How to Grow Sunflowers

Harvest the seeds for snacks and replant next year.

  • Add some color to your table by creating a bouquet for the centerpiece.
    Photo by Emily Murphy/Josh Murphy
  • Sunflowers are a bee favorite.
    Photo by Emily Murphy/Josh Murphy
  • “Grow What You Love” by Emily Murphy, encourages gardeners to exactly that. Choose plants you enjoy using in your everyday life.
    Courtesy of Firefly Books

Grow What You Love: 12 Food Plant Families To Change Your Life (Firefly Book, 2018) by Emily Murphy, not only teaches readers to grow and harvest gardens but to apply this philosophy to life as well. Murphy helps readers to plan out gardens to best suite their space and needs. She shares tips and techniques for growing a successful garden. The following excerpt is from The Plant Directory, “Edible Flowers and Companion Plants.” 


Helianthus spp.

Sunflowers have a wonderful way of requiring little but giving so much in return. Their sturdy, vertical nature is perfect for the smallest of gardens, allowing them to double as a support for climbing pole beans. They’re a bee favorite and, of course, produce lovely cut flowers as well as seeds for saving and eating.



Annual. Prefers moderate to rich well-draining soil. Direct-sow seeds one to two weeks after your last spring frost, or start indoors two to four weeks before your last spring frost. If starting indoors, it’s best to grow them in individual paper pots so their roots are disturbed as little as possible when transplanting. Plant seeds 1/4 to 1 inch deep depending on size of seed. Spacing depends on size of plant at maturity.

Sunflowers are easy to grow and happy to volunteer in mild climates. Look for their telltale leaves emerging in spring, and move them around your garden for optimal placement, planting them on the north side of beds so they don’t shade out other sun-loving plants. Group them together for a shock of color, and hope the squirrels and birds don’t get to the seeds before you do!

A. Cain
7/20/2018 12:38:51 PM

How do you separate the seeds from the hulls? I love the seeds in mixes, but I won't eat them one by one from the hull and spit the shells--too much hassle.

7/20/2018 8:10:40 AM

Karri Sue, That one's name is Sam. Sam the sunflower...

4/25/2018 8:10:05 AM

We grow lots of sunflowers in our NW Kansas garden. They bring lots of bees and we save the seed heads to treat the chickens with in the winter months.

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