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How To Grow Black Oil Sunflower Microgreens

Black Oil

Helianthus annuus L.

Black Oil Sunflower microgreens have a fresh, nutty flavor and can be enjoyed on their own or as a garnish in salads, smoothies, and soups.

Quick Grow Info:

  •  Scientific Name: Helianthus annuus L.

  •  Flavor: Mild, Nutty Flavor

  •  Seed Rate: 125g-175g per 10″ x 20″ tray

  •  Seeds Per in2: 0.625g-0.875g

  •  Pre-Soak: 1-4 Hours

  •  Weight Duration: 2-3 Days

  •  Germination Time: 2-3 Days

  •  Blackout Time: 1-2 Days

  •  Seed To Harvest: 7-10 Days

  •  Growing Difficulty: Easy

Did You Know
Fun Fact

Black oil sunflower seeds scattered on table with a bottle of sunflower oil

Black Oil Sunflowers are most commonly farmed for the production of sunflower oil due to their high-fat content. The oil is extracted by applying high hydraulic pressure to the seeds and collecting the oil.

Plant Details &
Grow Guide

Growing Black Oil Sunflower Microgreens

Black oil sunflower microgreens are the most popular microgreen variety amongst growers. They’re a perfect beginner crop as they’re relatively easy to grow in soil, have a high yield, and taste great!

Sunflowers can be juiced, thrown into smoothies, used for pesto, used as a garnish, or as a fantastic salad base. You’re only limited by your imagination. So let’s get started!

Step 1 Measuring & Pre-Soaking Your Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

First, you need to measure your seeds using a scale. The best seeding rate for a 10″ × 20″ tray is 130-170 grams. If you plan to grow them in a 10″ × 10″ tray then simply divide the total amount by two, in this case, 65-85 grams.

If you’re a rebel like me you can just eyeball it without weighing, just make sure that your seeds are approx ⅛-¼” (3-6mm) apart.

Once you’ve measured out your seeds you should first rinse them under running water in a colander to rinse off any dirt, dust, or contaminants on the seeds.

Next, place them in a container or large bowl and fill with water approximately 2 inches above the seeds as they will soak up water during this step, this is called imbibition.

Leave the seeds to soak for 1-4 hours, do not soak them any longer than 12 hours or you risk drowning the seeds. Once they have soaked and expanded in size rinse them under running water one last time and drain thoroughly.

Pro Tip 1
Do not soak your seeds more than once. This will cause them to go soft and rot, ultimately destroying the seeds.

Step 2 Sowing Your Seeds

Fill your tray with your preferred medium, it can be soil, potting mix, coco coir, etc, leaving 1-2cm of empty space from the tray edge to the soil level.

Leaving a small space between the tray edge and grow medium helps when it comes to harvesting, minimizing the chance of digging into the medium with your knife.

Mist your medium with a spray bottle so it’s damp but not saturated and finally spread your seeds evenly across the medium making sure they’re evenly spread out. Lastly, mist your seeds so they’re all covered with a fine mist of water.

Pro Tip 3
You should be taste testing your black oil sunflowers daily, starting on day 7 all the way through day 10. This way you can find at which point the microgreens taste best to you.

Step 3 Germination & Weight Period

Grab an empty tray with no holes and place it on top of your sowed seeds. I use a 15lb (6.80kg) paving block for 10″ × 20″ trays or a 7lb (3.17 kg) brick on 10″ × 10″ trays.

This helps the seed radicle to bury into the medium when it emerges. Without weight, the radicles have a tougher time digging into the growing medium.

Keep in mind that the seeds will germinate while they’re covered and weighed down. A lot of people confuse the germination and weight period to be independent of one another and that you add them together, this is incorrect.

The germination time is there to give you an idea by what time the seeds will germinate, but you don’t add the germination time and blackout period together.

While your seeds are germinating and are weighed down you will need to keep your medium moist. You can do this by lightly misting your seeds every 12 hours, once in the morning and once at night.

Step 4 Blackout Time

After 2-3 days of weight period, the seeds should have germinated and the seedlings should now be lifting the tray with the weight in it. It’s now time to remove the weight and start the blackout period.

Take out the weight from your empty tray and flip it upside down to create a blackout dome and place it back over your seeds.

Keeping them in the dark for 1-2 days will force the freshly sprouted seedlings to stretch and search for light allowing them to get some height.

