Harvesting Sunflowers

Harvesting sunflowers for arrangements. Cutting and drying sunflowers. Harvesting sunflower seeds. Growing sunflower petals for use in salads.



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There are many reasons to harvest sunflowers. You can use the cut flowers in a sunflower bouquet. Or, maybe you want to preserve a little of your summer garden by drying a few sunflowers to brighten the dismal winter months. Or perhaps you just want to eat the seeds.

Whatever the reason, here's how to harvest sunflowers to get the most out of them.

Cutting Sunflowers

Harvesting sunflowers, bloom just opening.

Pollenless sunflower varieties are best for cutting as they won't drop pollen (which can stain) on your home furnishings.

There are three stages at which a sunflower can be cut.

  1. When the buds have matured and are ready to open. You can see the color of the petals, but you can't see the center at this stage.

  2. Two or three days after the flowers reach the first stage. Now the flowers are beginning to open. You can see the centers. Harvest sunflowers for drying at this stage as they will continue to open as they dry.

  3. In another day or two you will get your final opportunity to cut the sunflowers. This is the fully open stage. Don't bother cutting sunflowers beyond the day they fully open. They won't last.

Flowers cut at the first stage will, of course, last longest in a vase. But you could make a very pretty arrangement using all three stages.

Whole, unopened sunflower flower buds can be harvested and steamed like artichokes.


When To Harvest Sunflowers?

Pollenless Sunflower, Cutting Mix 1 Pkt. (25 seeds)

Cut the flowers in late morning or early afternoon. Use a sharp knife to avoid crushing the stems and strip off the bottom leaves. Place them immediately into a bucket of water.

The more they drink, the faster they will open. Warmth also causes sunflowers to open more quickly. Your finished arrangement will last longer in your air conditioned dining room than it would out on your sun porch.

You can harvest sunflowers for cut flower arrangements at any time during the growing season.

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

Buy Sunflower, Super Snack Mix Hybrid 1 Pkt. (40 seeds)

When harvesting sunflower seeds, wait until the disk in the center of the bloom has turned dark brown and begun to dry.

As the seed head dries it will shrink loosening the seeds. You can remove the flowers before they reach this stage and bring them indoors to dry out of the reach of birds.

Once the seeds have loosened a bit, you can remove them by rubbing two flowers together or by rubbing your palm across the center of the flower.



How to Roast Sunflower Seeds

Delight Your Kids. Plant a Sunforest, 1 Pkt.(100 seeds)"

You can roast sunflower seeds briefly in the oven or eat the kernels raw. Remember to save a few for next year's crop.

Spread the sunflower kernels on a cookie sheet and pop them into a 220 degree oven for 10 minutes or so. You can roast shelled sunflower seeds or leave the hulls on. Sprinkle the seeds with salt while they are still warm.

The Grey Stripe sunflower is one of the best types of sunflowers to grow for seed production. But any of the giant sunflowers will produce large, easy-to-eat seeds.

Sunflower Petals

"Sunflower, Mammoth Organic 1 Pkt. (20 seeds)"

Sunflower petals are slightly bittersweet. The fresh petals can be sprinkled atop salads.

The dried petals can be stored in jars for later use as a food coloring or natural dye.

Harvest the petals just after the flowers open.

Only ingest the flowers of unsprayed plants.

Drying Sunflowers

Pollenless Sunflowers, Fun 'N Sun Mix Hybrid 1 Pkt. (35 seeds)

When harvesting sunflowers to preserve by drying, hang them upside down by their stems in a dry, dim, airy place. Group them in small bunches and twist a rubber band around the stems to keep the groups together.

I have heard that drizzling the center with super glue will keep the seeds from falling out, but I've never tried it.




Growing Sunflowers Tips
Tips for growing, drying, and harvesting sunflowers.

Harvesting Basil
You can continue harvesting basil right up until frost if you don't intend to save seed.

Perennial Sunflowers
Enhance your garden with sunflowers you can plant once and enjoy for years.

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