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Gray Vs. Black Sunflower Seeds for Sprouting

By Suzanne Richmond ; Updated September 21, 2017
This type of sunflower produces black seeds.
sunflower and sunflower seeds image by Andrey Chmelyov from Fotolia.com

Sunflower seed sprouts are highly nutritious and contain Vitamin E, calcium, zinc, potassium, magnesium and amino acids. The thin shells of the black sunflower seeds are easier to remove than the hulls on larger gray sunflower seeds. The sprouting process increases the enzymes, minerals and nutrients in either seed by 300 percent to 1,200 percent, according to an article by Vegetarians in Paradise.

Oil Content

Black sunflower seeds contain more Vitamin E than gray sunflower seeds.
sunflower seeds image by Yury Shirokov from Fotolia.com

Black sunflower seeds are referred to as "black oil" because they produce 40 to 45 percent of their total weight in oil. Oil from black sunflower seeds has the highest amount of Vitamin E, while gray seeds, which are used for snack food, supply less than half as much oil and so not as much vitamin E, according to "Organic Gardening" magazine.

Black Hulls

Gray sunflower seed hulls are thick and more difficult to germinate.
sunflower seeds3 image by Bradlee Mauer from Fotolia.com

Sunflower seed hulls are shed as the leaves begin to unfurl from the shell during the sprouting process. The thin hulls of the black sunflower seeds soak up water readily, are easy to remove during rinsing, and germinate quickly.

Gray Hulls

Sunflower hulls are visible on these sprouts.
sunflower germs image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com

Gray sunflower seed hulls are thicker and take a bit more force to open, therefore taking a little more time than the black-seeded types. Hulls are removed from the sprouts before eating. Hulls from either gray- or black-seeded types are edible, but they will alter the taste and texture of the recipe in which they are used, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Plant Growth Habits

Mammoth Russian sunflowers can reach a diameter of 16 inches.
sunflower image by Stanisa Martinovic from Fotolia.com

Gray-striped sunflower seeds comes from a variety known as Mammoth Russian. Their flowers are up to 16 inches across and they grow to 12 feet tall with high yields of seeds for sprouting. The black-seeded sunflower variety known as Dove Hybrid comes from a plant that grows to 5 feet tall, with seed heads to 12 inches in diameter. Either of these varieties can be grown in the home garden and seeds can be harvested for sprouting.

Sprouting Differences

Due to their tougher seed hull, gray-striped sunflower seeds are easier to grow when sprouted in a jar then planted when root tip emerges from the seed. Plant them in a shallow pan of soil or worm castings. They are clipped for greens when two leaves have grown. Black sunflower seeds can be grown in this manner or can be sprouted in a jar placed in a dark area for four days and rinsed every 12 hours. The hulls will fall off in the rinse water.


About the Author


Suzanne Richmond is an avid gardener and small farmer who resides in Melbourne, Fla. She is an avid Central Florida vegetable gardener and has developed a self-watering container called a Growbox. She writes gardening- and poultry-related articles for Examiner.com, GardenGuides and Answerbag.