How to harvest sunflower seeds for birds the easy way

Follow these simple instructions.

Sunflower plants (Helianthus annuus) are popular flowers grown worldwide. They are known for their large, daisy-like flowers with bright yellow petals and a dark central disk, which contains seeds that can be harvested at the end of the season.   

This is a cheap and effortless way to ensure you have plenty of seeds to plant and grow sunflowers next year, and the seeds can also be harvested for birds.   

Remember that sunflower seeds can be high in fat, and while fat is an essential part of a bird’s diet, too much can be harmful. So, everything needs to be in moderation when feeding birds. 

Harvesting sunflower seeds in Australia 

The first thing people need to know about harvesting sunflower seeds is to wait until the seeds are fully matured on the flower head. 

When to harvest sunflower seeds  

Look for the following signs if you’re wondering when sunflowers are ready to harvest seeds.   

  • The back of the sunflower head will turn yellow or brown as the seeds mature.
  • The seeds themselves will turn from white to grey or black colour. White seeds are not ready to harvest.
  • The seeds will feel firm and plump when mature and begin to loosen from the flower head.   
how to harvest sunflower seeds
(Credit: Getty)

How do you get the seeds from sunflowers for harvesting?  

Harvesting sunflower seeds is a straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Cut the sunflower heads: before harvesting sunflower seeds, grab some pruning shears and cut the heads off.   

Dry the sunflower heads: If your flowers need time to dry out a little bit more, leave them in a dry, well-ventilated spot until the seeds are loose, which can take a few more weeks.  

Remove seeds: Once your sunflower seeds are ready for harvesting, remove dead leaves and foliage that might get in the way. Grab a bucket and start removing the seeds. You can do this by rubbing the seeds of the head with your fingers or using a fork to pry them out.  

Store the seeds: Once completely dry, store the sunflower seeds in a cool, dry place, ready for planting next year.

someone harvesting sunflowering seeds into the hand
(Credit: Getty)

How do you deshell sunflower seeds quickly?

Although there’s no need to deshell a sunflower seed before feeding it to birds or planting it next year, some people might prefer to remove the outer shell before eating.

Here’s a quick and easy method for deshelling sunflower seeds quickly.

  • Place the sunflower seeds in a plastic bag.
  • Gently hit the seeds with a rolling pin or blunt object.
  • Crack open the shells without damaging the kernels inside.
  • Separate the kernels from the shells.
  • Discard the shells.

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