Growing sunflower (Helianthus annuus) sprouts from seeds yields delicious microgreens with little space and energy. Grown at a sunny windowsill, nutritious baby sunflower sprouts are ready in about one week. Planted outside in gardens or containers, annual sunflower seeds sprout in the same short time period. Thin garden sprouts for healthy snacks and carbohydrates, and allow the rest of the seedlings grow on. By season’s end, the sunny blooms deliver more seeds for indoor sprouting.
Sprouted inside, sunflower seeds deliver simple, year-round microgreens. Layer nice gravel in an 3-inch-deep container with drainage holes, plus include a 2-inch layer of potting soil. Soak whole, shell-on seeds in water for 8 to 12 hours about 1 1/2 cups a square foot. Place soaked seeds in a single layer in the container, and press them in the soil. Water gently, and cover with a newspaper layer; locate the sunniest windowsill at your house for the container. Water the newspaper daily until sprouts lift it up in two to four days. Then remove the paper and then continue daily watering. Gently remove the shells from rising sprouts, and harvest once the first leaves accessible.
When you would like to grow some sprouts to maturity, begin your seeds where you want to allow them to grow. Sunflower seedlings develop long taproots which don’t handle disturbance well. Sunflowers got their name for a reason — the more sun your planting site receives, the better. Select a spot that gets full, direct sun for at least six to eight hours each day. Sunflowers aren’t fussy about soil types. They do well in soils from sand to clay, but they do require good drainage.
Prepping Your Soil
Loose soil lets sunflower sprouts sink their taproots deep. Before planting, layer 3 to 4 inches of organic compost over the region. Work compost into the soil 6 to 8 inches deep, loosening and aerating the garden as you work. Small sunflower varieties thrive with no fertilizers, but giant varieties feed heavily. When bananas are yearning for great heights, a balanced, slow-release, granular fertilizer helps. Broadcast 14-14-14 fertilizer, or a comparable ratio, at a rate of 3 to 4 pounds each 4 square feet. Wear gloves and safety eye wear, and don’t allow the fertilizer contact your skin. Work fertilizer into the soil, and water the region well.
Planting Sunflower Seeds
Plant sunflower seeds outside in the spring no longer than fourteen days before your area’s final anticipated frost. In frost-free climates, spring planting and summer warmth still do the job best. For garden plantings, form a furrow 1 to 2 inches deep, and plant seeds around 6 inches apart. If you are growing several varieties, plant seeds according to final height. Taller varieties go to the north of shorter varieties so nobody ends up in shade. Sprouts arrive in seven to 10 days following planting. Based on number, mature sunflowers take an extra 70 to 110 days.
Caring for Sunflower Sprouts
Thin the baby sunflowers once they reach 3 to 4 inches tall. More room leads to stronger, thicker stems and bigger heads. Thin large varieties to a single plant each 2 feet, with smaller varieties at 1- to 1 1/2-foot intervals. Dwarf varieties grown in containers or cutting gardens manage 2- to 6-inch spacing. Thinner smaller and stems flowers develop — perfect for bouquets. Water sprouts deeply, and then allow the soil to dry before watering again. This promotes strong, deep root growth. For large varieties, stake sunflower comes after the sprouts mature. Heavy with seeds, the heads need extra support in wind and tonsils.