How to Grow Sunflower Microgreens at Home
Sunflower microgreens are very popular as they are delicious, juicy, and nutritious. Their mild flavor means you can use sunflower microgreens on sandwiches, in salads, as last-minute additions in dishes.
The sweet, nutty flavor and crunchy texture make sunflower microgreens a great healthy stand-alone snack.
Sunflowers will be a staple microgreen here at Home Microgreens. We love them!
Are Sunflower Microgreens Easy To Grow?
Growing sunflower microgreens is easy, and they mature quickly. That isn't to say that there can't be some problems in the first stages of growth.
For that reason, and we'll dig into those problems, we wouldn't say that sunflower microgreens are for beginners or those new to microgreens.
If you're looking for a few easy microgreens to get started with, take a look at our Six Easiest Microgreens to Grow. Leave the sunflowers for after you have grown a few trays of microgreens.
That said, if you follow the steps below, you won't have any problems growing sunflower microgreens, and in as few as 8-days, you'll be crunching on those juicy, nutty, microgreens.
How to Grow Sunflower Microgreens Step-By-Step
We'll go through all the steps you'll need to take to grow beautiful trays of sunflower microgreens. As mentioned previously, sometimes issues arise, so we will not only show you those but also how to prevent and cure the problem.
If you want to skip ahead and any point, you can use the table of contents below to click forward in the article.
Click for Table of Contents and Quick Navigation
What Seed Should You Use?
After reading several articles on growing microgreens, we were surprised by the number of times the authors suggested using wild bird food sunflower seeds.
We don't think this is a good idea. Yes, the seed may be less expensive, but we have no way of knowing how those seeds were treated, stored, or how long they've been bagged.
Although wild bird food seeds are meant to be eaten by animals, we still don't know if they've been sprayed with chemicals. Either when they were growing 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.
Supplies Needed To Grow Sunflower Microgreens
Here's a list of the supplies you'll need to grow your sunflowers. The list is all-inclusive, including optional items, these will be labeled as such. Nonetheless, using all of the items will improve your success.
The list includes links to articles describing and supporting those items.
Each item's use will be explained in more detail below. Pin the photo below to your Pinterest Microgreen Board.
How Many Sunflower Seeds Will You Need?
The number or amount of seeds you'll need depends on the size of your planting tray.
Long story short, you want the soil surface to be covered completely, but not so much that seeds are stacked on top of each other.
In the article linked below, you can calculate the estimated amount using the calculator within the article based on your planting tray dimensions. The calculator is a good start, but feel free to adjust the amount when you plant your second tray.
In the end, it's best to buy more than you'll need because once you eat your sunflower microgreens, there's no doubt you'll be starting another tray.
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Preparing Sunflower Microgreen Seeds
The first step in growing sunflower microgreens is to soak the seeds in a mixture of food grade hydrogen peroxide and water.
The peroxide reduces the possibility of fungus or mold growing on the sunflower seeds as they germinate. Hydrogen peroxide can also be sprayed on the seeds and young plants if fungus forms as they grow. More on this later.
It's important to use food grade hydrogen peroxide, not the stuff in the brown bottle from 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. The Essential Oxygen hydrogen peroxide in the white bottle peroxide performs amazingly well.
Why Use Hydrogen Peroxide?
For reasons we can't explain, sunflower seeds often carry a fungus on their shell that starts to grow as soon as they are wetted during planting.
Maybe it's because of the more porous and softer shell on sunflower seeds? Sunflower seeds aways seem to be dustier and less clean than other microgreen seeds, so maybe the dust contains the spores?
Maybe the rougher shell on the sunflower seed provides a suitable substrate for the fungus to grow on.
Whatever the case, regardless of the supplier, sunflower seeds have a propensity to grow fungus.
Using Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide on Sunflower Seeds
How we use hydrogen peroxide in the pre-planting stage is shown in the first part of the video presented later in the article.
The steps are outlined below.
Planting Sunflower Microgreen Seeds
Fill your planting tray with a professional-grade potting mix to within 3/8" to 1/4" from the top of the tray.
Wet the surface of the soil two or three times with a spray bottle. The whole depth of soil doesn't need to be wet, only the upper portion needs moisture at this point.
Pour your seeds onto the soil in a heap, and use your fingers to spread the seeds evenly across the soil surface.
Sunflower Microgreen Seeds
Start growing your sunflower microgreens now! We supply seeds in the perfect quantity for a variety of tray sizes, as well as by the ounce and quarter pound. At very competitive prices.
Planting Sunflower Microgreen Seeds Con't.
Remove any debris and cracked or empty seed husks while you spread out the seeds.
Once the seeds are evenly spaced, use the spray bottle and wet the seeds one more time.
Now the seeds are ready to be covered and placed in blackout.
Video: Treating & Planting Sunflower Microgreen Seeds
Here's a video of how we treat and plant sunflower microgreens.
Blackout Period for Sunflower Microgreen Seeds
Put the tray in the place where you'll grow them out and cover them with a lid, cover, another tray, or something flat and firm.
Place a weight on top of this cover, don't be afraid of the load, 5-pounds isn't too much weight.
Then cover the tray and weight with a tea towel or something to block out light. The seeds will germinate and root better under the weight and in the dark.
