I forgot to remove a large sunflower before winter and after the snow hit I was unable to get to it.

The seeds were left in the head all winter but the plant is high enough that it wasn't buried in snow. The head also drooped so the seeds are facing down and therefor protected a bit from rain and could drain.

Any thoughts on if they'll be able to germinate or not? I'm going to give them a try but hoping someone might have some thoughts. I do have other seeds I did harvest but part of me is wondering if this might have been a good way to store the seeds in the first place.

  • I'm surprised there are any left - squirrels and birds should have finished them off long ago.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 18:22
  • @ecnerwal Yeah I was surprised too. Most of them appear to be there. Think it was because the flower plopped over early making it hard for the birds to get to. Plus I have a guard cat patrolling the area for birds and squirels :) Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 22:23

1 Answer 1


If they're still there (not eaten, bored into, etc), then yes, they will grow. I have sunflowers naturalized along the woods' edge in one spot. They return year after year on their own.

If you want to be organised, you won't be able to use seeds that fell on the ground (too hard to find), so you'll have to use what you can come up with out of the old heads.

Rub out all the seeds, and do a quick sort of them putting only whole, full-sized seeds in a pile. Then sort that by looking over the seeds, and only keeping those that have no borer holes, don't feel dry and empty, etc. This actually goes quite fast.

Plant what you have left. Don't expect huge germination rates, but a good bit should grow.

  • Most are still there and seem in good shape. They're fairly large, almost the size of a dime. I grabbed a half dozen to sprout in wet towels to see if anything happens. Last year the radicles emerged on some in about 30 hours. Have pics of the seeds and how I sprouted them here if you're interested organiclawndiy.com/2014/05/… Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 22:26
  • @OrganicLawnDIYGreat! Sounds lie you won't have any trouble at all.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 22:37
  • Of the 6 seeds I put in the paper towel yesterday a couple already sprouted. Will start sorting through them. Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 3:04
  • Yes. But be aware that if you planted particular varieties, they will cross-pollinate. After a few years mine tend to revert to something resembling some of the many wild types. That may not be what you want. If not, start your preffed plants indoors or mark them where you plant them. One variety of sunflower looks pretty much like another until it's at least a few feet tall, and the seeds that made it through winter may vastly outnumber the ones you plant. Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 15:41

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