Growing Sunflower Sprouts for Crunchy Microgreens

Looking for fresh greens to ramp up your salads? Sunflower sprouts — technically sunflower microgreens — are easy to grow in a sunny windowsill and will be ready to eat in about a week. 

Try growing popcorn shoots, too!

Sunflower sprouts (aka microgreens) in a black tray.

Sunflower sprouts are a bit chunkier than some of the other microgreens you might be familiar with. They have a bit of a nutty flavor and provide a nice, hearty crunchy texture in salads and sandwiches.

When fresh greens are hard to come by, keep several trays of microgreens in rotation. This is a great way for people who live in a small apartment to keep leafy vegetables on hand.

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Growing Edible Sunflower Seed Sprouts

There are a couple of options when it comes to finding seeds for sprouting. You can order organic sunflower microgreen seeds, packaged up specifically for sprouting, but buying sprouting seeds can get expensive.

Another option is to pick up a big bag of black oil sunflower seeds — the kind people use for birdseed. That’s what I’ve used here.

Ingredients

Plastic container  — Recycle from a takeout salad, a meal from the grocery store, etc.

Potting soil — Make sure you use potting soil and not topsoil, as it is made for self-contained pots/containers.

Raw sunflower seeds — No need to get fancy if you don’t want to!

sunflower sprouts

How to Grow Sunflower Seed Sprouts

Fill container with about 2″ of potting soil. Make certain that the container has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.

Scatter seeds over the soil. In this case, don’t worry about overcrowding the seeds – the wee sprouts don’t mind being crowded. You want the seeds to be in a pretty solid single layer on the soil surface.

Cover sunflower seeds with a thin layer of soil about 1″ thick. Water thoroughly and close the plastic lid, if your container has one. This helps to retain moisture until the seeds sprout.

green salad on a white plate

Place out of direct sunlight, but in a sunny window, being sure to use a drainage container under the bottom of the growing tray to capture moisture. 

In two or three days you’ll see little green leaves start to appear. (Left alone, these sunflower shoots would eventually grow into a sunflower plant.) 

At this point, if you’re using a salad container with the lid, you’ll want to open the lid to give the growing sprouts room to grow. Watch the growing sunflower sprouts carefully and water as needed to keep the soil damp but not overly wet. Using a spray bottle to wet the soil prevents damaging the seedlings.

In another couple of days, the sunflower sprouts will be 2-3″ tall and ready to harvest. Don’t let them get much taller than that.

white bowl of clipped leaves from above

FAQs

How do I harvest my sunflower sprouts?

To harvest, simply use sharp scissors to snip them off at the base. The seed hulls tend to be a bit clingy, so I like to put the trimmed sprouts in a colander and rinse gently under water to remove them. Picking them off is doable but time-consuming.

How do I eat sunflower seed sprouts?

Use these sunflower sprouts as you would any other microgreens. They’re a great addition to salads, sandwiches, and wraps. They’re also great added to a fruit smoothie for a little extra nutrition!

Do I need to soak the seeds first?

I find they sprout fine without soaking, so no need to take the time for that step!

Winter Greens

You can grow microgreens year-round, but they have a special appeal during the winter months when fresh greens from the garden are a bit sparse. Other options for winter greens to consider:

sunflower sprouts growing in a black container

 

Sunflower sprouts (aka microgreens) in a black tray.

Growing Sunflower Sprouts for Crunchy Microgreens

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 5 days
Total Time: 5 days 15 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

For fast, fresh greens, sunflower greens can't be beat! The germination process is simple; you'll harvest these before the seedlings develop their first set of true leaves.

Materials

  • a recycled plastic salad container, (or similar)
  • potting soil
  • raw sunflower seeds

Instructions

  1. Fill container with about 2″ of potting soil. Make certain that the container has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. Scatter enough seeds over the soil to nearly cover it all. Don’t worry about overcrowding the seeds – the wee sprouts don’t mind being crowded. You want the seeds to be in a pretty solid single layer on top of the soil.
  2. Cover sunflower seeds with a layer of potting soil about 1″ thick. Water thoroughly and close the plastic lid, if your container has one. This helps to retain moisture until the seeds sprout.
  3. Place in a sunny window, being sure to use a drainage container underneath it to capture moisture. In two or three days you’ll see sunflower sprouts start to appear.
  4. Water as needed to keep the soil damp but not overly wet.
  5. In another couple of days, the sunflower sprouts will be 2-3″ tall and ready to harvest. Don’t let them get much taller than that.
  6. To harvest, simply use scissors to snip them off at the base. The seed casings tend to be a bit clingy, so I like to put the trimmed sprouts in a colander and rinse gently under water to remove them.

Notes

You can order organic seeds packaged up specifically for sprouting or pick up a big bag of black oil sunflower seeds — the kind people use for birdseed. That’s what I’ve used here.

Use these sunflower sprouts as you would any other microgreen: Add to salads, sandwiches, and wraps. They’re also great added to a fruit smoothie for a little extra nutrition!

Did you make this project?

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sunflower sprouts growing in a black container

Originally published March 2020, this post has been updated.

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. Read more about Kris and how she got started with this site here. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

8 comments… add one
  • Naamah Nov 21, 2022 @ 23:19

    Where can I get organic seeds from? Do have a simple guide chart I can follow? I’m a beginner HELP ME!

    • AttainableSustainable Nov 22, 2022 @ 4:21

      I don’t have a guide chart, but there is a link right in the post for where to buy organic seeds to sprout! 🙂

  • Erika Sep 7, 2021 @ 9:54

    Thanks for your great posts on sprouting. Organic sunflower seed prices are indeed too high! Are you using sunflower seeds that are just the seeds or can they have their shell? I see both options as bird seed. Thank you.

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 12, 2021 @ 8:36

      The kind in the shell.

  • Caliese Apr 19, 2020 @ 19:17

    Do they sprout again after you harvest or do you completely start over? Sorry, I’m brand new to growing anything.

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 20, 2020 @ 7:47

      Goodness, don’t apologize. We all start somewhere. These are pretty much once-and-done. Add the spent soil to your compost!

      • Ness May 11, 2020 @ 4:19

        I was told by a lady who had been growing microgreens that most seeds are a one-and-done but peas would grow back so you could get 2-3 harvests from those.

        • Kris Bordessa May 14, 2020 @ 17:41

          It can depend on the type of seed, but definitely worth a try!

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