Sunflowers are one of the most beloved plants in any garden and bring cheer and warmth to any home. Due to the great heights they reach, they are also one of the most satisfying plants to grow. Part of the Asteraceae family, during budding and true to their name, these lovely plants face east at dawn and track the sun to the west as the day passes.
These bright and beautiful plants have been in use since approximately 3000 BCE in the area that is now Mexico. Their seeds provided bread and dyes, while their stalks provided handy building material. They even helped support other plants like beans due to their sturdy, tall presence.
By the 18th they had not only reached Europe but were being cultivated primarily for the oil they yield. Russia became an especially big proponent of sunflower oil and developed larger cultivars like Mammoth Russian and Peredovik, which made their way into the Canadian markets. Other heirloom varieties trace back to China and Italy, where this beautiful and useful plant was also valued.
Today there are a wide array of varieties, colours and sizes to choose from. Sunflowers are beloved by bees, and do best in (of course) a very sunny location. They are not fussy, tolerating a variety of soil pH levels. The seeds they produce make a delicious and healthy snack, and are easy to harvest at end of season once they have fully dried on their heads.
Sunflowers also make beautiful bouquets, especially when paired with other autumn flowers in rich, vibrant colours. According to Bloomex, Canada’s largest florist, sunflowers are one of their most popular flower choices and are available from late August to mid October. They symbolize loyalty, longevity and love so they are guaranteed to brighten any day.
Sunflowers are a perennial best seller and work well to bring cheer as well as for Thanksgiving gifts and table arrangements. If you create your own sunflower bouquets, be sure to soak the heads when you bring in the flowers. This will help them plump up and stay fresher, longer. Place your sunflowers in a sturdy container that can support their stalks. Add other flowers to the arrangement once the sunflowers are positioned. Bloomex recommends pairing them with dark blue delphiniums, coral or white roses, pink lilies, or richly coloured chrysanthemums and gerberas for high impact.