Can You Grow Sunflowers From Bird Seed?

Finding new ways to grow flowers throughout your garden can sometimes be confusing. Do you want to add a few sunflowers to your landscape but don't know where to start? Is it possible to grow sunflowers from bird seed? Can you do this with any bird seed mix?

We'll answer these questions and many others throughout this article.

As long as there are sunflower seeds in your bird seed mix, you should be able to plant them and see a sunflower sprout. That said, you won't always know which type of sunflower seeds your mix has, so that can be a mystery.

Regardless, growing sunflowers from seed (bird or not) is very easy, so this shouldn't take much more than water, sunlight, and fertile soil!

As we start this post, we will cover all things growing sunflowers from bird seeds and discuss how to do this. Whether you're trying to find new ways to use your bird's extra food, want more flowers in your garden, or have other related questions, we're here to help. With that said, let's dive right in! Sunflower growing on roof top garden, Can You Grow Sunflowers From Bird Seed?

Can You Grow Sunflowers From Bird Seed?

Close-up view of a Chickadee eating seeds

Yes! If the bird seed mix includes sunflower seeds, they will grow in the ground. Typically, you want to plant these seeds and wait for them to sprout once the weather is warm.

However, growing sunflowers from bird seed can be a mystery. As we mentioned, you won't always know the exact sunflower variety your seeds belong to, which can make planting them a guessing game.

Luckily, most sunflowers require the same amount of sunlight and have similar climate preferences, so that shouldn't hinder your gardening project!

Most organic bird seed mixes will be easy to plant and repurpose, so if you can, try and look for the least processed mixture you can find. Your sunflowers will grow easier, and your bird will thank you.

What Types Of Seeds Are Usually In Bird Food?

Now that you know how to grow your sunflowers from bird seed, it's essential to understand what types of seeds typically come in these mixtures.

According to experts, most bird food mixes will have various ingredients, including:

  • Sunflower
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer or thistle
  • White proso millet
  • Shelled/cracked corn
  • Rapeseed or canary seed
  • Peanuts

So, you can see here there are a few seed varieties in a standard bird food mixture. Specifically, sunflower seeds are prevalent in all kinds of bird food products, as they're a favorite among pets.

Again, this can differ depending on the bird seed mix, brand, and species you're feeding, so check the ingredients before planting any seeds.

You might even be able to find the specific sunflower type on your bird seed's label, but don't be discouraged if you can't. Sunflowers are all gorgeous, so we're sure you will love yours!

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Are Sunflowers Easy To Grow From Bird Seed?

Yes! Sunflowers are one of the easiest bird seeds to grow. Since they're in virtually all bird mixes, your sunflower seeds should be ready for planting as soon as you are.

Many experts claim that almost all seeds found in bird mixes will sprout, so that's great to know for bird owners or those with excess food left over.

You might even notice flowers growing near your bird feeder, as they can fall onto the ground and eventually begin growing if the conditions are right.

Therefore, your sunflowers could begin growing without any help from you. Of course, we recommend digging a proper hole and giving your sunflower bird seeds a bit of water and attention, but that's not always necessary.

What Kind Of Sunflower Is Usually In Bird Seed?

If you're curious about which types of sunflowers will sprout from a bird seed mixture, these will usually be black oil and striped sunflowers.

Black oil sunflower seeds have thin shells, often in all bird seed products. That's because they feature a high-fat content, which is essential for bird health.

Furthermore, the striped sunflower seeds contain protein, carbohydrates, and fat and have a high oil content. So, these will be the most common types of sunflower seeds in your bird food, although that's not to say there won't be others.

As we said, you should have success planting these seeds into the ground and watching beautiful flowers bloom, so the actual type of seed doesn't make much difference.

Should I Soak Sunflower Seeds Before Planting Them?

Nutritious sunflower seeds fill a wood bowl, accented with a metal scoop and yellow sunflower

Once you gather your sunflower bird seeds, it can be helpful to clean them off. However, this isn't required and won't affect how well your sunflower grows, so to each their own.

