How to Save Sunflower (Helianthus annus) Seeds

Seed Saving Guide #2747
Family: Asteraceae
Binomial name: Helianthus annus

Flower Type Perfect, self-incompatible
Pollination Insect pollinated
Isolation Distance 500m
Other Isolation Methods Cover flowers with paper bags and hand pollinate.
Population Required for Viable Seeds 5
Population Required to Maintain Variety 20-50
When to Harvest When the back of the flower heads turn yellow and the seeds release easily from the seed head.
How to Harvest

Cut seed heads from plants and lay them in a single layer in a protected place until they are completely dry. Remove seeds from the seed head by hand, or rub heads across a screen or metal mesh to remove the seeds.

How to Clean

Screen and winnow to remove chaff if necessary.

Image of Seeds Sunflower (Helianthus annus)

May cross-pollinate with other Helianthus species. Protect seeds from birds by covering the seed heads with mesh bags

What is Seed Saving?

Seed saving is the practice of collecting and storing mature seeds from open-pollinated plants. By allowing plants to reach full maturity and harvesting the seeds, they can be cleaned, dried, and stored for future use. 

  • To learn the techniques and methods needed to save seeds in your garden, we recommend reading our seed saving series.
  • To view a combined table of all our seed saving guides view our Seed Saving Chart.
  • To browse our seed saving guides individually click here.