How to Grow Sunflower Greens

Published January 2, 2015 by FunkyWolfCafe

4189314_origNormally when you say sunflower, most people will think of either the big beautiful yellow flowers or the perfect little black seeds that taste great roasted with salt.  But there is another aspect to the sunflower plant that most people have not heard of before: Sunflower Greens!  Bright, crunchy and green, they almost remind me of a cross between iceberg lettuce and cucumbers. Except these little greens are packed full of nutrients.

Sunflower greens are rich in lecithin and chlorophyll, both of which are great for your health.  They are packed with vitamins, minerals and are almost 25 percent protein.  Sunflower greens can be used in salads, raw wraps, as soup toppings, in a sandwich or even juiced.

I have never seen sunflower greens available in grocery stores near me, but I do know that in some places you can find them.  If, like me, you are not one of those lucky people, growing sunflower greens yourself is the only option.  It is really not difficult to grow them.  If you follow this step by step guide I promise you can grow your own in a sunny spot in your kitchen or home.1044457_orig9221552_orig

How to Grow Sunflower Greens

STEP 1:  Preparing a little greenhouse/garden bed

  1. Purchase some whole sunflower seeds that are meant for human consumption (Not the kind you feed the birds with).  I order my seeds from the Sprout People, but I am sure there are other places you can find them as well.
  2. Save one of those white plastic food containers with clear plastic tops that you get from ordering take-out food and poke a few holes in the bottom with scissors or a pen (If you don’t order take-out then you could always use a regular plant pot that has drainage).  Save the plastic top to use as a cover while the seeds are under the soil and then you can use the top as a drip tray as they start to grow bigger.  (As you can see below I saved two of the clear plastic tops so I could have a top and a drip tray at the same time – We order a lot of Thai take-out because bringing a 3 year old and a 1 year old to a restaurant is just not fun!)
  3. Get organic potting soil and fill the plastic tray up to the rim (or about 3/4 full).  Now you have a little greenhouse/garden bed all set up for your seeds.

NOTE:  The tray that I am using below is 7”L x 4”W x 2”H.1753584_orig

STEP 2:  Sprouting the Sunflower Seeds

8950439For the size tray that I use, I will sprout about 1/4 cup of seeds.  If you are using a larger tray then you will need to increase the amount.

  1. Clean the sunflower seeds by rinsing them under cool water and cull through them to make sure there are no sticks or rocks (it happens sometimes).
  2. Place the clean seeds in a jar, bowl, or cup and add enough water to cover the seeds completely.  The seeds will float so to keep them all underwater place another cup or bowl over the top of them.  Leave them to soak for 8-12 hours or overnight.
  3. Next you need to spread the seeds out into a sprouter (this is the one I own) or you could even make your own by using another plastic take-out tray with holes in it.  It just needs to be something with good drainage.  (A colander would even work)
  4. Twice a day you need to rinse the seeds with cool water.  Let the water drain off completely and set the container out on the counter. (The idea is to keep them moist without being submerged in water)
  5. Continue to rinse your seeds twice a day (for normally about 2-3 days) or until the seeds start to sprout little white tails as seen in the picture to the left.  
5284754_origSTEP 3:  Plant Your Sprouts
  1. Using a mister or spray bottle, moisten the dirt inside your greenhouse/garden bed quite thoroughly.
  2. Take your sprouted sunflower seeds and lay them out in a single layer (they can be overlapping a little) on the moist soil.  You want to keep them snug together because they will grow better.  
  3. Place the plastic top on to keep the moisture in, and move the greenhouse/garden bed to a warm spot out of direct sunlight.
  4. Once or twice a day, if the dirt or sprouts seem to look dry, give them some water (I like to use the spray bottle).  You want to keep them moist, but not soaking.
  5. Once your greens start to open and push up like the picture below you can remove the plastic lid and move the greenhouse/garden bed to a nice warm and sunny spot and water daily, always making sure the soil is moist.
  6. The greens will grow and continue to stretch their leaves, always following the sunlight so you may need to give the greenhouse/garden bed a turn around every once and a while to keep them growing straight.
  7. Another thing you will notice is that sometimes the seeds will stick to the leaves, you can just gently pull or pop them off.  (I find this task useful for relieving my occasional OCD 😉
9918012_origSTEP 4:  Harvesting your Sunflower Greens
  1. To harvest your sunflower greens all you need a pair of scissors or small garden sheers.  For optimal taste it is best to harvest the leaves before their second set or “true leaves” begin to sprout.  In the1798914_orig picture below you can see how these greens are a little past where they should be, because you can see their second set of leaves.  They will still taste fine, but try to grab them before this happens.  
  2. You can store your cut greens in the refrigerator (they will last quite a while).  
  3. Then just dump out the roots (I put mine in the compost bin) and start again.

And there you have it!  It’s not as hard as all the steps might suggest.  Sunflower greens are in my opinion the easiest of the micro-greens/sprouts to grow.  It is even a fun project that you could do with your children.  The whole process takes only a few days so they can quickly see how a seed becomes a plant…a cool plant that they can eat!3529635_orig

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