Post #9284551

If the sun flowers have reached the stage where the flowers have turned BROWN, then you can cut the flowering STEMS about 12 inches long, be careful not to knock the flower heads off at this stage.
Give the flowers and stems a gentle shake to make sure you don't have any bugs, tiny flies, or ear-wigs hiding inside the tightly formed flowers, (ear-wigs are long thin insects FAST on their feet, They have ting pincher's at the tail end) I always lay any outdoor flowers onto newspaper at this helps the insects (IF any) to come out.
Next step is to hang the flowers upside down in a warm place (not hot) close to an airing cupboard would be the temp required.
I wait till the stems look quite dry then, place paper bag over the flowers and lightly tie to prevent the bag dropping off, any seeds will drop into the bag, once all the seeds have dropped, place them into PAPER envelope, date, name and fold the envelope and store in dark cool place and must be kept dry.

The fastest way is to leave the plants alone but cover the flowers with paper bag or mesh cotton, ladies hose as mentioned,anything that is not plastic as it will cause mould and dampness to rot the seed-head's.
When the flower heads look like they are dry / dead, cut off, take indoors and with a pair of ladies tweezers, prick out as many seeds as you feel you will need for next year, to recognise the seeds, hold the flowers in your hand, gently rub both your thumbs across the center of the flowers and you should separate the seed pods, even easier to do when the flowers have dried.
Good luck, WeeNel.


Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

September 24, 2012
5:41 AM

Post #9284646

Thanx WeeNel! Couldn't remember how to do the whole thing, chuckl
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

September 24, 2012
11:09 AM

Post #9284968

Your more than welcome, let's hope you manage to get all the seeds you will need for next years sunflower crop.
By the way, the same method is used for many seed drying or gathering, so look out, you just may become addicted to collecting your seeds or growing many more plants from seed.
Best regards WeeNel.

September 28, 2012
7:13 PM

Post #9289417

Thank you all! I was thinking about harvesting the seeds to eat actually. But having them for next year is wonderful. Is there anything extra to do for seeds that are going to be planted next year ? New in gardening. :-)
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

October 1, 2012
10:39 AM

Post #9292279

To keep the seeds in a condition for replanting Next year, the best way and most reliable way is to separate the seeds from the chaff, the chaff so called because it is waste is easy to get rid off, what you do is: after you have collected all the seeds by either rubbing gently to loosen from the flower head, pick of with tweezers if large seeds, or gently shake seeds away from flower heads or inside pod if very fine seeds, being careful place all the same type if seeds onto an A4 sheet of paper or news paper if easier, then carefully but firmly, blow onto the seeds and you will see bits of small bits of old petal, outer skin of seed pods ect, this chaff is much lighter in weight than the seeds so this CHAFF will blow and leave your seeds on the paper, DON'T over do the blowing tho or you could send your very small seeds all over the floor ha, ha, ha.
After you separate the seeds from the Chaff, you then pour the seeds into either small air-tight containers and label, date, name and store this either in a drawer in a cool place NOT freezing cold, but make sure it is dry too. I usually put the PLANTING date / Month onto the seed storage too or I forget where on when I did buy and plant the seeds..
I know there are folks who with other types of seeds that require frost or freezing to get some seeds to germinate but am afraid I dont ever go there as my winters are cold enough that I can put the seeds into compost and place the pots against a wall of the house / garage and the cold weather does the rest, come spring I bring the pots out from that position and place them in warmer areas till germination, this method is for the likes of Delphiniums ect so If I were you, I would stick to the easier type of seeds till you gain confidence or more experience which we all had to learn.
Good luck and enjoy your gardening. WeeNel.
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

October 1, 2012
10:47 AM

Post #9292289

Hi Kittriana, you talk about memory blanks, well I've just realised Mjazz29 wanted to keep the seeds for eating well, My memory problem is wee senior moments where as you probably have too much on your mind and that's so different from me ha, ha, ha.
But your welcome and no thanks required honestly.
Best regards, WeeNel.

October 3, 2012
10:00 PM

Post #9295357

Not every seed you sow bursts into a plant, so you must take care that you buy good quality seeds, otherwise your flower garden will not look as attractive as you want.

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