Feathered Friends Backyard Guests/ Flowers and Plants/ Free Gardening Tips

Safflower Seed

Birds Like Safflower Seed Squirrels Dislike

Safflower Seed

Looking to keep the squirrels off your feeders?  Try changing your birdseed.  Birds like safflower seed squirrels dislike it. So, if you are looking for a great way to feed the birds and keep the squirrels at bay, look toward the seed.

What is Safflower?

Safflowers are thistle-like annual with globe flowers in yellow, orange or red flowers.

The flower is commercially cultivated for vegetable oil that is extracted from the seeds. Each branch will have from one to five flower heads containing 15 to 20 white seeds per head.

Traditionally, the safflower was grown for its seeds, and used for coloring and flavoring foods, in medicines, and making red and yellow dyes. The plants have been cultivated mainly for the vegetable oil extracted from the seeds and the petals are harvest and dried to create safflower tea.

What Do Safflower Seed Look Like?

A medium size, pale yellow colored hard shell seed. Birds ‘shell’ them to eat the ‘meat’ inside.

The seeds are high in fat, fiber and protein, making them ideal for feeding the birds.

  • Attract cardinals, nuthatches, titmice and chickadees
  • Most squirrels, blackbirds common grackle and crows will not eat
  • Store seed in a metal trash can with tight lid

Birds That Enjoy Safflower Seeds

  • Black-capped chickadees
  • Black-headed grosbeaks
  • Blue jays
  • Carolina chickadees
  • Downy woodpeckers
  • Evening grosbeaks
  • House finches
  • Mourning doves
  • Northern cardinals
  • Purple finches
  • Red-bellied woodpeckers
  • Rose-breasted grosbeaks
  • Tufted titmice
  • White-breasted nuthatches

Feeders To Use Seed In

Grow Your Own Safflower Seed

Safflower Is Easy To Grow

You can just plant safflower seeds about an inch deep in the soil and walk away.  The rest is up to Mother Nature.  The flowers grow, blossom and go to seed.  If you’d like collect the seed or the birds will do it naturally for you.

Growing Conditions

Growing Conditions for Safflower Seeds
  • Full sun
  • Grows in a variety of soil conditions but loves high nitrogen and phosphorus content
  • 100 days to seed
  • Safflower love hot, dry conditions

Products on Amazon

Safflower Tea – has some medical claims to helping prevent “hardening of the arteries,” lower cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease 


Feed the birds and plant flowers with some of the seed.


Plant Characteristics

  • Annual with a really long tap root
  • Flowers range from yellow, orange and reds
  • Each seed produces a stem is 2.5 – 3 feet high
  • Each stem produces branches with loads of flowers that bloom in mid & late summer
  • Each flower produces 10-20 seeds in the late fall
  • Butterflies enjoy the nectar of the flowers when migrating

Harvesting Seeds

Harvesting Safflower Seeds
  • Leave the flowers dry on the plants.  The seed mature for 4-5 weeks after flowering ends.
  • You do don’t have to harvest the seeds if you don’t wish. The birds will do it for you.
  • If you want to save some seeds, then wear protective gloves and harvest the flower buds in a paper bag.  
  • Safflower leaves are a little picky (that is why I use gloves to harvest), so I tend to leave them stay where they grow until I am ready to harvest. 
  • Frost kills the taproot and the annual plant, so next year you can start all over again next year if you wish.


If you are looking to limit squirrels, blackbirds, grackles and other not so welcomed critters at your feeders, buy safflower seed to use in feeders or try your hand at growing your own.

Besides detering the unwanted critters, the seed will attract plenty of welcomed backyard birds.

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