Grow Black Oil Sunflower Seeds For Your Wild Birds

I just came back from the bird store where I got some black oil sunflower seeds for my wild birds when I thought why not grow my own for next year? My favorite sunflower up to now has been the Titan sunflower which is a striped seed and is not a black oil seed.  Black oil seeds compared to striped sunflower seeds have a higher oil content and are meatier for birds. They are also easier for small birds to crack open. I already cut off the sunflower heads from sunflowers for birds so why not give them what is really good for them. One variety of black oil sunflower seed that I found is Peredovik Black Oil Sunflower Seed from Russia. In 2016 you can get it at  Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. You can also just plant the black oil seed you get in your birdseed. I read that the sunflowers grow from 3-6 feet tall. So this year I’m going to add them in with my other sunflowers that I grow for a treat for the wild birds.

Hmm, now I wonder if I can grow that real expensive finch seed, Nyger? I’ll have to look into that! It is super expensive but I don’t know if it will grow here. I’ll get back to you on that one..

2014 update: Try to grow some from your birdseed mix but if yours don’t grow from your birdseed, go to the site above to buy some that will germinate. This is the most current seed company to buy from.

37 comments on “Grow Black Oil Sunflower Seeds For Your Wild Birds

  1. Chris R says:

    Such a terrific idea! We have grown our own sunflower in the past, but never oil sunflower. We will try your Titan recommendation because absolutely, black/oil sunflower is far more nutritious and definitely much easier to open, particularly for smaller song birds.

    Thanks for the great information.


    • Actually Titan sunflowers that I grew last year are called striped sunflower seed and are not the black oil seed that is so rich for the birds that I talked about in the post (the contact for purchasing black oil sunflower seeds is in the post). You can also just get a bag of black oil sunflower seeds for the birds and grow some of them.


  2. Bruce says:

    Hi. Nice post, and I agree. We have started growing our own sunflowers for bird feed and have notices another benefit…honey bees! I have not seen a honey bee for years, but now that we are growing sunflowers, there is not one head without at least one honey bee on it.

    As far as growing the expensive niger seed, it is my understanding that the niger seed sold as bird feed is actually sterilized, because it comes from a plant that is considered a noxious, invasive weed. Therefore, if you want to grow it, you must find another source than the packaged bird feed. I could be wrong about this, but that is what I remember someone telling me a long time ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dianne says:

    Did you have any success growing flowers from the bird feed seeds?


  4. Cardie says:

    great idea, if everyone that grew it would donate a portion to the Audubon on Upper Canyon it would be even better!


  5. Sharon m says:

    Our black oil seeds planted themselves everywhere we have feeders so this summer we have wonderful sunflowers our funniest are growing in a large pot that was on a iron stand until it became to heavy. The flowers are turning to seed already in early June. I plan to use several of the flower heads to reseed a large area next year. We have enjoyed them so much
    I have posted pictures to my Facebook wall I call the evolution of the sunflower and have been photographing them at all the stages of growth


    • Teri Kay says:

      I tried to find this and was unsuccessful: I have posted pictures to my Facebook wall I call the evolution of the sunflower and have been photographing them at all the stages of growth. I have black oil seedlings coming up in my yard and i wondered what the flower looks like and the plant size.


  6. Robt. R. Haraway says:

    After you cut off the dried head from the stem, how do you remove the seeds from the head? Black oil sunflowers.


    • If I’m keeping the seeds for growing next season, I just break the head apart and use my fingers to rub the seeds out. If I’m giving them to the birds, I cut the head off of the stalk very close to the head and just put it on the ground by my feeder or just leave the plant in the ground, the birds will find it.


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  10. Gardengrower says:

    I grew a giant sunflower and got black and white seeds why was that?


    • Some seeds are dark grey and white, some are greyish, some black and evidently some are black and white like you got. It just depends on the variety you plant as to what color the seeds will be. I’m curious-what variety did you plant?


