Sunflower Greens

Black Oil Sunflower - In Shell.

Often called Sunnys, these Greens are absolutely Delicious! Sunflower Greens are the quintessential Green. If you want to grow Greens, start here. There is nothing else like them!  Black Oil Seed is not always 100% black. Sometimes the seed is black with a white stripe. If you receive striped seed from us, rest assured it is STILL BLACK OIL. See the Notes tab on this page for specifics about our current seed.

Note: This seed is for Micro-Greens only. If you want sprouts Get These.

All of our seeds come to us from sources who are certified organic.

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Print Instructions

Put 1/4 cup of seed - for a 5x5 inch Tray, in a jar.

Sunflower seeds float. To Soak them all evenly, fill the jar to the top with cool water and cover with a lid.

Soak for 8-12 hours.

Drain off soak water. Never Soak them again.

Rinse thoroughly.

Drain thoroughly.

Rinse and Drain again with cool water - every 8-12 hours.

When your seeds have the tiniest root showing, plant them on a thoroughly moistened medium. We use 75% Coconut Coir and 25% Earthworm Castings.

Cover your crop with another weighted tray or plate, to keep light out and moisture in.

Keep your medium moist by watering gently as needed.

When your plants have begun to push up the cover, remove the cover and move your crop to a well lit location.

Harvest when the leaves are open and most of them have shed their hulls.

Cut just above the medium, with a scissors or sharp knife.

Print Instructions

How much seed you Soak depends on the area you are planting.
Yields vary depending on method used, climate and technique, but are roughly 7 - 8 pounds of Greens per pound of seed planted.


When growing these Greens: You really MUST Pre-Sprout before planting.

Put seed into a jar, bowl or your Sprouter.
Fill that which you are using with cool (60-70 degree) water.
ESSENTIAL SOAKING NOTE: Whole Sunflower Seeds float.
To get them all to soak up water well, so they grow well, it is necessary to keep them all under water during their soak. We do this with a mason jar - topped with a screen lid, or a plate atop a bowl, or an Easy Sprout with a flat lid snapped on-top. Whatever you use - keep them all underwater!

Allow your seeds to Soak for 8-12 hours.

Empty the seeds into your Sprouter (if necessary).
Drain off the soak water.
You may water plants with it if you like - it has nutrients in it.

Rinse thoroughly with cool (60-70°) water.
Drain thoroughly.

Set your Sprouter anywhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature (70° is optimal) between Rinses.
This is where your sprouts do their growing. We use a counter top - in the corner of our kitchen, but where the sprouter won't get knocked over by cats, dogs, kids or us. We don't mind the indirect sunlight or the 150 watts of room light, because light just does not matter much. A plant can only perform photosynthesis when it has leaves. Until then light has little if any effect. Sprouts also happen to like air-circulation, so don't hide your sprouts.
We'll get to the light later, after planting our Greens.

Rinse and Drain again in 8-12 hours.
And, perhaps one more...
Rinse and Drain in 8-12 hours.
And, conceivably one more...
Rinse and Drain in 8-12 hours.

When most of the seeds have sprouted tiny (1/8-1/4 inch) roots, or even better, when they are just showing the hint of a root, it is time to plant. This is typically after just 2-3 Rinse and Drain cycles.

Planting and Growing

Coconut Coir is our all-time favorite growing medium. It holds moisture better than any medium we've ever worked with. It releases nutrients as the plants grow. It's less messy than soil - though it feels like the loveliest, loamiest soil you can imagine. The only trick to Coir is getting the medium properly moist. Saturated is perfect. Puddles is too much. We mix Earthworm castings in. 75% Coir + 25% Castings. We fill our tray ¾ full. We LOVE this mix! Your Sunnys will taste better and grow stronger using this medium, but if you insist - you can use...

Hemp Felt: Prepare the pad: Cut it to fit your Tray if necessary. Soak it in water or better yet, Kelp Fertilizer enriched water (You don't NEED fertilizer, but we use it when we grow without soil.) until thoroughly saturated. Spread the wet pad across the bottom of your tray. Proceed...

Spread seeds evenly on thoroughly moistened medium.
Though some literature will tell you that your seeds should not ever lay atop each other, we have found from years of experience and thousands of pounds of Greens grown that that is bunk! You will learn for yourself that some Greens (like these) produce a plant that takes up less room than the seed, and so, to maximize your yield, your seeds must lay atop each other to some degree. The thing to watch is this: If you find mold or fungal problems in your Greens, lessen the amount of seed you plant. The hotter/more humid your climate is the more of an issue the mold/fungus is. As always, you need to adapt to your own climate and seasonal conditions. And learn as you go - this is really easy and fun stuff to learn, and what is better than learning?!

