can you plant safflower bird seed

Are you familiar with the bright, beautiful orange flower that is the safflower? If so, you’re probably aware of its gorgeous hue and the rich flavor safflower oil provides in cooking. But what you may not know is that safflower seeds are also cultivated as precious bird food!

The safflower plant (Carthamus tinctorius) is grown as a crop in many areas throughout the world, including parts of the United States, Canada, India, Mexico, Ethiopia, China, Argentina, and Iran. The gorgeous color and flavorful oil aside, safflower is also an important wild bird feed for various songbirds.

Safflower seeds are small but come with a hard shell that some birds (and pets) find difficult to crack open. This type of wild bird seed is an annual species in the same plant family as the sunflower, which makes it an easy pairing when putting together wild bird feed mixes. The seed itself is white and angular. Size-wise, it’s slightly larger than a popcorn kernel but just smaller than a black oil sunflower seed with a similarly tapered shape.

Safflower seeds aren’t for everyone – in fact, they’re often not even most wild birds’ first choice. Despite being bitter and requiring some work, however, these seeds are a vital part of several birds’ diets. Several types of wild birds that eat safflower seeds include:

So why do birds eat safflower seeds? The nutritional content is pretty impressive. Safflower seeds are so good for birds because of their strong nutritional profile. With 38% fat, 16% protein, and 34% carbohydrates, these seeds provide birds with an exceptional source of energy.

It doesn’t matter that safflower seeds are so small in size; many birds still tend to crack them open to eat them so they can access the seed’s inner meat. Every once in a while, however, you’ll find a bird (like doves) that eats the safflower seed whole.

Why do birders like filling their bird feeders with safflower seed? Arguably the best thing about safflower isn’t even the seed itself; it’s that squirrels don’t like to eat the seeds! Squirrels, grackles (namely blackbirds), starlings, and most other pesky animals steer clear of safflower seeds due to their bitter taste and exceptionally hard shells. Filling your birdfeeder with safflower seeds, or even putting a wild bird feed mix with safflower seeds in it into your feeder is a great way to deter bully birds from dominating your backyard.

Another advantage of safflower seeds for birders is that this is a no-mess bird food. Even the birds that crack open the shells and leave the husks on the ground don’t leave behind the same clutter that would ensue from sunflower seeds. Safflower husks easily blow away in the wind, making them ideal for birders looking to keep their backyards neat and tidy.

Follow these bird feeding tips if you’re new to bringing safflower to your backyard bird feeders:

1) Give it time. Even the birds that are known for eating safflower seeds, like cardinals, may take some time to get accustomed to eating it on a regular basis.

2) Ease safflower seeds into a wild bird seed mix. Consider this as a tip from one bird-feeding family to another: mix safflower in with other wild bird feed or use a pre-made bird seed blend with safflower, like the Valley Farms® Cardinal Mix Wild Bird Food, which includes striped and black oil sunflower seed, buckwheat, and of course safflower seed. Let the birds get used to eating safflower seeds before you fill the whole bird feeder with them.

3) The best type of bird feeder for safflower seeds is a large hopper feeder, tube feeder, or platform feeder. If youre looking to attract cardinals, we suggest a large hopper or a platform feeder over a tube feeder, as they need more space. It’s also fine to scatter the seeds on the ground near shrubs and sheltered areas for ground-feeders.

Ready to experiment with safflower seed? Buy fresh and clean safflower seeds from yours truly. Find it in some of our specialty wild bird seed mixes or get straight safflower seed. Orders yours today!

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In order to begin planting your safflower seeds, locate a sunny area in your garden with soil that drains properly. Next, remove any rocks as you till the soil by using a rake to till the soil about an inch into the ground. After tilling the ground, plant the seeds one to one 5 inches in depth, 8 to 12 inches apart, and roughly 0 25 inches of soil. When the soil is dry on top, water the seeds until they start to emerge from the ground. Continue reading for more advice from our horticulturist reviewer, including instructions on harvesting safflower!


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    Idabelle Community Answer: Safflowers grow to a height of about 30 to 40 inches, or 80 centimeters to one meter.
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3) A big hopper feeder, tube feeder, or platform feeder is the ideal kind of bird feeder for safflower seeds. Cardinals require more space, so if you want to draw them in, we recommend a platform feeder or a large hopper over a tube feeder. For ground-feeders, it’s also acceptable to disperse the seeds on the ground close to bushes and shaded spots.

1) Give it time. It might take some time for even birds that are known to consume safflower seeds, like cardinals, to become used to consuming them frequently.

2) Ease safflower seeds into a wild bird seed mix. From one bird-feeding family to another, take note of this advice: combine safflower with other wild bird feed or use a pre-made blend of bird seeds that includes safflower, such as Valley Farms® Cardinal Mix Wild Bird Food, which also contains buckwheat, striped and black oil sunflower seed, and of course safflower seed. Before you fill the bird feeder to the brim with safflower seeds, give the birds some time to get used to eating them.

Safflower seeds are a mess-free bird food, which is an additional benefit for birdwatchers. The mess that would result from sunflower seeds is not even left behind by the birds that break open the shells and drop the husks to the ground. Safflower husks are perfect for birdwatchers who want to maintain a tidy backyard because they readily blow away in the wind.

It doesn’t matter that safflower seeds are so small in size; many birds still tend to crack them open to eat them so they can access the seed’s inner meat. Every once in a while, however, you’ll find a bird (like doves) that eats the safflower seed whole.


What happens if you plant wild bird seed?

Within a week, our birdseed began to sprout and it grew quickly. The first things to grow were some grassy plants and sunflowers. After a month, most of the grassy plants withered and died. The sunflowers, however, continued to grow and were eventually transplanted into the garden.

Can you grow safflower from seeds?

Safflower is seeded in early to late spring. Plant seeds ½ inch (1.5 cm.) deep in rows that are 6-12 inches (15-30.5 cm.) apart in a prepared firm bed.

Can you plant the sunflower seeds that come in bird seed?

Sunflower seeds are the easiest type of birdseed to grow. You can plant seeds directly from your birdseed supply or purchase different varieties of sunflower seeds from nurseries and gardening centers (take care to purchase flower types noted for producing abundant seeds, as some hybrids do not).

Can I grow flowers from bird seed?

Not all will sprout, but some will. You have probably noticed that sunflower seeds used as bird feed are rather small. So expect any flowers to also be pretty small. The good thing is that each plant will have several flowers on it instead of just one.