Who doesn’t love beautiful and bright sunflowers? They make a lovely sight in gardens from summer into fall. You can also bring them inside to add cheer to any room. Here’s all you need to know about cutting, drying, and enjoying sunflowers and their seeds.

Cutting Flowers

The huge and gorgeous flower heads open in July and August. The best way to cut the main stalks is below the side shoots. Be sure to do this in the early morning, to avoid wilting. Put the stalks in room temperature water right away. If you have a bunch of flowers, these make spectacular displays in your home. They make a great hostess gift too! Cut flowers should last about around a week.

Drying Flowers

Drying doesn’t take long and then you can enjoy the wild beauty for weeks and months to come. To make a dried flower display you will need florist wire and silica gel, which you can find at most craft stores.

Cut your flower stems about 1 inch below the head and insert a 2-inch-long piece of wire into the cut end of the stem, deep enough that it’s firm and secure. Spread 1/2-to-1 inch of silica gel on the base of a shallow, large container. Lay the sunflower face up on the gel. Sift more gel gently over the sunflower until the flower is entirely covered, being careful not to bend the petals. Cover the container with the lid and place it in a cool, dark place. In two days, gently brush aside the gel and check that the flower is dry. If so, remove it from the gel and brush away the remaining gel particles using a fine-haired soft brush. Now you have gorgeous, dried long-lasting flowers to bring color to any room!

Enjoying Sunflower Seeds

Sunflowers bring wild birds to the yard, who love to eat those seeds. If you like the birds, just keep everything as is. Birds will find the ripened seeds. You can also harvest them for the birds during winter months when food is scarce. Do so by cutting the stems about 4 inches below the flower (after the flowers have bloomed). Hang upside down in a dark safe place such as a shed or garage that gets some circulated air. After about 30-45 days you can hang them outside for the birds, or hold onto them until winter and bring them outside then.

As for eating the seeds yourself,  sunflower seeds are delicious and also nutritious. After the flowers bloom, cover each one with a paper bag while still on the stalk (so the birds don’t get them). When the flowers are dark brown (in about 30-45 days), the seeds are ready to be eaten. Cut the stems, and rub the seeds with your hands over a tray. Eat them now or store them in a bag to prevent mold. Delicious!