How to Cover Sunflower Plant Heads for Protection


Sunflowers are a gardener's favorite in both the flower and vegetable gardens. Coming in many sizes and shapes, this annual flower provides beauty and food for people and animals alike. Protecting a sunflower head that is nearly ready for harvesting means the difference between who gets to control the seed consumption--the gardener or the animals.

Step 1

Cover the sunflower seed head with a piece of cheesecloth when the flower petal "rays" have fallen off.

Step 2

Secure the cheesecloth lightly with a piece of twine around the stem below the head.

Step 3

Uncover the seed head periodically and check the green disc at its back, where the flower bloom is connected to the stem. The disk will turn from green to yellow to dark brown, at which point the sunflower is ready to harvest. To prevent birds and animals from picking at the seeds in the meantime, keep the seed head covered until ready.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never store sunflower seeds in airtight containers, as doing so promotes mold development. Store seeds in cheesecloth bags for best results. If you choose to leave seed heads on the stems for the birds to enjoy, rake spent hulls from the garden and yard. Contrary to popular belief, sunflower hulls do not contain any chemicals that are harmful to other plants--other plants die because they are smothered by the thick, stubborn mat created by dropped hulls.

Things You'll Need

  • Cheesecloth
  • Twine


  • UMN Extension Yard & Garden Brief: Sunflowers
  • Sunflower Guide: Drying and Harvesting Seeds

Who Can Help

  • National Sunflower Association
Keywords: sunflower seeds, collecting sunflower seed, cheesecloth cover for sunflower

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University, studying education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills, re-using, recycling, and re-inventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.