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How To Grow Sunflower Microgreens At Home

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, and as last-minute additions to 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!

sunflower microgreens' nutrition

Are Sunflower Microgreens Easy To Grow?

Growing sunflower microgreens is easy, and they mature quickly. That isn’t to say 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 sunflower microgreens are for beginners or those new to microgreens. 

If you’re looking for a few easy microgreens to get started with, 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.

sunflower microgreens
home microgreens sells seeds

FREE Home Microgreens Grow course that teaches you the basics of growing microgreens in your home! There are 12 video lessons (over 120 minutes), downloads, and more written information and tips!

How to Grow Sunflower Microgreens Step-By-Step

We’ll go through all the steps you need to take to grow beautiful trays of sunflower microgreens. As mentioned previously, sometimes issues arise, so we will show you those and how to prevent and cure the problem. 

What Seed Should You Use?

After reading several articles on growing microgreens, we were surprised by how many 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 cannot know 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.

growing sunflower microgreens at home

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.

planting sunflower microgreen seeds

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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 molds growing on the sunflower seeds as they germinate. Hydrogen peroxide can also spray 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, which 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 sunflower seeds’ more porous and softer shells? Sunflower seeds always 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 tend to grow fungus.

Using Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide on Sunflower Seeds

The first part of the video, presented later in the article, shows how we use hydrogen peroxide in the pre-planting stage.

The steps are outlined below.

  • Place the sunflower seeds in a small waterproof container and pour a teaspoon of 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide for every 25 grams of seed.
  • Let the peroxide soak into the seeds for 5 to 10 minutes. You’ll hear it oxidizing in the cup.
  • Then add enough water to cover the seeds by an inch or so.
  • Let the seeds soak for 12  to 24 hours (maybe longer- we’re still doing tests).
  • After soaking, drain the seeds and rinse with fresh water.
  • The seeds are now ready to plant.
treating sunflower microgreen seeds

Planting Sunflower Microgreen Seeds

Step 1

Fill your planting tray with a professional-grade potting mix to be within 3/8″  to 1/4″ from the top of the tray.

Step 2

Wet the soil’s surface two or three times with a spray bottle. The whole soil depth doesn’t need to be wet; only the upper portion needs moisture at this point.

Step 3

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! The Home Microgreens Store supplies seeds in the perfect quantity for various tray sizes, as well as by the ounce, quarter pound, and pound bags, at very competitive prices.

sunflower seeds

Planting Sunflower Microgreen Seeds Con’t.

Step 4

Remove debris and cracked or empty seed husks while spreading the seeds.

Step 5

Once the seeds are evenly spaced, use the spray bottle and wet the seeds one more time.

Step 6

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

Step 7

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.

Step 8

Place a weight on top of this cover, don’t be afraid of the load; 5 pounds isn’t too much weight.

Step 9

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.

Step 10

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.

fungus on sunflower seeds
close-up of fungus in sunflower microgreen seeds

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 have some fungus; we can nip it in the hyphae.

As we mentioned, sunflower seeds often have some fungus growing on them. If caught early, the fungus can be taken care of, and your tray of microgreens will flourish.

The easiest way to take care of the fungus is to lightly spray food-grade hydrogen peroxide over the tray.

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 infected with fungus. As you can see, the peroxide took care of the fungus, and the seeds weren’t harmed. 

close-up of fungus in sunflower microgreen seeds
sunflower seeds treated with hydrogen peroxide

This is the same tray of sunflower seeds shown above, and 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, make a separate article on the results, and update this post. 

Removing Sunflower Microgreens From The Blackout

See the photo below to get an idea of when to place your sunflower microgreens under the light.

Most microgreens are cut and dry when removing them from the blackout period. 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 lift 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 doesn’t eradicate it, remove the cover and get some airflow around the plants and soil.

This will solve the problem in most cases, and the sunflower microgreens will recover and grow just fine. Though a bit slower.

growing sunflower microgreen seeds

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 tray’s perimeter didn’t germinate or grow as fast.

We aren’t sure if this is because of lower humidity 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 quickly microgreens react and grow once they receive light. Sunflowers are no exception. The photo below shows the same tray as above after one day under a light.

growing-sunflower-microgreens

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 because the seed hulls or husks cling to the cotyledons as they grow. We want beginners to have an easy and enjoyable experience. 

how to remove sunflower microgreen hulls

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 when we check on the microgreens. 

Also, we will gently pick them off, 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 eight days from planting!

sunflower first true leaves

Yes, sunflower microgreens grow quickly. If the true leaves get too large, the microgreens become tough and a little bitter.

The sunflower microgreens 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 most plants have developed to the stage you like them.

Sunflower Microgreen Nutrition

Sunflower microgreens are very nutritious and are a complete protein source. They also contain many vitamins and minerals and provide other health benefits. 

We have published an article on sunflower microgreen nutrition, you can read it here.

We also have these other articles about sunflower microgreens.

Additional Articles About Sunflowers

Growing Sunflower Microgreens – Presoaking the Seed

How To Grow Sunflower Microgreens At Home

Sunflower Microgreens Nutrition – Including 5 Awesome Health Benefits

Chronological Order of Sunflower Microgreens Growing

planting sunflower microgreen seeds

Sunflower Seeds just planted after a 1-day soak.

fungus on sunflower seeds

Sunflower Microgreens 3 days after planting.

growing sunflower microgreen seeds

Sunflower Microgreens 4 days after planting.

growing-sunflower-microgreens

Sunflower Microgreens 5 days after planting.

sunflower microgreen tray

Sunflower microgreens 6 days after planting.

sunflower microgreens

Sunflower Microgreens 8 days after planting.

What Do Sunflower Microgreens Taste Like?

I really didn’t want to like sunflower microgreens. I’m not sure why I thought this way, I 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 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.

I always provide five or six microgreens for tasting during my workshops and presentations. Sunflowers are the first or second favorite microgreens among the patrons.

Home Microgreens Store

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 various dishes, including soups, salads, omelets, scrambled eggs, and 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!

Author

  • Todd

    Todd is the founder of Home Microgreens & the Home Microgreens store. He also writes for several other websites, including MyViewFromTheWoods.com. Todd worked at a large farm market, garden & nursery center for 20 years. Somehow he snuck off to become a geologist and professor before coming back to his senses to write & lecture about microgreens and gardening. When not at the computer, he can be found in the garden, trout stream, or mountain trail with his new Springer Spaniel Caden.

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6 thoughts on “How To Grow Sunflower Microgreens At Home”

  1. Have you tested any natural methods to keep mold of your microgreens? For example, spices or vinegars? Might be a good experiment.

  2. Hi Carol,
    I’m not a chef, work in the food industry, or a nutritionist, but my understanding would be that the vitamins and minerals would either remain in the green or migrate into the food. I’m pretty sure that if. microgreen contains proteins, that the heat would denature them.
    I add microgreens to my cooked food all of the time. Ground meats, soups (at the end or float them in the soup), egg dishes, and anything else that seems appropriate at the time.
    If anyone else has any knowledge on this subject please add it to the comment thread.

Comments are closed.

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