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How to Grow, Harvest & Prepare Sunflower Seeds

Sunflowers range in size from 1-foot dwarfs to 10-foot giants. The large, mammoth varieties are among the best for roasting and eating. Harvest sunflower heads in the fall when they are fully mature, and the seeds filled out and dry.
  1. Growing

    • Sunflowers need full sun and well-drained soil enriched with composted manure or 10-10-10 fertilizer. Plant the seeds directly in the garden two weeks after the last frost. Cover the seeds with an inch of soil and space them according to the packet instructions. Maintain a weed-free bed and water during dry spells.


    • Flower heads are mature when they face downward, and the back of the flower turns lemon yellow in color. To protect them from birds, cover the flower heads with a paper sack secured with a twist tie or wrap them in cheesecloth. When the seeds are dry and rub off easily, cut the flower head.


    • Make a brine of 2 qts. of water and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salt. Soak the seeds overnight in the brine. Drain the seeds and dry them on paper towels. Place them in a shallow baking pan and roast them for 30 to 40 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring occasionally. After removing the seeds from the oven, add a teaspoon of butter and salt to taste. Stir to coat the seeds.