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How to Grow Sunflower Shoots Indoors in Containers

Sunflower shoots grown indoors

In many countries, sunflower shoots are grown commercially for use as microgreens in salads. If you like the delicate nutty flavor of sunflower shoots (also called "sunnies"), you will be pleased to learn that these sturdy, edible microgreens can also be grown successfully at home, indoors or out. All you need is a plastic container, some sunflower seeds, enough sunlight, soil (or other chemical-free growing medium), and water. The rest of this article provides instructions on how to grow sunflower shoots indoors or outdoors.

  1. If you don't already have organic or food-grade sunflower seeds at home, buy them. Make sure the black hulls are intact. Soak the unhulled sunflower seeds in cool water for eight to ten hours prior to sowing.
  2. Fill a tray or another plastic container with your favorite seed-starting soil and moisten the soil. Distribute the soaked, unhulled sunflower seeds evenly on top of the soil mix and gently pat them down; then cover with a thin layer of soil.
  3. Place the container or tray on a sunny windowsill. During warm summer months you can also grow sunflower shoots or microgreens outside: simply place the seed tray on a sunny porch or balcony.
  4. Check the surface of the potting soil every day and water with a spray bottle, as needed, to maintain a moist environment. Watering is essential to ensuring that your indoor sunflower shoot garden produces a good crop, but it can also take quite some practice to figure out the right amount of water needed. You should use enough water to keep the soil damp at all times but not so much to cause runoff.
  5. Harvest your sunnies when they are still tender and small (about two inches tall) and have cotyledons. Sunnies are usually ready to harvest 5 to 12 days after sowing. To harvest sunflower microgreens, simply snip them off at the soil level with a pair of sharp kitchen shears. Note: Usually seed shells (the black hulls) will drop off the cotyledons on their own, but in case some of them are still stuck when your sunnies are ready to harvest, you can remove the shells manually by gently pulling them off.
  6. After harvesting, use sunflower shoots immediately in salads and sandwiches that can benefit from the slightly nutty flavor of sunnies. Consuming sunnies immediately helps keep their nutritional properties intact. Like sunflower sprouts, sunflower shoots are supercharged with minerals, vitamins, and other health-boosting nutrients.