Cover the planted tray with an inverted tray (the Cover Tray) - to keep light out and moisture in. Your covering tray should have holes or slits in it to allow air circulation.

Alternatively - as in our video - cover your crop with weight. 2-4 pounds of weight sitting directly atop your planted seeds will help the crop grow evenly. If growing in a black plastic tray - place the bottom of another tray on your planted seeds and fill it with a bag that has 2+ pounds in it. If using our SSSprouter - use a big plate to help distribute the weight evenly.

Place in a low-light, room temperature location.
70° is always optimal but these Greens will grow very well in cooler or slightly warmer temperatures also.

Water lightly once or twice a day.
The goal is to keep the sprouts moist until their roots bury themselves in the medium - at which point your goal is to keep the medium moist. Spraying the sprouts is best - if you use a sprayer in your sink or a hand sprayer - just try to make sure that every sprout gets rinsed and quenched until they bury their roots.
Hemp Felt: You will have a much tastier crop when you include Kelp Fertilizer.

Once the roots are buried all you need to do is keep the medium moist - the plants will get the moisture they need through their roots.

Use the Drip Tray to hold some water. The roots will actually sit in this, so don't go crazy - too much can drown your plants and/or lead to fungal or mold problems. Just leave as much water as the Greens can drink in a day and then add more the following day. The amount is dependant on the size of your tray and the climate (humidity especially) you're growing in, so you'll have to learn this for yourself. As an example, if you are using our 1 Crop Tray Set - which is 10 inches x 20 inches - start with 1-2 cups in the Drip Tray. Lift the Planting Tray to see how much is left after 4, 8 and 12 hours. If the Drip Tray is dry add more water - if there is still water 24 hours later then cut back the next time you add water. Pretty simple really, basically common sense eh? It is really a time saver and produces happy healthy Greens.

Once again, we do recommend Kelp Fertilizer enriched water for Hemp Felt growers. Coconut Coir growers may use it too of course, but if you are using nitrogen rich Earthworm Castings in your medium, you can easily skip the kelp.

Greening your Sunnys

Uncover your Greens in 3-4 days, or when they are about an inch tall, or when they push the covering tray up! They really will do that!

Move your crop to a well lit location. Direct sunlight is a very good idea for Greens. Keep your medium moist. The bigger your plants grows the more quickly they drink water.Watch them grow.


Harvesting your crop is just a matter of cutting the plants when they are about 2-4 inches tall and have green leaves. Cut the plants just above the mediums surface.

Harvest should occur BEFORE "true leaves" begin to show. They are leaves which will appear from the center of the first 2 leaves. If you see a few Greens with these tiny leaves forming then get your scissors out - the Greens get less tasty (a bit bitter) if let go too long.

Shells: Sunflower Greens will shed their Shells as their leaves open, but there are always some that are slow to shed. We remove the loose ones like this: Hold the tray at a steep angle and brush your hand back and forth over the top of the Greens. Some leaves won't shed their shells - you will either need to peel the shells off of those, or discard those Sunnys. Eating the shell is generally frowned upon by one's stomach, and is texturally not in keeping with the tender perfection of the other Sunnys, se we advise against it =;-).

If you are going to store your crop, you want your Greens to be as dry as possible, to the touch before refrigerating. So, don't water too close to harvest time.

Transfer your crop to a plastic bag - or better yet try our excellent Produce Storage Bag (they actually extend the shelf life of produce - we use them in our home). Whatever sealed container you choose - put them in your refrigerator.

Sunflowers to start with:

1/4 - 1/3 cup for a 5" square Tray.
1 - 1 1/2 cup for an 10" square Tray.
2 - 3 Cups for an 10 inch x 20 inch Tray.

There are about 4 cups of Sunflower seed per pound.

The surest way to know what amount of seed to use: Spread dry seed on the bottom of that in which you will be growing (i.e. your tray) so that the seed is spread evenly but densely.

One more time: We use a lot of Seeds and though some literature will tell you that your seeds should not ever lay atop each other, we have found from years of experience and thousands of pounds of Greens grown that that is bunk! The thing to watch is this: If you find mold or fungal problems in your Greens then lessen the amount of seed you plant next time. The hotter/more humid your climate is the more of an issue the mold/fungus is. As always, you need to adapt to your own climate and seasonal conditions. And learn as you go - this is really easy and fun stuff to learn!

Dry Sunflower Seeds await their Soak.

