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Forever immortalised by Van Gogh, the majestic sunflower is one of the most instantly recognisable flowers in the world. With their sunny yellow petals and cheerful demeanour a sunflower embodies all that is summer and makes the perfect uplifting gift. No matter how you choose to display them these gorgeous flowers are sure to steal the show.

The sunflower originates from North America and was first cultivated back in 3,500 BC by American-Indian tribes. In the late 16th century Spanish explorers brought the sunflower to Europe where it was widely cultivated for its oil and striking beauty, making it a popular flower for decoration in homes and gardens, which it still is today.

Sunflowers are so named because they are heliotropic, which means they slowly turn throughout the day to face the sun as it goes from East to West. In Greek mythology, this is explained by the legend that when the sun god Apollo refused to reciprocate the love of the nymph Clytia, she died of a broken heart and was transformed into a sunflower so she could continue to follow her beloved even in death.

Scientific name: Helianthus

Common name: Sunflower
Family: Asteraceae

Availability: May-October with limited availability during the rest of the year.
Vase life: Approx. 7-10 days.

Colour range: Pale yellow, bright yellow, orange, tawny red.

Care tips

  • Cut the stems diagonally 2-3cm from the bottom.
  • Remove any foliage that may come into contact with the water.
  • Fill a clean vase almost full with tap water and add flower food as directed on the packet.
  • Place your sunflowers carefully into the water. These flowers are best displayed with only a few centimetres of stem showing above the rim of the vase.
  • Position your sunflowers in a room of moderate temperature and keep water levels topped up at all times.
  • Re-cut the stems every two days and change the water completely.

Note: Get a second life from your sunflowers by removing faded petals and foliage as these often fade before the sunflower head.

For the Home

Sunflowers look fabulous displayed in a tall vase on their own or combined with other brightly coloured flowers such as cerise roses and purple lisianthus.

Sunflowers are also an easy flower to dry out, so if you want to preserve your arrangement simply hang the flowers upside down in a cool place with good circulation for between two and four weeks.


For Brides

Striking and individual in appearance, sunflowers are a wonderful way to inject some cheery sunshine into your wedding day. The smaller headed varieties will add a dash of colour to tied posies and table vases, while their taller relations would look impressive arranged with strong foliage to show off their beauty.

"Sunflowers are a favourite among many brides. They're a perfect choice for rustic weddings and have colour and charm in abundance. As they have such large and striking flower heads they can be budget-friendly too as you don't need to use very many to make a statement."

Steve Betts, Wedding Flowers Expert

The Meaning of Sunflower

Different faiths and cultures may put a different emphasis on the meaning of the sunflower but it is widely accepted that sunflowers symbolise admiration, loyalty and longevity.

Much of the meaning of sunflowers stems from its namesake, the sun.

Did you know?

  • The sunflower is the national flower of Russia and Ukraine.
  • The sunflower was worshipped by the Incas due to their resemblance to the life giving sun.
  • Sunflower seeds are full of calcium.
  • The tallest sunflower ever recorded was 8.23m (27ft). It was measured in Kaarst, Germany on September 2th 2012.

Source: Cut Flowers - A practical guide to their selection and care by Interflora florist Su Whale

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