According to the experts at Rocky Hedge Farms, you can grab your seeds and place them directly into the soil. Although you can soak them in water, this is a step you don't have to follow.

On the other hand, if you feel the need to soak your seeds, you'll need to follow specific guidelines.

  1. First, place your seeds into a bowl of clean water.
  2. Leave your seeds in the bowl of water for 8-12 hours.
  3. Plant your seeds within 24 hours, and wait for them to sprout.

Again, you don't necessarily need to do this, but if your seeds have added preservatives or are extremely dirty, placing them in a fresh bowl of water can be helpful.

This will be different for everyone.

Why Do You Soak Seeds Before Planting Them?

One of the main reasons people soak their seeds before planting them is to encourage faster germination.

Doing this can increase the proportion of seeds that successfully germinate, so allowing your seeds 8-12 hours of soak time is a good idea in some cases.

Of course, you do not technically need to do this to see similar germination in the ground. As long as the seeds you plant are clean and natural, they should grow well once in the soil.

So, if you want faster germination and more successful sunflower yield, it could be worth it to soak your seeds in clean water before you plant them.

How Long Does It Take For Sunflower Seeds To Sprout?

Sunflower Field at Sunset, Cookstown, Ontario, Canada.

If the ground temperature is ideal (not too cold), your sunflower seeds should sprout within 10-14 days. However, this greatly depends on the seed quality and whether you soaked them before planting.

Many gardeners recommend planting sunflower seeds 1-1.5 inches below the ground's surface in warm soil. So, a good time to do this could be during the spring or summer.

In addition, the weather should be around 70-78 degrees Fahrenheit, as this is the perfect temperature range for sunflower germination.

You also want to ensure you keep the soil around your seeds moist. That said, don't drown your sunflowers in water, as this can hinder them from sprouting and surviving.

It might even be better to germinate your sunflowers indoors under a warm plant light and then move them outdoors once they're more established.

This all comes down to your climate and ground temperature, so everyone is different.

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How Big Do Most Sunflowers Get?


Although this will vary by variety, most sunflowers will become anywhere from six to over ten feet tall. Of course, if you have a ground-covering variety, your sunflowers won't reach heights close to six feet.

On the other hand, if your bird seed has sunflowers that do get big, you should see some significant growth during the first 1-2 years.

Sunflowers tend to be tall and slim, featuring massive blooms that we all know and love. Therefore, it's best to give them enough room to sprawl.

Some of the largest sunflower varieties boast plants 16+ feet tall, so this can quickly become a major species within your landscape.

Again, you won't wake up to a 10+ foot monster plant in your garden, but within a couple of years, it's possible to witness a burst of height.

Want to read more about sunflower height? Check out our post: How Tall Can A Sunflower Grow?

How Much Sun Does A Sunflower Need To Grow?

It's usually best to plant a sunflower somewhere that gets between six and eight hours of direct sunlight each day. As their name eludes, sunflowers love warm, bright sunlight and need it to live and grow.

If you want your sunflower to grow big and tall, more sun is better than less.

A sunflower in full sun exposure will become taller and produce bigger flowers during the blooming season. So, where you decide to grow, yours can and will likely affect it for its lifetime.

To Wrap Things Up

Whether you have extra bird seeds lying around or want to take on a fun DIY project, knowing whether sunflowers can grow from bird seed is always good.

From what we found, you can generally grow sunflowers from bird seeds, although you won't always know the exact variety until your plant begins to grow and bloom.

Therefore, this can be a bit of a mystery at first, but it should be easy regardless. Sunflowers are common within bird mixes, so chances are, if you have bird seeds, you also have potential sunflowers!

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related gardening articles below:

What Is Eating My Sunflower Leaves? [And How To Stop Them]

How To Grow Mammoth Sunflowers [Garden Guide For Beginners]

Why Are My Sunflowers Dying? [And How To Save Them]

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