You can now start bottom watering your microgreens. To do this you simply add water to your bottom drain tray. I personally add 1 cup of water twice a day (every 12 hours), once in the morning and once in the evening.

When the 1-2 days of blackout time have passed you can remove the top tray/blackout dome and introduce your microgreens to light. I’ve found that 17 hours under lights and 7 hours with the lights off work well for me.

Grow your black oil sunflowers anywhere from 7-10 days, following with daily watering of 2 cups per day, once every 12 hours.

Pro Tip 1
You can save a lot of time on measuring your seeds by using 1x tablespoon which is approximately 14.3 grams.

Step 5 Harvest

Harvesting your sunflower microgreens is straightforward that only requires a sharp tool. Personally, I absolutely love using the Green Mercer Produce Knife—I highly recommend it! But if you prefer scissors, that’s also completely fine; just make sure they’re sharp!

Now, here’s an important tip to keep your harvest pristine; make sure to keep your chosen tool (whether it’s a knife or scissors) away from the soil! It’s imperative in avoiding any accidental contact between the blade and the soil, you don’t want any unwanted dirt from sneaking into your microgreen harvest and contaminating it.

By following this important pointer, you’ll ensure that your harvested microgreens are of top notch quality and purity.

Plant Details & Taxonomy

Sunflower scientifically Helianthus annuus L. is a type of annual herbaceous plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family.

It is characterized by a thick, rough, and hairy stem that produces a large flower head.

Sunflowers are available in over 70 different cultivars that can be divided into three main groups: colored sunflowers, giant sunflowers, and dwarf sunflowers.

Black oil sunflowers are primarily grown for the production of oil due to their high-fat content.

They are a very popular variety to grow as microgreens, and they can be used as a snack or as a base for any salad.

If you plan to grow sunflowers, I recommend using soil as your medium, as it can be challenging to grow them hydroponically.

Source: The botanical data and taxonomic details were acquired from the USDA Plants Database

Rank Scientific Name
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Asteridae
Order Asterales
Family Asteraceae – Aster family
Genus Helianthus L. – sunflower
Species Helianthus annuus L. – common sunflower
Common Names Common sunflower, sunflower, sunflower black oil

Microgreen Pests & Diseases

The following are the most common pests and diseases that can affect your microgreens.


White Mold – Sclerotinia sclerotiorum

Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is a necrotrophic fungal disease that causes what’s known as white mold, it can infect over 400 plant species worldwide. It’s also called cottony soft rot, stem rot, watery soft rot, crown rot, and seedling blight.

S. sclerotiorum key properties are its ability to create sclerotia which are its black resting structures, and mycelium which are the white fuzzy spiderweb-like growths you see on stems and growing medium.

microgreens suffering from damping off disease

Damping Off

Damping-off is an umbrella term that covers fungi and fungi-like organisms in several genera including Rhizoctonia, Botrytis, Phytophthora, and Fusarium, with the soil fungus Pythium being the often culprit.

Damping-off is a soil-borne fungal disease that affects seeds and seedlings typically by rotting of the stems and roots at and below the soil surface.

When a seed germinates the seedling will emerge fine but within 24 hours to a few days will become mushy and water-soaked, collapse at the base of the stem and die.

Aphids crawling on a plant stem

Aphids – Aphidoidea

Aphids suck! Quite literally. They’re soft-bodied insects that use their piercing-sucking mouths to feed on plants and there are over 4,000 aphid species in the world.

Other common names are greenflies, blackflies, and plant lice. They come in varying colors such as light green, black, white, brown, gray, or yellow.

When aphids feed on plants they secrete a sticky fluid which is called honeydew (no, don’t eat it). This goo they leave behind drips onto plants and can attract other pests such as ants. If the honeydew is left on leaves it can promote black sooty mold.

Sunflower Nutrition Facts

Black Oil Sunflower microgreens are a nutritious source of 39 Kcal per serving.

They are similar in nutritional value to mature sunflower seeds, with 6.25g of carbohydrates, 3.12g of protein, and 3.1g of dietary fiber to support digestive health.

They are also rich in essential minerals like iron, magnesium, and potassium, as well as Vitamin B2 and Vitamin K.

Although they lack certain vitamins like Vitamin A and Vitamin E, Black Oil Sunflower microgreens are a healthy addition to salads and dishes.