  11. Gardengrower says:

    Wowzers bowlers soooo coooool lol


  12. Gail Farley says:

    Racoons broke into bag of black-oiled sunflower seeds next to my garden. I’ve 10+ sunflowers growing now. It’s March 29 in St Marys, GA (just N of Jacksonville, GA). the plants are 6″ + tall. I learned it’s NOT good to transplant them; I moved one and it’s not happy. Just leave in place. I’m glad to read black-oiled sunflowers only get 3′ tall?!? I’ll find out. I’m tempted to pinch back the heads and see if plants will branch out…but not this time. If these plants only grow 3′ tall…I’ll be surprised. I’ve had volunteers in Virginia from bird feeders that grew 5-6′ tall. And I usually buy black-oiled. we’ll see…P.S. It’s March 29 and the nighttime temps have been above 32 degrees…plus warming.


    • Sounds like you are in a great growing area! Let me know if they grow taller!


      • jennifer says:

        will you get sunflowers from the seeds on the ground? I have some sprouting all around the bird feeders?


      • There are several types of seeds in birdseed. So your sprouts could come from a few types of seeds. But if the seed is an uneaten sunflower, then yes you could get sunflowers! Do you know what a sunflower sprout looks like? Google what a baby sunflower looks like to know which is which. Let them get a little bigger and pull the others out and leave the sunflowers in.


  13. Nina Sanford says:

    Wish I could get some seed planted here in Minnesota. This winter has been terrible. It is May 3 and it is SNOWING — AGAIN! In a few days it’ll be back into the 60s and 70s. But waiting for the last frost will be the tricky part. I think the birds are a little confused, too. It’s warmed up and melted, but when the snow covered the ground again, the birds are back to the feeders! THANK YOU for your post — I’m excited to try this out! 🙂


  14. jennifer says:

    if the black oil seeds that the birds are eating and some fall on ground will I get sunflowers from them because I have sprouts all over the ground???


  15. vivian martin says:

    I don’t know how this happened, but something planted groups of what I think is black oil sunflower seeds. They sprouted all over my yard. At first I thought they were weeds and pulled 3 groupings of them before I saw the sunflower seed hull still attached to a seedling. Some of the plants are over a foot tall now, but I saw some that were smaller and bloomed with a smaller flower on it. I’m thinking maybe a squirrel got some out of a bird feeder and either dropped them or stored them. There’s over 8 seedlings in each group. I moved some to a large pot, and they are growing well.


  16. Daniela says:

    Hi. We put up a bird feeder on a tree branch. It is not a mature tree, so not very tall yet. Medium. Well the birdseed mix was black oil sunflower seeds and now we have sunflowers growing in the mulch bed under the tree. Sunflowers are my favorite so I want to keep them, but is there any chance I could cut them back so they fit under the tree or will that ruin them?


  17. ann gothard says:

    are the flowers really black that is what i want is black flowered sun flowers


  18. robin reay says:

    I want to cast the black oil seeds along my creek bank. I hope they grow. I’m getting the area ready now.


  19. daneyul says:

    Thanks so much for the info about BOSS! Wondering about dealing with the seeds. Are they only attractive to birds after the flower part dies and dries out? (And… how long does the “drying” of the seeds take?) If they don’t need to dry, what’s to prevent birds from scouring the plant free of seeds as soon as they come in? For that matter–can you just leave the flower and just use the plant itself as a kind of bird feeder? Are there any negatives to doing that (thinking of just growing some in some big unused planters and letting the birds have at it. I’m worried, though, that the birds will finish ’em all off in one day, which seems a bit of a waste. Maybe stagger the planting so different ones will be “ready” at different times?) Also–are black oil sunflowers perennial?


    • Only after the flowers are dry and the seeds are ripe will the birds start to get the sunflower seeds. Sometimes I leave all my sunflowers alone in the garden for winter feeding. The birds just hang on and get the seeds out. Or if I cut the plant down, I keep the heads and just lay them out in the garden. The birds have to get the seeds out of the sunflower head so they won’t finish them in a day. They have to work at it. No need to stagger the planting. Once the heads are empty of the seeds, then I pull the plant or dispose of the head.

      Liked by 1 person

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