About SunflowersFacts, Types, Meaning and Care Tips
Sunflowers are the very embodiment of summer. With their bright, yellow petals and tall green stems, its easy to see why so many people love them. Often used as a symbol of happiness and congratulations, there are many things you can learn about this wonderful flower. From interesting facts to tips on how to grow your own, were going to share with you everything you need to know about sunflowers.
The sunflower has many meanings across the world. Different cultures believe it means anything from positivity and strength to admiration and loyalty.
In Chinese culture, sunflowers are said to mean good luck and lasting happiness which is why they are often given at graduations and at the start of a new business.
The ancient Greeks believed that sunflowers turned towards the sun because of the nymph Clytie's adoration of Apollo, the God of the Sun. At first he loved her too but then he turned his affections towards another nymph. In a jealous rage, Clytie told the other nymph's father and as punishment he buried her alive. Outraged, Apollo turned Clytie into a sunflower, but her love for him was so strong she watched him move across the sky each day - just as sunflowers follow the sun.
The scientific name for the sunflower is Helianthus. It comes from the Greek words "helios", meaning sun, and "anthus", meaning flower.
a few facts about Sunflowers
Sunflowers may be one of the most popular summer blooms but there are still a few things that people dont know about this gorgeous flower. Heres our list of interesting sunflower facts that you may not have known:
Types of Sunflowers
There are over 80 species of sunflower, ranging in colour from bright and pale yellow to orange, pink and tawny red.
As there are so many different types of sunflower we've split some of the most popular into three groups; tall sunflowers, short sunflowers and coloured sunflowers.
Grows up to about 60cm (2ft) and has long, vibrant yellow petals which look great in garden planters.
Perhaps the most common of sunflowers, they grow between 1.5 - 2.1m (5-7ft tall). Sporting gorgeous bright, yellow petals, they make beautiful cut bouquets.
As the tiniest type of sunflower they only reach about 50cm (20 inches). These bright yellow blooms are ideal for bouquets.
Italian WhiteHas a chocolate centre and lovely pale yellow (almost white) petals that grow roughly 10 cm (4 inches) long. They grow to about 2m (5-7ft tall).
Teddy BearProbably the most unusual sunflower on our list, the teddy bear is a big puffy bloom that grows up to about 1.8m (6ft).
Little BeckaA gorgeous little bicolour sunflower, it only grows to about 90cm tall (3ft) with 15cm (6 inch) flower heads. They have a beautiful yellow halo surrounding rusty-red petals.
Sunflower care tips
Taking care of cut sunflowers is easy, as long as you remember the basics. Dont worry though, weve got this quick sunflower care guide to help you:
Note Get more life from your sunflowers by removing faded petals and foliage as these often fade before the flower head.
Style Tip Sunflowers look their best when the heads are slightly above the rim of the vase. Choose a tall vase or container that holds 2/3rds of the stems so you can make a beautiful display with your gorgeous blooms.
How to Grow Sunflowers
What better way to celebrate summer than by growing your own sunflowers? Theyre perfect to add some height and colour to any garden. So, weve got some quick tips to help you plant and grow your very own sunflowers.
How do I plant sunflowers?When: The time to plant sunflowers is just as the weather is beginning to warm up - ideally around mid-April to late May.
Where: It's not surprising that sunflowers love the sun, so make sure you plant them in a spot that gets plenty of sunlight (about 6 - 8 hours a day). As sunflowers can grow quite tall, pick a spot near to a fence or wall that you can anchor it to, and somewhere out of the wind.
How: Find a nice big area as sunflower roots like to spread out. Loosen up the soil ready for planting your seeds - dig up and loosen an area about 60cm (23 inches) down and 90cm (35 inches) across. Make sure its well-draining soil.
Sowing: Place two seeds in each spot about 5cm (2 inches) deep and 45cm (18 inches) apart. Leave about 75cm (30 inches) between rows to give them plenty of space.
Water: Sunflowers are thirsty so water them often and be gentle. Once established, water them with a lot of water but only once a week, unless it's been very hot or extremely rainy.
Protect: To stop birds getting at the seeds, cover them with some netting until they start to sprout. Protect the seedlings from slugs by placing half a plastic bottle over them.
How do I move a sunflowers?Moving sunflowers to a new spot in the garden isnt overly tricky, it just takes a little bit of care and time. Here are some easy steps for you to follow to make sure you get it right:
Common questions about sunflowers
Do sunflowers follow the sun?Yes and no. When sunflowers are young they track the sun throughout the day and this is called heliotropism. It is believed they do this because they follow a circadian rhythm like we do as humans - they face east at dawn and slowly turn west as the sun moves across the sky before resetting themselves over night.
Mature sunflowers stop tracking the sun and only face east. This is thought to be because they react more strongly to light in the morning, so facing east allows them to remain warmer which then attracts more pollinators.
How tall do sunflowers grow?Depending on the type of sunflower, average sunflowers can be as small as 50cm (20 inches) or as tall as 4.8m (16ft). The world record is 9.17m (30ft).
When is sunflower season in the UK?Sunflowers tend to bloom from the middle of summer through to early autumn - roughly July to September.
Cut sunflowers are available from May to October and are hard to come by the rest of the year. They have a vase life of 7 - 10 days, or possibly longer if given the right care.
After planting, sunflower seeds can take between 50 and 60 days to bloom. Be aware that certain things can affect this such as weather, the type of soil and pollution.
Are sunflowers annuals or perennials?They're both! Some sunflower types are annual (helianthus annuus) which means they need to be replanted every year, and some are perennial (helianthus multiflorus) meaning they come back each year from the same plant. Annual sunflowers are the most common
How do I dry sunflowers?