Nutrition value per 100 g. (Source: USDA National Nutrient Database). Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) calculation based on data from NIH Nutrient Recommendations and Database.

Note: Percent Daily Values are calculated based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional for personalized recommendations.

Principle Nutrient Value Unit RDA
Energy 39 Kcal 2%
Carbohydrates 6.25 g 5%
Protein 3.12 g 6%
Total Fat 0 g 0%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 3.1 g 8%
Choline 0 mg 0%
Folate 94 µg 24%
Selenium, Se 27 µg 49%
Vitamin A 19 µg 25%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0 mg 0%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.266 mg 20%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1.875 mg 12%
Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxin) 0.25 mg 19%
Vitamin C 14.1 mg 16%
Vitamin E 0 mg 0%
Vitamin K 62.5 µg 52%
Sodium, Na 16 mg 1.07%
Potassium, K 422 mg 8.98%
Calcium, Ca 125 mg 12.50%
Copper, Cu 0.625 mg 69.44%
Iron, Fe 22.5 mg 281.25%
Magnesium, Mg 94 mg 22.93%
Manganese, Mn 0 mg 0.00%
Phosphorus, P 125 mg 17.86%
Zinc, Zn 0.94 mg 8.55%
β-Carotene, beta 0 µg 0.00%
α-Carotene, alpha 0 µg 0.00%
Lutein + zeaxanthin 0 µg 0.00%

Recommended Products

Explore my top curated picks for products needed to grow microgreens. Rest assured that all the featured items and products have been meticulously put to the test by me or have received glowing recommendations from my esteemed readers.

Green Microgreens Growing Trays

Microgreen Grow Trays

For my personal home use, these microgreen trays are my go to. Measuring around 12.2 x 9.06 x 1.77 inches (31 x 23 x 4.5 cm), these trays are perfectly suited for cultivating microgreens in a home microgreen grow room. What’s more, they’re durable, and cleaning them is a walk in the park, making them an all-around convenient choice.

1020 Microgreen Trays - Shallow Extra Strength Colors

1020 Microgreen Trays – Shallow Extra Strength Colors

Industry leading BootStrap Farmers 1020 microgreen trays! Designed with long lasting durability in mind, these colorful trays are built to withstand years of use and abuse. With a height of 1¼ inches (3.2 cm), these shallow trays make harvests easy, saving you time and increasing your yield. The trays come equipped with 36 drainage holes that effectively remove excess water, promoting a healthy growing environment and preventing mold growth. If you’re serious about growing microgreens and want the best trays available on the market, these trays are it!

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About The Author: Hello there! I'm Milos Vukcevic, the founder of Microgreen Silo. Armed with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (BAgSci) from Massey University, New Zealand, and 18 years of hands-on growing experience, my expertise lies in cultivating and nurturing various plants and microgreens.

At Microgreen Silo, my mission extends beyond cultivating these nutritious plants. I'm dedicated to sharing knowledge, pioneering innovative techniques, and building a community of microgreen enthusiasts.

Whether you're just starting your journey with microgreens or an experienced grower, I'm here to offer guidance, insights, and advice. My approach is rooted in deep expertise and a passion for microgreen cultivation. Join me in exploring the vibrant world of microgreens! You can contact me through my contact form if you need to get in touch.

Note: This information is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional for personalized recommendations.

This post may contain affiliate links. I'll earn some loose change when you buy from any of my links at no extra cost to you, which I promise I'll blow on mocha ☕ and dark chocolate, which helps me in creating more epic and helpful content like this! 

Comments (2)

Lydia Borchgrevink

Hi Milos, You always provide clear explanations and definitions.

I really appreciate your kind words and the recognition! It’s great to know that my explanations and definitions have been clear and helpful to you. At, my main objective is to make information about microgreens and related topics accessible and easy to understand for everyone.

I always strive to maintain a high standard of clarity in the content I create, ensuring that both beginners and enthusiasts can benefit from the knowledge I share. Your feedback motivates me to keep refining my content and providing valuable insights for our readers.

If there are any specific topics or questions you’d like me to address in the future, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I value input from users like yourself and I’m always eager to meet your needs and expectations.

Once again, thank you for your support and kind words. I’m excited about continuing to be your trusted source for everything related to microgreens.

Warm regards,
Milos Vukcevic

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