Q. How do I save sunflower seeds for re-sowing next year?
You can begin by harvesting the sunflower seeds as soon as the center flowers turn brown or the backs of the heads turn yellow. Cut them, leaving a piece of stem by which you can hang them in a well ventilated place to finish drying (away from squirrels and birds). Place a container under the seed head to catch seeds as they dry. When the head is completely dry, remove it to a table and run your hand over the head. The seeds should just fall out. If necessary, you can wash the seeds in a sieve to remove any debris. Let the seeds dry in the sieve and then place them on a large sheet of paper to dry completely. Store them in an airtight container in a cool place or in the refrigerator.
You can also save sunflower seeds by allowing them to dry on the stalks, but you’ll have to cover them to keep birds from eating them before you can get to them! Wrap the heads with a brown paper bag (not plastic) and tie the bag in place with string. As they dry, some seeds will fall into the bag. Harvest the rest as described above.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service