Here is a visual representation - a picture - which shows you that Sunflower Seeds float. Keeping them under water is accomplished by screwing a screen lid on top of the jar.You really MUST do this. Really.

12 hours later... Soaked, Rinsed and Drained.

12 hours later... another Rinse/Drain cycle. We see roots beginning to emerge at this point, so we plant now.

We planted our barely sprouted (pre-sprouted) Sunflowers atop the thoroughly moistened medium of our choosing, then watered it.Cover the tray and let time move forward...

24 hours later...

24 hours later...

24 hours later...

24 hours later...

24 hours later...

24 hours later...

24 hours later...

24 hours later...

You may have harvested before now, which is swell - but if you haven't yet, now would be a good time. Pinch a Sunny every day along the way.Taste it. When do you like them best?That's when they're just right.

Greens grown from Sunflowers are remarkabley delicious. If you don't feel you know us well enough to believe it, let's give you a taste: Look under your bird feeder in summertime for a sorta thick stemmed plant about 4-6" tall, with 2 leaves on top. Pick it off above the soil - wash it well - and eat it ..... See? Fantastic aren't they?!

We have claimed for years, that Sunnys need to be planted on soil with 25% Earthworm Castings to achieve their full (awesome!) potential in flavor and vigor, but we do have soilless alternatives. Soilless mediums called Hemp Felt and the amazingly moisture retentive Coconut Coir, when used in conjunction with a liquid fertilizer, like Kelp, and/or Earthworm Castings - when using Coir, produces wonderful Greens without the mess of soil. Every plant we've grown using soilless methods has turned out wonderfully, though Sunnys grown on a mix of 75% Coconut Coir + 25% Earthworm Castings are as good as any soil grown crop we ever grew.

Our current Black Oil Sunflower Seeds are all black.

Seed Shelf Life: 2 years. Store in cool, dark, dry spot. Store in freezer to extend shelf life.

Our Current Crop

Black Oil Seed is not always 100% black. Sometimes the seed is black with a white stripe. If you receive striped seed from us, rest assured it is STILL BLACK OIL. See the Notes tab on this page for specifics about our current seed.

The Recent History of Sunflowers

Our farmer friend Mark has been growing Sunflowers for decades.  He grows Open-Pollinated (OP) seeds and Hybrid seeds.  Mark developed his own OP variety by selecting seeds for years - he chooses the plants that produce the best heads, fastest - and plants the seeds they produce, the following season. Through years of such scrutiny and selection he has established an Open-Pollinated seed (one that will produce consistent plants every year). It may not sound like much, but it is an enormous amount of work.  Way to go Mark!  Years continue to pass and he comes through with great seeds every time!  Sunflower Greens are the only Hybrid seed we've ever sold. There's nothing wrong with hybrids. Hybrids are NOT in any way the same thing as genetically modified organisms (GMOs)! It's just that the seeds produced from open pollinated seeds (by the seed saving farmer or the home gardener) will produce consistent plants.  Hybrids won't do that.  It's of zero concern to us growing Greens.

So, we usually have Mark's Open-Pollinated (OP) seed - but if we run out we have his hybrid.  The hybrids also produce wonderful Greens. Sometimes they are big seeds with a white stripe down their sides. I was hesitant to bring them in for fear that you all would think they were Confectionary as opposed to Black Oil Sunflowers. Though that distinction makes absolutely no difference in a seed producing Greens, it would conflict with our seed page which specifies Black Oil Sunflowers. So, to clarify - they are Black Oil but they have a white stripe. They are hybrids, so if you plant some in your garden don't expect the seed they produce to look the same. The vast majority of you will be growing them into Sunflower Greens so none of this makes any difference to you. They grow a great crop of Greens! Though it is always a good idea to store seeds in a freezer (it extents their lifetime many times over), it is a particularly good idea with these Sunflowers. Freezing them will help them grow better crops longer.

I try to keep the Notes tab on our Sunflower Greens page updated so you know what you'll get, but I don't always remember little things (or big things for that matter). Whichever you receive you can count on them being the best Sunflower Seeds available - thanks to Mark.  

Planting Density

The more densely you plant the seed the less air circulates around the individual plants. This can cause some fungal growth - we call it “fuzzies”. This is not a problem, except that it is unattractive. Some crops will have mold or rot issues. That is a problem. If you get brown pockets at the soil level, where the plants just die, you are probably in need of more air circulation, so plant fewer seeds next time. If you do encounter rot spots like that, scoop them out - if you're growing on a fluffy medium, and try to nurse your crop to completion. In summer we grow our Greens outside (from the point when we uncover the tray) for optimal air circulation.

