If you’re anything like me you’ve been patiently waiting all summer for your sunflowers to bloom. We’ve really had a banner year with our sunflower patch. We grew several varieties which produced weeks worth of enjoyment well into October. Sadly, they are beginning to fade as we head deeper into fall….which brings me to the topic of my post!
Did you know it’s super easy to dry out sunflowers? Here is just a short list of everything you can do with sunflowers:
- Make a front door wreath (which we’ll show you how to do in this post)
- Dry the sunflower heads for fall decorating
- Toast the seeds for eating or gifting
- Dry seeds for planting next season
- Give away dried seeds as an inexpensive garden gift for friends, neighbors or family (which we’ll also show you how to do)
- Dry seeds for feeding wild birds or chickens
There’s a few things you’ll want to make sure that you keep in mind as you harvest your sunflowers to ensure success! That’s why we’re showing you the step by step process of how to harvest, dry & save seeds. We’ll even show you TWO easy DIY Christmas gift you can make with sunflower seeds. So let’s get started!
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|How to Dry Sunflowers|
Supplies for Drying Sunflowers:
Step 1: Selecting “Dry” Flowers For Harvest
It’s really important to keep in mind that the head of the sunflower contains a LOT of moisture. Sunflowers even contain a substance similar to tree sap which is really sticky! Given the high level of moisture & sap it’s best to wait as long as possible before cutting the flower head. If harvested too early you could end up with MOLD forming on the back of the flower head because it cannot disperse all of the moisture quickly enough. This has happened to me several times….so I can share with you exactly when to harvest.
Whether you are harvesting from your garden or from the grocery store you’ll want to wait for all the flower petals to completely dry up and fall away if possible. Remove any dry petals that haven’t fallen yet.
After the petals have dried and fallen away you’ll want to “test” to see if the flower is ready. The test is pretty simple. Simply rub a finger over the center of the flower where the seeds are. If the pollen heads fall away under the pressure of your finger it’s time to harvest.
I live in the pacific northwest and we see a large amount of early fall rain. I usually have to harvest my flowers earlier than I’d like so they aren’t completely soaked with excessive moisture from rain water. You’ll want to do the same if you live in Washington or Oregon. Regardless of where you live, harvest your flowers after you’ve had a few days of sunshine/dry weather if possible.
2. Remove Sources of Moisture from the Flower Head
As I mentioned earlier, these suckers contain a lot of moisture and sap. Therefore we need to remove as much of the moisture from the flower as possible. This means we need to take all the pollen heads off of the seeds and remove any remaining dry petals. If these are left intact on the flower head you’ll most likely be left with a moldy flower head from trapped moisture. The pollen heads are removed by simply rubbing them off with a finger (see previous photo). The pollen heads in the very center of the flower are usually the toughest to remove….especially if you have to harvest early. Leaving a small amount of pollen heads in the center is okay. You can usually scrape those off after the flower head has a few days to dry. The flower head should look like the below photo when complete:
3. Hang Flowers Upside Down w/Twine in a Warm Area
You’ll want to hang the flowers upside down to dry out completely in the warmest area possible with jute twine. Keep in mind that garden flowers will most likely have spiders and bugs so inside the house may not be the best area. Unless you have a high tolerance for spiders, I suggest hanging the flowers in the garage or a green house if you have one.
Make sure there is plenty of airspace between each flower head. If one flower head is leaning against another there is the potential for mold to form in between them. It can take anywhere from 3-5 weeks to dry the flower head completely. Drying time depends on the size of the flower head, room temperature & humidity.
4. Remove Seeds From Flower Heads
When the flower heads are completely dry they should look similar to the below image. The formerly green, leafy areas have turned brown. The seeds are dry to the touch. The flower head can be removed from the stock at this point.
If you want to harvest the seeds, simply remove the seeds from the flower head and place them on a dry paper towel in the warmest place you can. Dry the seeds for two more weeks. This should ensure that any moisture remaining in the seeds are drawn out. If your saving the sunflower seeds for eating you can skip the paper towel & toast them in the oven immediately.
5. Packaging/Gifting Seeds For Next Year
I love saving seeds for the next growing season. There’s something to be said about doing things the way my grandmother and her mother and her mother’s mother used to do it. There’s a link to history & self-sufficiency that makes me feel good about seed saving.
It’s really easy to dry and save seeds and if I do it every year I won’t have to buy seeds ever again. Needless to say, I highly encourage you to at least try seed keeping. Maybe start with something easy like sunflowers, pumpkins or tomatoes and work your way up from there.
