The Q&A Archives: Saving Sunflower Seeds

Question: I'm going to try to wait as long as possible before plucking seeds from a large sunflower plant growing nearby. Neighbors and now I understand birds will be my competition for the seeds. But after I get my share of the seeds, I'm wondering how long they will remain viable for planting? Do you think these seeds will last a couple of years or more?

Answer: While some seeds, such as tomatoes, will last a good number of years, all seeds experience decreased viability from year to year even when stored under the best of conditions. So fresh seed is always best, but you might get fair germination after two years. Try to store the seed very dry and air tight and at a steady moderate temperature for best results; in a closed container in the refrigerator, for example, is a good place. With sunflower seeds you also need to be on the lookout for weevils. Finally, if your sunflowers are hybrids, your seed may or may not be viable and if it is viable, the next generation in all likelihood will not be the same as the parents. Good luck with your sunflowers!

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