Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Compost Sunflower Stalks

sunflower image by Lucid_Exposure from

As the growing season ends and garden clean up begins, perhaps the spent sunflower stalks are eyed with disinterest because there is no apparent value in their long and sturdy stalks. Take another look with the compost bin in mind. Using sunflower stalks to form the base of a compost pile will provide beneficial aeration to allow the compost to breathe within the materials.

Cut off the sunflower stalks at the soil level using lopper shears.

Choose a spot for the compost heap that receives full sunlight. Place a wooden palette in this spot.

Cut the sunflower stalks so they are as long as the dimensions of the wooden palette. Make each sunflower stalk the same length so the stalks can be crisscrossed on the palette to create the foundation of the compost heap, assuming the palette is a square,

Place the sunflower stalks onto the wooden palette. Lay the stalks across the palette in one direction, spacing them approximately 4 inches apart. Then lay the stalks across the palette in the opposite direction, spacing them the same distance. Create a 4-inch-high layer of sunflower stalks.

Add a 12-inch-high layer of grass and leaves directly over the sunflower stalks.

Place ¼ of an inch of topsoil over the grass and leaves, spreading it evenly.

Add another layer of sunflower stalks in the same fashion, except make this layer 2 inches high. Add another layer of grass and leaves, making this layer half as high (6 inches) as the first layer. Add a second ¼-inch layer of top soil.

Repeat Step 7 to make the compost heap as high as you desire.

Sunflower Stalks

On quiet winter evenings spent studying seed catalogs, and even when popping perky sunflower seeds into the ground in spring, visions of cheery yellow, orange and even red sunflowers dance in people’s heads. As it turns out, sunflower stalks can be put to many practical uses. Or build rustic ladder-style garden trellises. At summer’s end, cut spent stalks off at the ground and then dry for several days in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Come winter when songbirds are hungry, move it out near your bird feeder and plant it in the ground (supported with wires as needed). You can also grind them up to compost directly.)

Garden Guides