There’s really only one necessary supply needed….seed envelopes. It’s worth the investment to put your seeds in a dry secure place. I use the self-sealing Proterra Craft Paper Seed Envelopes which you can find on Amazon. They’re heavy duty and seem to be able to absorb small amounts of moisture. They look great decorated as a gift too (as I will demonstrate here shortly)!
|How to Make Christmas Gift Seed Packets|
Even if you’re not a gardener with dry seeds ready to go you can still give a beautiful DIY garden gift! Check out the wildflower seed mixture available year round (in large quantities) to fill your seed envelopes HERE! Below I’ve linked to everything else you’ll need to create a beautiful DIY gift like you see above. You can click on any of the links below for easy shopping:
DIY Christmas Gift Seed Packet Supplies
- Proterra Craft Paper Seed Envelopes
- Sharpie Metallic in Gold
- Hero Arts Shadow Ink in Cup o’Joe Brown
- Floral or a Christmas Themed Stamp
- Craft Paper Gift Tags
- Red & White Bakers Twine
- Clear Quilting Ruler
- Fresh Sprigs of Cedar, Pine, Thyme or Rosemary
- Wildflower Seed Mix in Bulk
1. Gather Your Supplies
2. Stamp Your Proterra Craft Paper Seed Envelopes
I really like the monochromatic color scheme between the craft paper seed envelopes and the cup o’ joe brown ink. The colors work well together for a natural hand made garden gift like this. You can use the clear quilting ruler to help align the stamp parallel to the edges of the seed envelope.
3. Label Seed Packet with Sharpie Metallic Gold Marker
This is probably the trickiest part of this DIY because not all of us have beautiful handwriting. I like to use a clear quilting ruler to align my writing with the bottom of the seed envelope. If you’re really concerned about the presentation you can always write on the back of the envelope which won’t be seen until the envelope is actually opened. Another option is to print out a separate label using your printer and affix it to the back or front.
I find it’s also helpful to note the year. Usually you write the year for planting….not the actual year the seed is harvested. It’s 2018 so you would write 2019. Seeds keep for 1-2 years so it’s good to know if they are still viable by having a date on the envelope.
4. Wrap Seed Packets w/Bakers Twine, Attach Tag & Greens
Wrap the seed packets in bakers twine several times & tie one knot at the center. Attach the craft paper gift tag and tie a second knot to secure. Tuck one small sprig of greenery behind the bakers twine.
What a quick and easy little DIY Christmas craft! But don’t limit yourself there! What about giving away pumpkin seeds at your next spooky soiree? Just substitute a fall or Halloween themed Stamp!
|How to Make a Dried Sunflower Wreath|
DIY Sunflower Wreath Supply List:
- Sharp Hand Pruners
- Jute Twine or Satin Ribbon
- 15-20 Dried Sunflower Stems with flower heads of varying sizes
- Dried Vine Wreath
- Floral Adhesive
1. Gather Your Supplies
2. Trim Stems & Dry Fit Flowers in Wreath
Using sharp pruners, trim your dried stems to about 5″ in length. Before you glue a single flower down you’ll need to complete a “dry fit” of all the flowers. If you start gluing flowers down without figuring out each flower’s proper place….you’ll find that you are re-working flower placement over and over again and wasting a lot of glue! It’s best to start with your largest sunflower head and use it as your centerpiece for the wreath. Add flower heads of various sizes and colors together. Use smaller flower heads to fill in empty areas.
3. Glue Flowers to Wreath Using Floral Glue
When you are satisfied with the look of your “dry fit” wreath you’ll want to go and glue down all of the flowers using floral glue. Carefully remove each flower one at a time and add floral glue to the stem. Tuck the stem in the same area you had it before.
4. Loop Jute Twine on Back of Wreath & Hang
There are a variety of things you can use to hang your wreath but I prefer the look of jute twine because it matches the wreath color and the flowers.
I hope you enjoyed this detailed DIY and feel encouraged to try seed saving. It’s easy and rewarding! In most cases you’ll have more seeds than you can possibly use. So why not share with your friends, co-workers, neighbors & family!
If you enjoyed this DIY be sure to head over to another DIY project I completed not too long ago: How to Make a Dried Hydrangea Wreath. LOVE DIY AS MUCH AS WE DO? Get our projects in your inbox as soon as they drop! Sign up tor receive our periodic emails with links to our latest posts. Scroll to the bottom of this page and leave us your name and email!
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