Like most flower plants, sunflowers also produce seeds. There are many types of sunflower seeds and they are used for a wide variety of purposes. Some types of seeds are edible but not all of them can be consumed. Mostly they are used for planting in gardens and lawns. They are different types of sunflower seeds for planting and they can be bought in local nurseries and online. In this article, let us learn about the different types of sunflower seeds.
1. How are Sunflower Seeds Obtained?
Sunflowers seed obtained during the harvesting process are of the genus Helianthus annuus. Different sunflowers produce different types of seeds that are used for different purposes. They are classified based on their usage. Sunflower seeds contain different amounts of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats depending on their variety. (See How many Seeds does a Strawberry have?)
2. What types of Sunflower Seeds are Edible?
Sunflower seeds can be divided into two major types: Oilseed sunflower seeds and Confection sunflower seeds.
- Confection sunflower seeds are edible and consumed by humans. They are larger than Oilseed sunflower seeds and have white stripes over them.
- Oilseed sunflower seeds (black oil seeds) are classified into three distinct categories, Linoleic, Mid-oleic, and High oleic. The linoleic sunflower seeds are polyunsaturated, mid-oleic sunflower seeds have low saturated fats and high oleic sunflower seeds are mostly unsaturated.
- Oilseed sunflower seeds especially Black oil sunflower seeds have thin shells which make it easy for birds and other animals to consume them. Black oil sunflower seeds can also be harvested to feed the birds. Usually, birds eat these seeds after they have been fertilized. You can put them in trays, hoppers, or any platform for the birds to eat.
You can give your kids some oilseeds to spread in the garden to feed birds and other animals. If you don’t have sunflowers in your garden then you can easily buy some oilseeds from the local market and put them on the feeders. The birds will love to feed on these seeds in the garden. (See How to Grow Purple Sunflowers?)
3. What types of Sunflower Seeds for Planting are there?
All sunflower seeds whether they are for consumption or planting come from the same plant. However, they are of different varieties which include tall varieties and short varieties. If you are harvesting the seeds then all sunflower seeds are suitable for planting.
If you are buying the seeds from the market, make sure they are not roasted seeds that are meant for your consumption. Roasted seeds do not germinate even if you plant them. (See How to Make a Sunflower Garden?)
4. What are the Varieties of Sunflower Seeds?
Short varieties of sunflowers produce large and plum sunflower seeds that are best for consumption purposes. Cultivars used for decoration purposes involve dwarf varieties of sunflowers. These plants are multi-branched with their height ranging from 1 foot to 6 feet. They produce lots of flowers during the blooming season which results in lots of seeds for harvesting.
Some mid-range cultivar varieties have flowers that are easily reachable. Sunflowers of this variety are neither too tall nor too short.
- Royal Hybrid is a sunflower plant that grows up to 7 feet tall and belongs to this category. They produce flowers that are 8 inches in diameter and each flower produces lots of seeds on average.
- Snack seed and Super Snack Mix are two other cultivars that produce almost 10 inches wide sunflowers. These plants are only 5 feet tall but their seeds can be cracked easily. (See Do Sunflowers Need Full Sun?)
There are some varieties of sunflowers that are platter-sized and grow up to be giant plants. Seeds produced from these giant sunflower cultivars are best suited for snacks because they are plump and meaty.
- The Russian mammoth is one such cultivar of sunflower that grows to a height of 12 feet to 15 feet and produces flowers that are almost 15-inch in diameter.
- Giganteus is another tall variety of sunflower that grow up to 12 feet tall and their flowers are noticeably big. They produce sunflower seeds in their flowers which are 1 foot in diameter.
- Mammoth gray stripe cultivar also bears 1-foot-wide flowers and reaches a height of 12 feet.
- Kong Hybrids can grow up to 14 feet high. The Titan cultivars are also tall with flowers up that are 24 inches wide. Similarly, Sunzilla cultivars are 16 feet tall.
- Hopi black dye is a uniquely colored sunflower with yellow petals and a dark blue-black center. It got its name because of the color of the flowers, it produces. They produce dark seeds which are used to make black dye. (See 8 Fruits That Have No Seeds)
5. Which type of Sunflowers Produce the most Seeds?
Many people grow sunflowers for their seeds because they are delicious. If you are looking for sunflowers plants that produce tons of seeds then you should go for a giant sunflower. They can easily produce 1000 seeds to 2000 seeds. Some other sunflower varieties that produce many seeds are the Russian mammoth, the Mongolian Giant, the Super Snack Mix, and the Royal Hybrid. (See Types of Trees with Purple Flowers)
6. How to Prepare Sunflower Seeds for Consumption?
Seeds harvested for eating purposes should be roasted as it will increase their shelf life. Roasting also enhances the taste of the seeds and makes them denser and more delicious.
- Dehull the seeds and store them. You can also remove the shells as per your preference before eating.
- An easy way to remove the shells of seeds is by roasting them. It will make the hull crispy and easy to remove.
- Another way to remove the shells is by putting them in a plastic bag and rolling them with a rolling pin. Empty the plastic bag into a bowl of water. The shells will float, making them easier to remove. After the process, dry the seeds or roast them if you want. (See 10 Rose Apple Benefits)
7. How to Protect Sunflower Seeds from Animals?
If you have a sunflower garden and you are planning to harvest the seeds then cover the flowers to prevent the seeds from birds, squirrels, deer, and other animals. You can cover the flower heads with cheesecloth or tie paper bags around the stem. It will stop the birds and other rodents from reaching the seeds. You can avoid these preventive measures if you are not planning to eat or replant the seeds and let the animals feast on them. (See How Do You Get Chiggers Out of Your Yard?)
8. Is Consuming Sunflowers Seeds Harmful for Animals?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, sunflowers are non-toxic to dogs, cats, deer, horses, and many other domestic and wild animals. If your pets are munching off the dried sunflowers, then do not worry, they are safe. Some types of sunflower seeds are nutritious for animals as well. (See How to Get Rid of Gnats without Apple Cider Vinegar?)
You have now learned a lot about the different types of sunflower seeds. Pick the ones that you think will suit your garden or pick something to excite that excites your taste buds, the choice is yours. (See What Everybody Ought to Know About Medicinal Uses of General Spices)