How to grow sunflower microgreens at home
Sunflower microgreens are very popular as they are delicious, juicy and nutritious. Because of their mild taste, you can use sunflower microgreens on sandwiches, in salads and as last-minute ingredients in dishes.
The sweet, nutty flavor and crunchy texture make sunflower microgreens a great, healthy, standalone snack.
Sunflowers will be a staple of microgreens here at Home Microgreens. We love her!
Are sunflower microgreens easy to grow?
Sunflower microgreens are easy to grow and mature quickly. That's not to say there can't be problems in the early stages of growth.
For that reason, and we're going to address these issues, we wouldn't say sunflower microgreens are for beginners or those new to microgreens.
If you're looking for some easy microgreens to get you started, take a look at oursSix easiest microgreens to grow. Leave the sunflowers until you've grown a few trays of microgreens.
That means if you follow the steps below you will have no trouble growing sunflower microgreens and in just 8 days you will be munching on those juicy, nutty microgreens.
How to grow sunflower microgreens step by step
We'll go through all the steps you need to take to grow beautiful pots of sunflower microgreens. As mentioned before, sometimes problems do arise, so we will not only show you those, but also how to prevent and fix the problem.
If you want to jump to any point, you can use the table of contents below to click forward in the article.
Click for table of contents and quick navigation
Which seeds should you use?
After reading several articles about growing microgreens, we were surprised at how often the authors suggested using sunflower seeds for wild birds.
We don't think that's a good idea. Yes, the seed may be cheaper, but we have no way of knowing how that seed was handled, stored, or how long it was in bags.
Although wild bird seed seeds are meant to be eaten by animals, we still don't know if they have been sprayed with chemicals. Either during growth or during processing and storage.
It's just a bad idea to use those sunflowers.
Buy sunflower seeds that are grown and processed for microgreen seeds.
Source of sunflower seeds
Supplies required to grow Sunflower Microgreens
Here is a list of the materials you will need to grow your sunflowers. The list is all inclusive including optional items, these will be marked as such. Nonetheless, using all of the items will improve your success.
The list includes links to articles that describe and support these items.
The use of each item is explained in more detail below. Pin the photo below to your Pinterest microgreen board.
How many sunflower seeds do you need?
The number or amount of seeds you need depends on the size of your planter.
Long story short, you want the soil's surface to be completely covered, but not so much that seeds get stacked on top of each other.
In the article linked below, you can use the calculator within the article to calculate the estimated amount based on your planter tray dimensions. The calculator is a good start, but feel free to adjust the amount as you plant your second tray.
In the end, it's best to buy more than you need because once you've eaten your sunflower microgreens, you'll no doubt start another tray.
Click here to use the Micro Green Seed Calculator
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Preparation of microgreen sunflower seeds
The first step in growing sunflower microgreens is to soak the seeds in a mixture ofFood grade hydrogen peroxideand water.
The peroxide reduces the possibility of fungus or mold growth on the sunflower seeds while they are germinating. Hydrogen peroxide can also be sprayed on the seeds and young plants if fungus develops during growth. More on that later.
It's important to use food-grade hydrogen peroxide, not the amber bottle stuff you get at the pharmacy or grocery store. It contains stabilizers that may not be good for you.
In fact, we tried using store-bought peroxide and it didn't work as well as the food-grade peroxide. TheEssential Oxygen Hydrogen Peroxidethe peroxide works amazingly well in the white bottle.
Why Use Hydrogen Peroxide?
For reasons we cannot explain, sunflower seeds often carry a fungus on their husk that begins to grow as soon as they are wetted during planting.
Maybe it's because of the more porous and softer shell of sunflower seeds? Sunflower seeds seem dustier and less clean than other microgreen seeds, so maybe the dust contains the spores?
Perhaps the rougher shell of the sunflower seed provides a suitable substrate for the fungus to grow on.
Be that as it may, regardless of the supplier, sunflower seeds have a tendency to fungus.
Use of food grade hydrogen peroxide for sunflower seeds
How we use hydrogen peroxide in the pre-planting phase is shown in the first part of the video presented later in the article.
