How to Save Sunflower Seeds for Growing


Sunflowers are one of the most enjoyable sights of summer, loved by gardeners, passersby and even feathered friends. If you have a sunflower crop that you are particularly fond of, you can save some seeds from that crop to plant in next year's garden, or to pass on to a friend or family member. It is a simple process and the results are well worth the little time it takes.

Step 1

Wait for the sunflower heads to begin to dry on the stalk. Signs of this will be the yellowing of the back of the sunflower head and the drooping of the head due to the weight of the seeds.

Step 2

Harvest your sunflower seeds on a dry day, in the late morning after the dew is no longer on the plants or seeds.

Step 3

Cut the sunflower heads from the stalk using your pruning shears. Be sure to cut at least 12 inches of stalk with the head so you have something to attach a string to for drying.

Step 4

Open a paper bag and place your sunflower heads down into the bag. The number of heads you put in per bag will depend upon the size of the sunflower heads. Giant sunflower heads should be limited to one per bag to promote good airflow. Tie a string around the bag at the neck of the sunflower.

Step 5

Tie a string around the stem of the sunflower and hang it to dry in a warm, dry area for 10 days. Any loose sunflower seeds will fall into the bag. Be sure to hang the bag where squirrels and rodents can't get to them.

Step 6

Take the sunflowers down at the end of 10 days. Open the bags and brush the seeds off the sunflower head while holding the head over the bag so that all seeds drop down into it.

Step 7

Lay a window screen on a counter top. You should have good airflow underneath the screen, so you may need to elevate 1 to 2 inches. To do this, place a 1- to 2-inch block underneath each corner. Children's letter blocks work well.

Step 8

Spread the seeds out on the screen in an even layer and allow them to dry for three days. If you have to worry about rodents or mice getting to the open seeds, place a small fan where it can blow on them and leave them on the counter for 14 hours instead of three days without the fan.

Step 9

Sort the seeds and remove any debris. Transfer the dry seeds to a paper envelope, and only fill the envelope 1/3 of the way.

Step 10

Store the envelope in a sealed glass or plastic container so rodents and insects cannot get to them. Store the container in a cool area.

Tips and Warnings

  • Any moisture in the sunflower seeds will cause them to mold and rot and can damage the entire harvest.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Paper bags
  • String or twine
  • Window screen
  • 4 blocks, 2 inch
  • Small fan, if necessary
  • Paper envelopes
  • Glass or plastic sealed container


  • The New Homemaker: Saving Seeds and Growing Heirloom Varieties
  • Oregon State University: Collecting and storing seeds from your garden

Who Can Help

  • International Seed Saving Institute: Basics of seed saving
Keywords: sunflower seeds, saving sunflower seeds, harvesting sunflower seeds

About this Author

A freelance writer for more than 12 years, Traci Vandermark has written extensively on health and fitness topics. She is a student of health, fitness and nutrition at the International Institute Of Holistic Healing, certified by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants. Her articles have appeared in Catskill Country Magazine, The Lookout Magazine, Capper's, Birds and Blooms and Country Discoveries, to name a few.