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How To Dry Sunflowers [A Complete Guide]

Sunflowers can be a beautiful decoration that brightens up the room. Their seeds can also provide some tasty snacks. If you're wondering how to dry your sunflowers to preserve them to use as decorations or edible seeds, don't worry, we've gone ahead and researched how to dry the flowers successfully and how to use them properly.

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Drying sunflowers is actually a very straightforward process, but if the steps aren't taken with the required care, you can end up with a moldy flower head. Sunflower heads hold a ton of moisture and even a sappy substance. The best way to dry them out is to follow these steps:

  1. Set the flowers in a vase with or without water and enjoy them while allowing them to die.
  2. Rub off the pollen heads to remove moisture once the colors fade.
  3. Hang the flowers upside down by the stem in a warm ventilated area; wait a couple of weeks to allow them to dry completely.
  4. Optional: remove the seeds from the head and allow them to dry for an additional two weeks.

Now that you have a simple guide for drying sunflowers, you might still have a few questions. We encourage you to continue reading as we go further in-depth about drying sunflower heads and what to do with them. We will also talk about preserving and using the seeds that come off of the dead sunflower head and some best practices for drying techniques.

sunflowers, dry head lying on an old windowsill, How To Dry Sunflowers [A Complete Guide]

Drying Sunflowers

Drying sunflowers, in general, is a straightforward process. However, it is also really easy to mess it up. If you want to get the best-dried heads for decorating or any other tasks, you'll need to take care with each drying step. Here we will go more in-depth than at the beginning of the post.

1. Let Them Die

First of all, you'll need to wait on the flowers to die. After cutting the stems, keep the flowers in a place you can enjoy them. Whether you place them in water or not doesn't matter for the drying process, only for how long you want them to look fresh. 

Wait for the flowers to die and their colors to fade. The petals will dry up and start falling off. Additionally, try to harvest your flowers after a few days of sunshine and warm weather so you can start drying when the flowers have less moisture in them.

2. Remove Moisture & Rub Off Pollen

Once the colors have faded, the best way to test how ready your flowers are is to rub a finger across the pollen heads. If it comes right off, then the sunflowers are ready. Rub all of the pollen off and remove any dry petals that might still be hanging on. Skipping this step can allow mold to begin growing on your flowers, so it is very important.

3. Hang Up the Sunflowers to Dry

For this step, you need some kind of string. Honestly, any kind will do, from twine to a fishing line or yarn. Hang the flowers upside down to continue the drying process, and make sure there is air-space between the heads so mold can't grow in between them. The drying time from this step can be anywhere from three to five weeks, depending on the room temperature and humidity.

4. Optional: Remove the Seeds

Once the sunflowers are fully dried, you can remove the seeds from the flower head. Remember, it's also perfectly fine to leave the seeds attached if you think it looks better as a decoration this way. Alternatively, you can snack on the removed seeds or save them for planting more sunflowers the next year. More to come on seed preservation!

What do you do with dead sunflower heads?

Freshly harvested and dried sunflower heads on white background wooden rustic table, seeds ready for harvesting with copy space

Dead sunflower heads can be great for decorating around the house. They can be incorporated into Fall wreaths or hung up around the house. You can also harvest seeds from the flower heads for eating or planting.

Dried sunflower seeds are great for birdfeeders or used in recipes for suet cakes for wildlife as well. Birds will eat the seeds out of the heads before the flowers die. If you want to avoid this, you can put a paper bag over the sunflower's head leading up to harvesting it. 

If these aren't tempting options for using your sunflower heads, then use them as compost. Burying the heads in a compost pile or your garden will help keep the soil in good shape for the next plants you put into the garden. You can also do this after you've removed the seeds for other purposes. 

How do you preserve fresh sunflower seeds?

To preserve fresh seeds, you'll want to dry them. We'll discuss how to toast and roast them for eating later on in the article. To preserve seeds for a longer period of time to plant them, you'll want to start by letting them dry out overnight or over a couple of days. After they've been given some time, place them in an airtight container and keep it dry. The seeds can last and stay viable for planting for a couple of years in this state.

As an important disclaimer, the seeds will not stay safe to eat for years without freezing. They simply will remain viable for planting new sunflowers if stored in an airtight container. 

Can you freeze raw sunflower seeds?

peeled sunflower seeds on white surface.

You can freeze raw sunflower seeds. Keeping them in a pantry only lets raw seeds stay good for a few months. However, freezing them can keep the seeds good for well over a year. Just like drying the sunflower head, it's a really easy process.

Follow the instructions for drying out both the sunflower head and the seeds. The drier they are at this point, the better. Once dried, put the seeds in an airtight container or sealed freezer bag and toss them in the freezer. That's the whole process and will keep the seeds from spoiling for at least a year from the freezing date.

How do you dry sunflower seeds?

Organic sunflower seeds full frame food background

You'll want to dry sunflower seeds depending on what your plan for them is. If you plan on eating them, the best thing to do is to toast them immediately. This will remove the excess moisture leftover in the seeds and kill any bacteria. If the seeds have had the shells removed, you can toast them in a pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes. With the shells on or not, you can also use your oven and bake them at 325 degrees for eight minutes.

If you plan on using the seeds for planting more sunflowers, then toasting them is not a good idea. Remove the seeds from the sunflower head and place them on a paper towel. At that point, you'll just need to allow them time to dry for at least two weeks.

How do you save sunflower seeds for planting next year?

At this point in the article, we have pretty much gone over how to save seeds for the next year. You'll want to follow the instructions for drying out the sunflower head. Then after you've dried the head and harvested the seeds, you'll want to give them time to dry off. This keeps mold from growing on your seeds. Once they've had time to dry, either overnight or over a few days, put the seeds inside an airtight container and store them in a dry place. 

If you want to use the seeds for planting, don't toast them. That kills the viability of the seeds and just makes them tasty. You'll also want to avoid freezing them. While some seeds may remain viable, freezer-burned seeds won't grow into new flowers. Leaving them in an airtight container in your pantry or greenhouse is the best way to save them for next year. 

Drying Sunflowers

sunflowers, dry head lying on an old windowsill, How To Dry Sunflowers [A Complete Guide]

After reading through this article, you should have a good idea about the process of drying sunflowers and how to use the heads after they've died. Whether you need a beautiful piece for incorporating into a wreathe or want to harvest the seeds, drying sunflowers is a worthwhile and easy process. For more ideas on using plants as decor items, check out this guide: 17 Living Room Plant Decor Ideas

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