The steps are described below.
Plant microgreen sunflower seeds
Fill your planting tray with a professional grade potting soil to within 3/8" to 1/4" of the top of the tray.
Dampen the surface of the soil with a spray bottle two or three times. The entire bottom depth does not have to be wet, only the top part needs moisture at this point.
Pour your seeds into the soil in a heap and use your fingers to spread them evenly over the soil's surface.
Microgreen Sunflower Seeds
Start growing your sunflower microgreens now! The Home Microgreens Store supplies seeds in the perfect quantity for a variety of pot sizes, as well as in ounce, quarter and pound bags. At very competitive prices.
Planting Microgreen Sunflower Seeds cont.
Remove any debris and cracked or empty seed coats as you spread the seeds.
Once the seeds are evenly distributed, use the spray bottle and wet the seeds again.
Now the seeds can be covered and placed insideBlackout.
Video: Treating and planting microgreen sunflower seeds
Here is a video of how we treat and plant sunflower microgreens.
Microgreen Sunflower Seed Embargo Period
Place the tray where you will grow them and cover them with a lid, cover, other tray, or something flat and solid.
Put a weight on this cover, don't be afraid of the load, 5 pounds is not too much weight.
Then cover the tray and weight with a tea towel or some light. The seeds germinate and root better under the weight and in the dark.
Leave the seeded bowl there for 48 hours before looking at it again.
What to look out for after 48 hours
We not only want to check how well your sunflowers are germinating, but also whether there are fungi or molds (hereafter called fungi) on the seed coats or in the soil.
Below is a tray of sunflower seeds with growing fungus.
If you don't see thisClick here to go to the next step.
If you click on the close-up image, you will see white spots on the seed coats and long, thin threads. That's the fungus, the flaky white coating on the seedradiclesRoot hairs are, these are normal.
Do you have a mushroom among us?
Don't worry if you have fungi, we can pinch them in the hyphae.
As already mentioned, a bit of fungus often grows on sunflower seeds. If caught early, the fungus can be treated and your tray of microgreens will continue to thrive.
The easiest way to take care of the fungus is to lightly spray food-grade hydrogen peroxide over the peel.
Once you've sprayed the peroxide on the sprouting seeds, place the cover back on the tray and place back in the blackout.
Below are some before and after photos of a tray that was infested with fungus. As you can see the peroxide took care of the fungus and the seeds were not harmed.
This is the same bowl of sunflower seeds as shown above, the second photo is a day after they have been lightly sprayed with food grade hydrogen peroxide. Note: Hydrogen peroxide from the pharmacy or drugstore should not be used because of the stabilizers. However, we tried it and the results were nowhere near as good as with the food product.
We also read that white vinegar and grapefruit seed extract also kill fungus. We will test these and create a separate article about the results and update this post as well.
Removing sunflower microgreens from the blackout
To get an idea of when to place your sunflower microgreens under lights, see the photo below.
Most microgreens are cut and dry when they are removed from the blackout period. It's time when the plants lift the cover from the tray, or for smaller microgreens when there is good germination it's time to put them under a light.
When your sunflower tray is clean and the plants are growing well, treat them like any other microgreen; When they start lifting the cover and weight, put them in the light.
However, with sunflowers, which have had some fungal issues, we may need to get them out of cover. If fungus is present and the peroxide spray hasn't eradicated it, remove the cover and allow some air to flow around the plants and soil.
In most cases, this will solve the problem, and the sunflower microgreens will recover and grow well. A little slower though.
The plants in the center of the tray have the cover lifted, including the 5lb weight on it. Note that the seeds on the edge of the tray didn't germinate as well or grow as quickly.
We're not sure if this is due to lower humidity on the outside, less soil around the edges that doesn't retain enough moisture, or some other reason.
Anyway, at this point we placed this tray under our LED grow lights and watered the tray from below.
We are still refining our sunflower cultivation process. We will write an article or discuss it in an email to our followers. If you would like to be notified when the new article or the results of further tests are published, sign up for notifications below.
