Sunflower Beauties

Sunflowers are a favorite among gardeners. They are simple to grow, they aren't fussy and the fun doesn't end when the bloom dies. In fact, you could say it just begins!

I bought Mammoth Sunflower Seeds and planted them directly in the ground around May 1. (That's when its warm enough in Middle Tennessee to plant.) From there they grew and grew. I actually planted mine around a bamboo teepee. They don't have to be staked though.

It took a little while for the first buds to open and when they did, they were large and beautiful. After a few days the heavy heads drooped over. This is when the extra fun begins! I left the heads on the plant for as long as I could.

As the head matures, the yellow part (the disk flowers) start to fall off. Underneath those are the seeds. Yep, the ones you eat!

Birds may start pecking at your flowers at this point, and that's ok. They need food as well. We even saw a squirrel climbing the stem one day. Sunflowers are quite popular in the animal world!

At this point though, you can cut down the stem. The stem is quite thick, I had to use a handsaw. I cut it near the base and then again about a foot from the head. You can easily brush off the disk flowers (it's fun!) and you will see the seeds more clearly.

I then hung the head upside down to let the seeds finish maturing. Varieties will look a bit different but in the case of the mammoth sunflower, you want a little more black in the streaks.

There are several methods for this. One is to put it (upside down) in a paper bag and stick it out of the way. I put mine in the garage. BUT, I found my head started to mildew because not enough air was circulating. So I bought a $1.88 mesh garment bag (from Walmart) and moved it into the laundry room. This method worked the best. But given how humid it is here, this may depend on where you live.

After a few weeks they are ready! You can just brush the seeds off the head with your hand. Again, it's really fun to do!

I put mine on a pizza pan to dry out even more before I stored them. I wanted to make sure everything was good and dry. I didn't want to find myself with moldy seeds next spring!

One head will give you hundreds of seeds. You will have plenty to do whatever you want with them. They can be roasted, eaten raw, stored for the next year, given away- or all of the above.

Sunflowers really are a fun and easy plant! Let me know if you grow some! 

You can now buy Mammoth Sunflower seeds in my seed shop. I appreciate your support!

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