No flower can lift someone’s spirits like sunflowers can. They are bright and cheery, warm and inviting – just like the sun. The yellow petals resemble the rays of the sun and the tall, green stems suggest strength and stability. As one of the most discernible blooms in the world, it is the first type of plant children learn to recognise and admire.
Prized for their commercial and ornamental use, these prolific growers have a rich history and deep symbolism. They will brighten up whatever space they are in and whether you choose to add a bit of joy to your home or order sunflowers delivery for a friend, you can be sure you have sent a powerful message.
What Are the Flower’s Origins?
These flowers are native to the Americas and were cultivated around 3000 BC as a valued food source. As far as historians can tell, these flowers were worshipped by the Aztecs and were believed to be the physical incarnation of their beloved sun gods. Priestesses in the Incan empire wore golden sunflowers on their priestly garments. Images of the flower have been discovered in ancient temples in the Andes.
So, the plant has been around for a long time, but its popularity spread as the exploration of the New World continued and it was brought to Australia in the late 1800s to be grown as a source of poultry feed.
In the 1940s its use as an oil seed crop started the sunflower industry, with the oil being rich in vitamins A and D, as well as iron and calcium. The flower is also cultivated for its beauty and ornamental value, it has been prized in works of art for many centuries and it’s a part of many cultures. Today there are around 70 varieties and not all of them have seeds, like the dwarf types that can be grown indoors.
Understanding the Symbolism
The meaning of the sunflower varies based on cultural and religious roots, but many aspects of its symbolism remain constant in legends and mythology.
According to Greek mythology, its origin is connected to a story of unrequited love. Clytie adored Apollo, the God of the Sun, and spent her days gazing skyward in the hope he may look down upon her. But his heart belonged to another and when their love failed to bloom she refused to eat or drink, hanging her head in sorrow.
In time, the Gods felt sorry for her and she was transformed into a sunflower, forever able to follow Apollo’s path, and her sadness now glowed radiantly in happy yellow sunray petals of her own. Hence, the symbol of dedication.
These plants are commonly believed to seek out the light and hold their heads high as if in worship and adoration. Its sunny disposition and vibrant colours are seen as a sign of positivity and joy, happiness and radiance. For these reasons, it is frequently part of celebratory and joyous occasions.
Bouquets made of these flowers are considered a good luck charm for beginning a new path in life. In Chinese culture, they are often given for graduation or starting a new career.
The sunflower is viewed as a sign of vitality and longevity, loyalty and admiration. That said, surprising loved one’s with sunflowers delivery might be the easiest way to show them your appreciation and admiration, either as a single stem or in a gorgeous sunflower floral arrangement.
Why Do They Follow the Sun?
This phenomenon is called heliotropism – solar tracking or sun turning, a charming characteristic of the flower. Scientists explain it as the plant’s circadian rhythm, behavioural changes tied to an internal clock that humans also have, which follows a 24-hour cycle.
The young buds face east at dawn to greet the sun, and then slowly turn west as the sun moves across the sky. During the night, it turns back east to begin the cycle again. This movement is a result of the stem elongating at different times of the day.
Once the flower is mature, its weighty head stops turning and faces eastwards. This is again an advantage because it gathers warmth, which attracts bees and enables pollination, ultimately leading to seed production. All in all, mother nature’s work of miracle.
Some Other Facts About These Lovely FLowers
As if resembling the sun, and following it was not enough, the sunflowers have other features that make them even more fascinating. Here are a few amazing facts about them that you might not have known:
- The sunflower’s seeds follow the Fibonacci sequence, each number in the sequence is the sum of the two previous numbers. Most things in nature tend to follow this pattern.
- They can decontaminate the soil and soak up hazardous materials such as uranium. Lead and even arsenic. When the last nuclear bomb was destroyed in Ukraine, they planted a field of sunflowers, symbolising peace. It is also the country’s national flower.
- Inside the outer petalled edge of the sunflower sits a bed of up to 2000 individual flowers or florets, embedded in the disk of the head. Take a closer look next time you see one, and you will notice this remarkable architecture.
- Not all sunflowers have sunshine-yellow petals, some hybrids come in golden yellow, cream, white, rust, and even bi-coloured petals.
- A sunflower bouquet can last up to 10 days in a vase if you put a little bit of care into it, and that is quite easy.
- Before you put them in a vase, cut around 2cm off the stems at an angle with a sharp knife, helping the stem to take up water.
- Take off any foliage that will be soaked in the water to avoid bacteria buildup.
- Make sure you keep their water topped up and change it frequently.
- Keep them at a moderate temperature and out of direct sunlight. They love it when they are in the ground, but they will wilt faster when they are cut.
- Leave them fairly tall for the best display, in a tall vase with their heads just above the rim.
Sunflower arrangements are the perfect combination of looks and character, stunningly beautiful and fit for every moment you share with your loved ones. Brighten the hearts and homes with a fresh sunflower bouquet and bring the sunshine inside.