If you love the nutty taste of sunflower seeds, you’re going to adore these sunflower microgreens. They keep all the flavor while adding a crunchy texture and ample supply of nutrients. Plus, they’re super fast and easy to grow!
So what sets sunflower microgreens apart from full sunflower plants? They’re still the same species that grow into giant yellow blooms, but they’re harvested much sooner. When growing microgreens, we’re after the cotyledons, which are the first leaves to emerge from the seed. Sunflower seeds are excellent candidates here because they grow two round, plump cotyledons that are perfect for snacking.
Whether you’re growing sunflower microgreens in a small apartment or large backyard, you’re sure to enjoy the results. After only 2 short weeks, you can be adding these nutritious seedlings to your salads, sandwiches, soups, and even scrambled eggs. With such a short growing period and tasty rewards, what do you have to lose?
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Sunflower Microgreens Quick Info
|Soak:||24 hours in 12 hour increments|
|Ideal Harvest:||8-14 days|
Growing Sunflower Microgreens
Growing microgreens is super easy, and learning to grow sunflower microgreens is no exception. Just gather the materials you need to grow, clear a space, and watch your garnish grow!
- Sunflower seeds: 1 cup covers about 100 square inches. We like these organic black oil sunflower seeds from True Leaf Market. They have conventional black oil sunflower seeds too!
- Containers: at least 2 shallow planting trays, like these ones.
- Growing medium: something light and fine-grained, like Espoma Seed Starting Mix. You could also use coconut coir!
- Light: We recommend the Agrobrite T5 from our grow light guide.
- Misting bottle: a good, sturdy bottle with a mist setting, like this.
For black oil sunflower microgreens, we recommend a shallow container so you’ll be able to harvest the seedlings easily. Punch a few drainage holes in if it doesn’t already have them. As for the soil, you need something with a fine grain. Otherwise, the baby roots may have a hard time taking hold and growing evenly.
You don’t have to worry much about fertilizer or soil nutrients because the sunflower sprouts are getting everything they need to grow from the seed. As for light, sunflower microgreens actually don’t need as much as other microgreens but still love the extra light a good setup will provide!
The first step of growing microgreens is to soak the seeds. This softens the hard outer shell and helps the black oil sunflower seeds germinate quickly. Because they have such a tough hull, it’s recommended to soak these seeds for 24 hours total. A minimum of 4 hours will do in a pinch, but the longer they soak the better they’ll sprout.
Dump your sunflower microgreen seeds in a bowl of room-temperature water (too much heat will sterilize them). After 12 hours, empty the bowl, rinse the seeds, and refill it. You may take them out and move on to planting after another 12 hours. Or, you can wait until the seeds start to crack open.
Before you plant, pour some water in the bottom of the growing tray and layer soil on top. The soil will absorb the water up instead of letting it soak to the bottom, where it can grow fungus. Fill the soil line just below the top of the tray, compress it slightly, and make it smooth.
Now, growing microgreens throws out the rule book of planting. We’re going to be crowding the seeds on top of the soil so every space is covered. Avoid overlapping seeds though, as this will interfere with their growth. There’s no need to cover them with soil – the plants will be harvested before they get too top heavy.
Give the sunflower seeds a misting to aid germination and keep them in place. Then, put a second tray on top of the seeds to keep things dark. The seeds are used to germinating underground, so they’ll love the cover. Don’t work about the tray being too heavy for them – they’ve been known to collectively lift 5 pounds!
Maintaining the microgreens has to be the most fun part. You won’t believe how fast they grow! Keep the lid on while the microgreen sunflower seeds are sprouting and continue to mist them twice per day. Within a few days, the seeds will sprout into baby sunflower microgreens! They’ll most likely be discolored from lack of light, which is your cue to remove the cover.
Mimic the sun with your grow light by turning it on for 12-18 hours each day. The closer the light is to the tray, the better. We want to grow sunflower microgreens that are short and compact, not lanky and etiolated.
When the soil begins to dry out, water them from the bottom by placing the tray inside a larger tray of water. This method ensures that the sunflower microgreens stay dry, preventing any fungus growth.
Sunflower seeds are particularly prone to fungus diseases like damping off, so keep an eye out for that. If you notice any white growth on the seedlings, treat them with grapefruit seed extract. Check out some other potential growing problems here.
Lastly, note that sunflower cotyledons will pop up with the seed hulls still on the leaves. You can remove them all at once by brushing your hand over the bunch.
Before you know it, the 2 weeks (or less) will be up and you’ll be ready to harvest! The sunflower microgreens should be 3-4 inches long with two cotyledons each. You’ll want to harvest the seedlings before their true leaves start to grow in. Otherwise, the flavor may turn bitter.
To harvest, grab some sharp, clean scissors and a bowl. Hold a section of the sprout tops in one hand and clip just above the soil with the others. Move the microgreens to the bowl and continue with the rest of the tray.
Sunflower greens won’t regrow once cut, but you can always plant more. Just be sure to remove the beheaded roots from the soil first. If the soil has been used a few times already, toss it in the compost bin.
We don’t recommend you wash them until you’re about to use them, but whether or not you wash your harvest at all is up to you. If you know what you put on them and you didn’t pull up dirt when you harvested, feel free to skip the sink. Otherwise, a salad spinner gets the job done well.
Keep the microgreens in a sealed container in the fridge. They should last about a week, but are best used as soon as possible. You can toss them into pretty much any dish for a nutritional boost and nutty flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are sunflower microgreens healthy?
A: Yes! Sunflower sprouts have plenty of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.
Q: How much protein is in sunflower microgreens?
A: 45 grams of these micro greens will give you about 1 gram of protein.
Q: Do sunflower microgreens regrow?
A: No, but they’re easy to replant! Just clear out the old roots and scatter on some fresh seeds.
Q: Can you grow microgreens without soil?
A: It’s possible, but we don’t recommend it (see our case study here).