Harvesting sunflowers for arrangements. Cutting and drying sunflowers. Harvesting sunflower seeds. Growing sunflower petals for use in salads.
Whatever the reason, here's how to harvest sunflowers to get the most out of them.
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.
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?
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
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
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 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.
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.