Let the seeded tray sit there for 48-hours before looking at them again.
What To Look For After 48-hours
Besides checking to see how well your sunflowers are germinating, we want to see if there's any fungus or mold (hereafter called fungus) on the seed husks or the soil.
Below is a tray of sunflower seeds with growing fungus.
If you don't see this, click here to go to the next step.
If you click on the close-up picture, you'll see white specks on the seed shells, and long, thin strings. That is the fungus, the fuzzy white coating on the seed radicles is root hairs, these are normal.
Have Some Fungus Among Us?
Don't worry if you do have some fungus, we can nip it in the hyphae.
As we mentioned, sunflower seeds often get a bit of fungus growing on them. If caught early, the fungus can be taken care of, and your tray of microgreens will go on to flourish.
The easiest way to take care of the fungus is to spray food grade hydrogen peroxide over the tray lightly.
Once you spray the peroxide on the sprouting seeds, place the cover back on the tray and put them back into the blackout.
Below are some before and after photos of a tray that was inflected with some fungus. As you can see, the peroxide took care of the fungus, and the seeds weren't harmed.
This is the same tray of sunflower seeds shown above, the second photo is a day after being lightly sprayed with food grade hydrogen peroxide. Note: hydrogen peroxide from the pharmacy or drug store shouldn't be used because of the stabilizers. However, we did try it, and the results weren't as good as using the food-grade product by a long shot.
We have also read that white vinegar, and grapefruit seed extract will kill fungus too. We will test those and make a separate article on 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 light, see the photo below.
For most microgreens, it's cut and dry when to remove the from the blackout period. It's time when the plants lift the cover off the tray, or for smaller microgreens, when there is good germination, it's time to place them under a light.
If 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, place them in the light.
For sunflowers that have had some fungus problems, however, we may need to get them out from undercover. If fungus is present, and the peroxide spray didn't eradicate it, remove the cover and get some airflow around the plants and soil.
In most cases, this will take care of the problem, and the sunflower microgreens will recover and grow just fine. Though, a bit slower.
The plants in the middle of the tray have lifted the cover, including the 5-pound weight on top of them. Notice that the seeds on the perimeter of the tray didn't germinate as well, or grow as fast.
We aren't sure if this is because of lower humidity on the outside, less soil on the edges not retaining enough moisture, or some other cause.
Anyway, at this point, we placed this tray under our LED grow lights and watered the tray from the bottom.
We are still fine-tuning our sunflower growing process. We will write an article or discuss it in an email to our followers. If you'd like to be notified when the new article or results from further testing are published, sign-up below for notifications.
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Placing Sunflower Microgreens Under Light
I'm always amazed by how quick microgreens react and start growing once they receive light. Sunflowers are no exception. The photo below shows the same tray as above after one day under a light.
See how quickly the plants become green and start photosynthesizing. It has been 5-days since planting these sunflower microgreens. Six-days since soaking.
You'll also notice that seeds along the edge are starting to grow now. They lag behind the mass in the middle of the tray.
Removing Sunflower Microgreen Seed Hulls or Husks
Another reason we don't recommend that beginners grow sunflowers is because the seed hulls or husks cling to the cotyledons as they grow. We want beginners to have an easy and enjoyable experience.
We've tried many different ways of planting sunflower microgreens, from soaking them longer than 24-hours, to burying the seeds after planting them. Still the same result, many of the hulls are retained while the plant grows.
To remove 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 check on the microgreens.
Also, we will gently pick them off, being careful not to hurt the tender leaves beneath.
Yes, it's a manual process.
When To Harvest Sunflower Microgreens
We like to harvest the sunflower microgreens within one or two days after the first true leaves start to form.
For the tray below, that is only 8-days from planting!
Yes, sunflower microgreens grow quickly. If the true leaves get too large, the microgreens become tough and a little bitter.
The sunflower microgreens shown above could go another day, maybe even two, before harvesting. It's a personal choice on the taste and texture, so at this point, sample them and harvest when the majority of plants have developed to the stage you like them.
Chronological Order of Sunflower Microgreens Growing
What Do Sunflower Microgreens Taste Like?
I really didn't want to like sunflower microgreens. I'm not sure why I thought this way, just did.
Fortunately, it turns out I love them! They have a great crisp texture but are still juicy, I guess they are a more substantial bite than most microgreens. Sort of like how spinach is a bit beefier than lettuce leaves.
The flavor is best explained as nutty, like eating the insides of the raw or roasted sunflower seeds. The flavor is delightful, with no bitterness, and although nutty in flavor, it doesn't have that oily taste that some nuts have.
During my workshops and presentations, I always provide five or six microgreens for tasting. Sunflowers are the first or second favorite microgreens among the patrons.
How to Use Sunflower Microgreens
You can eat sunflower microgreens raw or blanched. If you add them to hot foods, add them at the end, so they retain some of the crunchiness.
They go great on a wide variety of dishes, including soups, salads, omeletes, and scrambled eggs, as well as toppings for sandwiches and wraps.
Give them a try, you won't be disappointed.
Let us know your experiences with sunflower microgreens. We all learn more when people share their trials and successes! Leave a comment below, it does not add your email to any mailing or marketing list.
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