Sunflower Microgreens Ultimate Growing Guide

Want a microgreen that packs an amazing nutritional punch with a nutty taste? You have got to try sunflower microgreens!

sunflower microgreens

Out of all the microgreens I’ve tried, these are by far one of my favorite greens. They are delicious raw or cooked and are amazingly versatile. Plus, they are soooo good for you!

Sunflower Microgreens Profile

Flavor: Nutty, like raw sunflower seeds

Texture: Crunchy

Presoak: Recommended

Soak: Up to 24 hours

Rinse/Drain: Rinse in between soaks, or after 12 hours

Germination: 2-4 Days

Harvest: 8-14 Days

Difficulty Level: Easy

Sunflower Microgreens Nutrient Information

Serving Size: 1/3 cup

Calories: 5

Fat: 0.2g

Cholesterol: 0mg

Carbohydrates: 1g

Protein: 1g

Each serving also contains 2% of your daily Vitamin A, Calcium and Iron and are a great source of b vitamins!

illustration of sunflower microgreens

Tips and Tricks for Growing Perfect Sunflower Microgreens

Note that this is different than growing sunflower sprouts. Sprouts are grown without soil and eaten seed and all. Microgreens are allowed to grow their first leaves before being consumed.

1. Pick the right soil. Choosing regular garden soil can leave you open to pests and isn’t the optimal growing medium for microgreens. We will talk more about what makes great soil below.

2. Use food-grade hydrogen peroxide to presoak your seeds. Fungus can hide on sunflower seeds, so it’s best to treat them before soaking or planting. Please don’t use the hydrogen peroxide from the store!

Soak the seeds in the hydrogen peroxide for about 5 minutes, then cover with water for the soaking process, discussed below. No need to rinse the peroxide off the seeds because it breaks down into oxygen and water.

3. If you notice fungus growing on your sunflower shoots, spray with the same food-grade hydrogen peroxide to kill the fungus. It won’t hurt the plants.

4. I have also read that adding a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender to your misting water can help ward off the disease known as dampening off.

Growing Sunflower Microgreens (Step by Step)

Supplies You Need to Grow Sunflower Greens

Seeds

Seeds are the first thing you will need to grow your micro greens. Without them, you won’t be able to grow anything!

You can use just about any seeds that haven’t been heated, but I would stay away from ones that weren’t meant for human consumption.

I have seen others say they buy the seeds meant for birds, and this could be an option because at least the seeds shouldn’t have been treated with chemicals (at least we hope the organic ones haven’t!), but just to be safe I always opt for the ones that are meant for growing microgreens.

The best type of seeds to buy for growing sunflower greens is the black oil sunflower seed. These produce much tastier greens and are easier to grow than their striped counterparts.

Where to buy seeds for sunflower microgreens:

Container

You will need some type of container for growing your seeds in. If you want to sprout your seeds, you won’t need any soil and the container will be different. Since we are growing microgreens, we will need a bit more.

The right container for this type of seed is a shallow one, only 1 to 2 inches deep. The greens will be harvested before they get very large, so you don’t need anything more than this.

There are a million different containers that are shallow like this, and all can work as long as there is ample drainage. If you don’t allow drainage you will find that the water just pools in the container and can rot the roots, so be sure to choose a container that can drain.

You also need to ensure that your container is durable and food-safe, so be sure not to use pressure treated wood or another material that could make the greens unsafe to eat.

You can recycle old milk cartons or jugs by cutting them down, or buy fancy new trays made for microgreens. Make it yourself for free or spend a lot – it’s up to you!

If you want to buy some durable, safe containers, here are my recommendations:

Soil

The right soil is the next key to growing great microgreens. If you’re growing some greens outdoors, pretty much any soil will do. But most people grow sunflower micro greens indoors, which is a big part of the appeal of these mini greens.

You want the soil you choose to have great nutrients for your baby greens. Indoor potting mix is going to be the best choice for this. This is because they are safe to use indoors (no fungus, bugs, or molds!), they allow for ample drainage but still retain moisture for baby roots, and they allow for air pockets in the soil.

You can also grow sunflower microgreens in coconut coir. This growing medium is made from – you guessed it! – coconut! Specifically the husk of the coconut fruit. Coconut coir retains moisture. is resistant to microbial breakdown and is easier to wet than peat moss. This isn’t often used on its own, but you can find some great soils that include it.

Recommended Soils for Microgreens:

If you would like recommendations for a complete growing kit, be sure to visit the shop!

Soaking

Soaking the seeds is an important step when dealing with sunflower microgreens. Many greens don’t require a soak, but the hard outer shell on a sunflower seed can be softened with a good soak. (Just think of those hard outer shells on roasted sunflower seeds…)

Soaking also helps the seeds sprout easier. The tiny seedlings have to push through that tough outer shell, so softening the shell will help them push through easier. Two great reasons to soak!

