Sunflowers are grown for many reasons not least for the competition among families or with neighbors to see who can grow the tallest. Of course they can be grown just because we find the flowers attractive and when harvest time comes they produce a great crop of seeds which can be used in many different ways. I found this article by Amanda from the American Meadows blog which includes step-by-step instructions on how to harvest the seeds and then use them for planting, roasting or feeding the birds.

Sunflowers are a staple of the summer garden. They are tall and regal, looking down at the rest of the flowers and offering a source of food and nectar to any pollinator who stops by. Also a delight for the gardener, their grandiose blooms make a cheerful statement in almost any sunny spot. At the end of the season, it’s easy to harvest sunflower seeds to dry for re-planting, baking up for a tasty snack and re-purposing into suet cakes to feed back to the birds in the winter months.

Harvest Sunflower Seeds: Field of Sunflowers
Sunflowers are ready to harvest when their foliage turns yellow, the petals die down and the seeds look plump.

Harvest Sunflower Seeds: Cutting

This is undoubtedly the easiest and quickest part of the process. Once your sunflowers have died back completely and the backs of the blooms are brown, it?s time to harvest. You?ll also notice the seeds are plump and somewhat loose. Cut the stalk with sharp scissors or pruners, about one foot down from the flower head, and place in a container that can catch any loose seeds.

Harvest Sunflower Seeds: Cutting the stalks
Cut the sunflower stalk about a foot below the bloom.

Harvest Sunflower Seeds: Hanging To Dry

Harvest Sunflower Seeds: drying

If you’re worried about the birds eating all of your sunflower seeds before you get the chance to harvest, tie a paper bag over the blooms right in the garden. You can also cut the stalks before they are ready and hang them indoors to dry.

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