Can You Grow Sunflowers From The Sunflower Seeds You Eat? (Explained)

Can you grow sunflowers from sunflower seeds

This is actually an extremely common question: “Can You Grow Sunflowers From The Sunflower Seeds You Eat?”.

After all, sunflowers are one of the most popular flowers, grown across the globe, and sunflower seeds are a nutritious snack that is eaten worldwide.

So it makes sense that people are asking this question.

Many people looking to brighten up their garden with a low-maintenance, easy-to-grow flower and wonder if they can grow sunflowers from edible sunflower seeds.

So let’s find out.

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Can You Grow Sunflowers From The Sunflower Seeds You Eat? 

Yes, you can grow sunflowers from the sunflower seeds you eat, but they won’t grow from most store-bought seeds as these seeds are roasted and salted. If you want to grow sunflowers from the seeds of a sunflower, look for fresh, unsalted and unroasted sunflowers seeds, which are usually found in a health store and are also edible.


1: You Can’t Grow Sunflowers From Most Store-Bought Sunflower Seeds


So first things first you generally won’t be able to grow sunflowers from most store-bought sunflower seeds, ie the kind that if you fancied a snack you might buy.

The reason for this is these sunflower seeds usually have been roasted and salted. Roasting kills the tiny plant embryo and salting generally stops any chance of growing a sunflower from the seed too.

Store-bought seeds have nearly all been dehulled and dehulled seeds won’t grow either.

In short, if a sunflower seed has been roasted and salted, it is dead.


2: But You Can Grow Sunflowers From Some Edible Seeds


Sunflower seeds

If you are looking to grow sunflowers from edible seeds then ideally you need to look for raw sunflower seeds with their shells left on.

The most common place to find these seeds is in a health food store.

These seeds are fresh, unsalted and unroasted and your best bet for growing sunflowers from seed.

The seed will be encased in a black and white striped cell, with the seed itself being white.

And yes you can also eat these sunflower seeds raw, they are characterised by a distinctly nutty flavor.


3: You Can Also Grow Sunflowers From Bird Seed


Sunflower seeds are usually one of the ingredients in bird seed mix. 

As they tend not to have been overly processed when used in bird seed mix, there is a good chance you will be able to grow sunflowers from them.

What you will also notice about sunflower seeds in bird seed mix is that they are usually quite small.

This means that any corresponding sunflowers plants that might grow from these seeds are also likely to be quite small, but with many more flowers in comparison to sunflowers commonly sold in nurseries.

So the sunflowers that will grow from bird seed are quite different but no less attractive.

But if you are looking to grow the tallest sunflower in your neighborhood then you are unlikely to achieve this by using sunflower seeds from bird seed mix.


4: You Can Grow Sunflowers For The Edible Seeds


Most people grow sunflowers for their vibrant blossoms and excellent cut flowers, but you can also grow them for the edible seeds.

To do this when you buy the seed from a nursery look specifically for ‘confection varieties’.

There tend to be two types of confection varieties – short and tall. 

Short types have fewer seeds but the seeds are large. These varieties include Super Snack Mix, Snack Seed and Royal Hybrid.

Tall varieties have more seeds, but they are small. They include Titan, Mammoth Grey Stripe and Hopi Black Dye.


5: To Grow Sunflowers From Seed Make Sure You Follow Some Simple Guidelines


Follow a few simple instructions (as outlined below and in the video above) and your garden can be the home of some beautiful sunflowers.

When you are planting sunflowers outdoors, make sure you plant them around two weeks before the last expected frost date. 

Generally, this will be early March to mid-May, but always check the seed packet.

Sunflowers can also be started indoors, but be careful not to start them too soon as you may stunt their growth. 

If you are starting them indoors, start them around three or four weeks earlier than if you are growing them outdoors.

Once they reach around 30cm (12 inches) in height, you can move them outside.

Make sure sunflower plants are at least a foot apart to give them room to grow properly.

Sunflowers are pretty hardy plants, but the main thing to remember is they don’t like waterlogged soil so make sure you have good drainage and make sure they are exposed to around six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day.

Also, sunflowers can be easily damaged by strong winds, so if you live in a windy region it is worth growing them where they are offered some protection. Against a wall or fence for example.

If you notice the leaves of your sunflower turning yellow or brown there may be something wrong, so make sure you take prompt action.

Sunflowers take around 80 to 120 days to mature and develop seeds.


Final Thoughts


The question ‘can you grow sunflowers from the seeds of a sunflower?’ has quite a simple answer – yes!

But note that if you are buying sunflower seeds to snack on from a store, you can’t expect these to flourish if planted in the ground.

They will have been treated, usually roasted and salted, a process that kills the seed.

Buy natural sunflower seed from a health store, check the outer shell is present, and you should be able to grow it if you look after it properly.

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