Note: As mentioned above, you might want to presoak the seeds in hydrogen peroxide. Check the tips and tricks section!

To soak sunflower seeds, submerge them in cold water for about 12 hours. You can do up to 24 hours, but 12 seems to be the best.

Then, you will want to drain the seeds in a colander and give them a good rinse. You can do the additional 8 to 12 hours of soaking here, but I haven’t found it necessary. You might even see them start to sprout!

Now, you’re ready to plant!

sunflower microgreens starting to sprout

Planting

When your seeds are all rinsed they are ready to go! Growing sunflower microgreens is very easy.

First, you will want to add around an inch of your soil to the growing tray. It doesn’t really matter what type of soil you are using as mentioned above. Just ensure that it’s clean and made for using indoors (preferably).

Then, you will want to add your seeds. You want to completely cover the top of your soil with seeds, making sure there aren’t any stacked on top of each other.

Finally, cover the seeds with a very fine layer of soil, just enough to barely cover, then put your growing tray in a warm place out of direct sunlight.

I know, it seems weird to put the plant out of the sunlight since you want them to grow, but plants actually need dark to germinate. Think about it, they are usually deep in the ground, not in direct sunlight when they are planted.

Many sources actually recommend putting them in the dark for a period of time before bringing them out into the sun. Try both methods and see what works best for you!

Once the seedlings emerge they will need light. All seedlings need sunlight (or a grow light) on those new baby green leaves to grow, so make sure to move them into the sun or a grow light after they break the surface of the soil.

Growing/Watering

You want to keep the soil in the container slightly damp, but not soggy. A lot of people will use a sprayer to mist the soil so that they don’t have a lot of water collecting in the bottom. This is what I like to do.

Make sure that the seedlings get access to fresh air. I tried growing lavender one time and just left the lid on the mini greenhouse all the time and it did not go well for me. While they need some humidity, too much can make the stems rot, which is what I found with my lavender plants. (I’ve learned a LOT since then!) So if you do use a container with a clear lid (whether you buy a mini greenhouse or make one), make sure to take it off once the seedlings start to grow.

Be sure not to overwater. This is another early mistake I made! You only want to water enough for the soil to be damp, not wet. You can rot your plants this way (yep, been there) and can also grow fungus on the plants.

sunflower microgreens in progress

Harvesting

The ideal harvest time is 8-14 days after planting. You want to see the seedlings push their shells off (although some will need help with this, just run your hand gently over the top of the greens to dislodge the seed hulls).

You want your sprouting sunflower seeds to have developed two big leaves (the cotyledon), known as seed leaves, and the true leaves just beginning to grow in the middle. Try some at 8 days and keep trying them as they get older to see which way you like them best!!

We really love these mini greens in our house and the kids can’t wait for them to get very large, so they often don’t make it to the 14-day mark, but we find them delicious either way. When they get past that point we don’t like them as much, but they never last that long around here anyway!

To harvest, use a small, sharp pair of scissors to cut the seedlings off at the base (you don’t want any soil, so cut just above the soil line). Then you will want to wash the greens. Some people like a salad spinner for this, but we just lay them gently on a towel or paper towel and then use a second towel or paper towel to gently pat dry. Sometimes the kids will sneak them before washing!

Harvest as many as you want to use and leave the rest to harvest later. I find that this works better than harvesting them all at once and storing them in the fridge.

sunflower microgreens on small cutting board

Storing

You can store them in a ziptop bag in the refrigerator. If you grow more than one type of green, I recommend labeling your bag with the type and date of harvest.

Once cut, a sunflower sprout will not regrow, so you will need to compost the soil that the roots are left in. Some people reuse the soil, but I have not had much success with this. Since so little soil is used anyway, it makes sense to just compost and start with new.

Can you Grow Sunflower Microgreens Without Soil?

This is a very common question and the answer is YES!

To grow these greens without soil, you will need the same supplies as above, but without the soil.

Seeds, growing tray, colander to rinse, and a bowl to soak.

Presoak the seeds if desired, then soak the seeds as above for 8-12 hours as above, then transfer to the colander and rinse.

Here’s where it gets different:

You can either use a jute mat or take a few more steps to grow in the same container without any type of substrate.

If using a jute mat, place it in your growing container and place the seeds on top of it. Keep it moist and the seeds will put down roots into the mat.

If you want no type of substrate at all (no soil, no mat), keep rinsing your seeds in the colander every few days until you see sprouting seeds.

Once your seeds have sprouted, place them in the growing container. This usually takes about 48 to 72 hours from the soak. When you place them in the container, don’t worry if they are on top of each other. In the soil we wanted to give each seed some room, but here we can let them overlap.

Water once per day and make sure they are getting enough light and air. Harvest at the same time as their soil-based counterparts!

