This is your step-by-step tutorial on sunflower seed saving. Watch the video below to learn how to identify immature or rotten seeds to avoid wasting your time next season or spoiling your seed supply.
Leave Flower On The Plant
If possible, I like to leave the heads of the sunflowers on the plant itself to fully mature and dry out. This allows the seeds to fully mature. Once the heads are crispy and the seeds are well formed they are ready for harvesting and seed saving.
This year, the birds and the squirrels were really giving me a run for my money. So every time one of the flower heads started to die back and started to dry out even just a little bit, I harvested it and I threw it in a bowl to finish drying. I was actually doubtful that I would be able to get any seeds harvested this year.
If you have pulled the sunflower heads off of the plant early like I did. Allow for a minimum two weeks or so to dry out completely. Harvesting seeds from flower heads of any kind is always a lot easier when it is dried out and it’s not sticky.
How To Tell The Seeds Are Ready
When you have a nice dried head. The seeds are fully formed and you flip the head over and gently start to peel open the flower the seeds will start falling out fairly easily. This confirms they are ready for harvest and mature.
In some cases the seeds will not be mature yet if you harvest them from the plant too early. They will not germinate for you. You will know this by the fact that the seeds will feel hollow when pulled out of the flower. Also the seeds will not come over very easily on their own.
If you see mold of any kind, discard that head to the compost. Mold can happen when the head is harvested too early. The sunflower still has too much moisture in it and did not dry properly.
Even though I harvested lots of heads earlier than I should have to try and beat the birds and the squirrels, I did still manage to get quite a few seeds for next season. Any sunflowers seeds that you can save for next season is a win. You save money when you don’t have to buy seeds. You also know you have a variety that does well enough to mature in your growing zone.
Seed Storage Tips
Once you have removed the dried and ready seeds from their pods be sure to store them in a cool, dry and dark place. You want to store your seeds in a space that is the opposite to what plants needs for growth. This will ensure high germination next gardening season.