Planting Medium

We grew Greens - on soil - in Trays, for over 2 decades. But, we have options these days - soilless Mediums -  Hemp Felt, and our all-time favorite - Coconut Coir. Hemp Felt is a thin organic material that you soak before planting upon. It holds moisture and is the least messy and compact medium we know of.  Coconut Coir acts very much like soil, but it holds water so amazingly well and is much less messy due to the long coconut fibers it includes, that we now use it - ALWAYS! 

Amending Hemp Felt with organic liquid Kelp Fertilizer, and Coir with Earthworm Castings provide your plants all the nutrients they need to grow.

Soil Notes

If you want to use something else - vrtually any soil will do. These days our base is always Coconut Coir. We used sterile composted cow manure for the tens of thousands of Trays we grew during our days as professional growers, but any sterile bagged soil - or Coconut Coir - will do quite nicely, and should be available at any garden center, and be inexpensive (depending on the general cost of living where you are of course). You can use expensive soil if you prefer - we might even be selling some - it is your choice - always. The deal is this - Greens are aided by the availability of the nutrient Nitrogen. Nitrogen is the nutrient responsible for plant growth (a very good thing when growing lettuce, spinach, collards or other leafy crops, but too much nitrogen is bad if growing peppers or tomatoes or any plant where the fruit is what we eat). Manures contain varrying amounts of nitrogen depending on the animal that originally produced it. Too much nitrogen will burn plants - almost literally burn them - hence the word HOT is used in reference to nitrogen. The higher the nitrogen content the HOTTER the manure (or fertilizer) is considered. Cow manure is the least hot - it was perfect for our needs - it supplies the growing plants with a little extra boost. Chicken, other bird manures and Bat Guano (another word for manure) are much hotter, and Earthworm castings are hotter still (castings is yet another word for manure). The catch is this: Greens, Grass and Sprouts are theoretically all too young to benefit from nitrogen and other nutrients. It is written that every seed has, within itself, all the nutrients it needs to grow to the cotyledon stage. That's as far as we grow any of our seeds (with the sometimes exception of Micro-Greens). So - though it is contradictory, it is our experience that nitrogen does help Greens in some cases (most obviously when growing Sunflower Greens). Like we always say - EXPERIMENT FOR YOURSELF. Draw your own conclusions. If you are familiar with our rap on Dogma, you'll agree with us when we say; Just because it is written does not mean that it is so. Whatever the reality - a little nitrogen can't hurt. 

Hydroponic Greens

Meaning: Growing with nothing but water and liquid nutrients.  We do not grow hydroponic Greens. We have tried but have never gotten the yields we get with a medium, and the flavor of the crops is nowhere near as delightful. They taste watered down. Now that we have a soilless alternatives we are even less interested in hydroponic Greens growing. But, if you want to try - go to Val at Go Green/Green Smoothie - she is the queen of home hydroponics. Tell her us Sproutpeople sent you!

Tray Note

Your Planting Tray (the one with the medium in it) MUST have drainage holes or slits! Nothing will grow in a medium that can not drain - that condition is commonly called "flooded". When using Hemp Felt, your Planting Tray must also have drainage, but we do use the Drip Tray to hold some water at times in the growing process. (You'll see the TIP in our instructions.)

As I've said time and time again on the site, we hate dogma, so take my dogma with a grain of salt. You can grow in trays without drainage (the amazing people at the Hippocrates Health Institute have long done so), but you do have to be able to drain excess water away. Tipping is a possibility, but we think it risky - especially for the novice grower, hence my dogma.

Re-Growing Your Crop

Greens can produce a 2nd crop - so you may continue to water after you cut your first crop. The 2nd and crop will not be as tender, and it may have fungal problems, but it is good to try growing a 2nd crop. Decide for yourself if it is worth it! . It's worth a try if only for the experience and the knowledge gained.

Recommended Sprouters for Sunflower Greens

  1. Tray Set - Single Crop

    Tray Set - Single Crop

  2. Stainless Steel Sprouter

    Stainless Steel Sprouter

    $26.50 / Units
  3. The three 10x10 Trays that make up our 1/2 Crop Tray Set.

    Tray Set - 1/2 Crop

    $14.00 / Units
  4. The 4 Crop Tray Set includes a Solid 10x10 Tray and eight 5x5 Trays - 4 for Growing and 4 as Covers.

    Tray Set - 4 Crop

    $13.50 / Units
  5. small Stainless Steel Sprouter

    small Stainless Steel Sprouter

    $22.00 / Units
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