How to Eat Sunflower Microgreens

These amazing little fresh greens can be added to almost anything. They have the texture of spinach with the nutty flavor of raw sunflower seeds.

You can eat these greens raw or cooked, but if cooking try to add them at the end to retain their nutrient value and their delicate crunch.

I love to add mine to pizza, sandwiches, omelettes, soups and salads. I also blend mine into smoothies, sneak them into dips and a lot of other special sneaky recipes I’ll be sharing soon!

Common Problems Growing Microgreens

We are going to assume that you are growing your greens indoors and address some common problems you might encounter when growing sunflower microgreens.

1. Mold, Mildew or Fungus

This is by far the most common problem with growing microgreens. We discussed a couple of solutions for our sunflower microgreens above, such as presoaking with food-grade hydrogen peroxide and adding lavender to the misting water.

Too much moisture is one of the main culprits when it comes to mold, mildew or fungus. These types of things love soggy conditions, so be sure not to overwater and get soggy soil. Be sure to allow ample drainage so this doesn’t happen.

You can also get too much moisture by having your humidity too high. This is what happened to me when I didn’t take the top off of the greenhouse (okay, one of the things!). It also allowed for too much moisture and caused my plants to rot.

2. Yellow, “Leggy” Stems

This is a problem I used to have with all of my seedlings and it took me a long time for me to figure out why it was happening!

Most microgreens will be yellow in appearance when they first emerge from their seeds, but once the young plants get some light they should turn green.

If you find that your seedlings are staying yellow and they are getting tall and “leggy”, the problem usually is that they are not getting enough sun.

When this happened to us we were growing our seedlings in a small lean-to shed that we had turned into a greenhouse with clear panels on the ceiling. Unfortunately this wasn’t giving them the light they needed.

They will need strong, direct light, so place them in a windowsill or other area with good lighting, or get a grow light. We’ve picked up the bulbs pretty inexpensively and they work well. Just remember to turn them off at night so they plants get some darkness!

3. Seeds are Slow to Germinate

It’s so disappointing to check on your greens expecting to see growth and find that nothing is happening. I’ve been there! However, there are a few things you can do to help in this situation.

First, ensure that you did not flood your seeds. Leaving them in a soupy soil can rot them before they’ve even had a chance to sprout, so ensure that the soil is moist, but never wet.

Next, be sure you have soaked your sunflower seeds long enough. This is one seed that really needs a good soak – 8 hours minimum but ideally 12 or even up to 24. This will help the seedling emerge from the tough shell.

Finally, make sure you bought quality seeds. Seeds from different companies will have different germination and growth rates, so be careful when picking out your seeds.

Common Questions about Sunflower Microgreens

Do you soak sunflower microgreens?

Absolutely. The very first step is to soak the seeds to help them germinate more quickly and easily. Soaking time should ideally be 12 to 24 hours.

Are sunflower greens good for you?

All microgreens are amazing sources of nutrition, with up to 40 times the nutrition of their larger counterparts. Sunflower microgreens, in particular, are amazing sources of zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.

Can you eat sunflower microgreens?

Since we don’t normally eat the greens on sunflowers, many people mistakenly believe that sunflowers don’t make good microgreens. However, they would be mistaken. Sunflower microgreens can be eaten raw or cooked and taste like raw sunflower seeds, only much more nutritious.

How long does it take to grow sunflower microgreens?

Start to finish, you should expect to consume your nutritious microgreens in 8-14 days. This includes the time for soaking, planting, and growing. You can harvest your crop as early as 5 days but it’s best to wait until the first true leaves appear.

Can you grow sunflower microgreens without soil?

Sunflower microgreens are one of the best micro veggies to grow without soil. They form an amazing root system that can hold up the plant without soil. See the steps in our article for more information.

Can you use bird sunflower seeds for microgreens?

You can, but be aware they have not been approved for human consumption. These seeds should be sanitized before sprouting (use the hyrodgen peroxide) and check often for mold. These also do not have a guaranteed germination rate, so you never know for sure what you’re getting.

Health Benefits of Sunflower Microgreens

These little greens pack a significant nutritional punch. Just because they are small doesn’t mean they aren’t mighty!!

We know that microgreens can have up to 40 times more nutrients than their larger counterparts from this study. Other studies have indicated that eating these tiny sunflower greens could be even better for you than eating the raw seeds, especially when it comes to how well you body can use the magnesium and zinc.

These little greens are also an amazing source of protein (yes – protein in a veggy!). They are a source of complete protein. In fact, according to Hometown Acres, they are “considered to be the most balanced of all the sources of amino acids, helping to repair muscle tissue ad aid in enzymatic functions in the body.”

These little guys are also a great source of Vitamins A, B complex, D, E and minerals like zinc, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.

Man, this makes me want to grow another batch for my family right now!!

What to Grow Next…

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