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Place sunflower microgreens under light
I'm always amazed at how quickly microgreens react and start growing as soon as they get light. Sunflowers are no exception. The photo below shows the same tray as above after a day under light.
See how quickly the plants turn green and begin photosynthesis. It's been 5 days since these sunflower microgreens were planted. Six days since soaking.
You will also notice that the seeds at the edge are now beginning to grow. They lag behind the crowd in the center of the tray.
Removing microgreen seed coats or shells from sunflowers
Another reason we don't recommend growing sunflowers for beginners is that the seed coats or pods tend to stick to the plantsGerm leaveshow they grow. We want beginners to have an easy and enjoyable experience.
We've tried many different ways of planting sunflower microgreens, from soaking for more than 24 hours to burying the seeds after planting. Still the same result, many of the shells remain as the plant grows.
To remove the hulls, lightly brush the top of the microgreens with the palm of your hand. We found this to be the best way.
We do this every day that we inspect the microgreens.
We'll also pluck them carefully, being careful not to damage the tender leaves underneath.
Yes, it is a manual process.
When to harvest sunflower microgreens
We like to harvest the sunflower microgreens within a day or two of harvestfirst real leavesbegin to form.
For the tray below, that's just 8 days from planting!
Yes, sunflower microgreens grow fast. If the true leaves get too big, the microgreens will become tough and a little bitter.
The sunflower microgreens shown above could take another day, maybe even two, before harvest. It's a personal choice of flavor and texture, so taste them at this point and harvest when most of the plants have developed to the stage you like.
Microgreen nutrition with sunflowers
Sunflower Microgreens are highly nutritious and a complete source of protein. They are also high in vitamins and minerals and offer other health benefits.
We have published an article about thisYou can read about sunflower microgreen nutrition here.
We also have these other articles on Sunflower Microgreens.
More articles about sunflowers
Growing Sunflower Microgreens - Soaking the Seed
How to grow sunflower microgreens at home
Sunflower Microgreens Nutrition - Including 5 Awesome Health Benefits
Chronological order of growing sunflower microgreens
Sunflower seeds just planted after a 1 day soak.
Sunflower microgreens 3 days after planting.
Sunflower microgreens 4 days after planting.
Sunflower microgreens 5 days after planting.
Sunflower microgreens 6 days after planting.
Sunflower microgreens 8 days after planting.
How do sunflower microgreens taste?
I really didn't want to like sunflower microgreens. I'm not sure why I thought so, just did it.
Luckily it turns out I love her! They have a great crunchy texture but are still juicy, I think they have a more substantial bite than most microgreens. Sort of like spinach is a bit sturdier than lettuce leaves.
The taste is best explained as nutty, like eating the inside of the raw or roasted sunflower seeds. The flavor is delicious, with no bitterness, and while nutty in flavor, it doesn't have the oily flavor that some nuts have.
At my workshops and lectures, I always provide five or six microgreens for tasting. Sunflowers are the first or second favorite microgreens among patrons.
Home Microgreens Shop
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How to use sunflower microgreens
You can eat sunflower microgreens raw or blanched. If adding them to hot dishes, add them at the end so they retain some of the crispiness.
They're great in a variety of dishes including soups, salads, omelettes and scrambled eggs, as well as toppings for sandwiches and wraps.
Try them, you won't be disappointed.
Tell us about your experiences with sunflower microgreens. We all learn more when people share their trials and successes! Leave a comment below, itnotAdd your email address to any mailing or marketing list.
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Author of this article is Todd
Todd is the founder of Home Microgreens and the Home Microgreens Store. He also writes for several other websites includingMyViewFromTheWoods.com.
His microgreens have appeared in Better Homes & Garden magazine and other websites.
Todd worked at a large farmer's market, garden and nursery center for 20 years. He somehow snuck off to become a geologist and professor before coming to his senses to write and lecture on microgreens and gardening. When he's not at the computer, he's in the garden, a trout stream or on a mountain trail with his Springer Spaniel Caden.
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