Everything You Need to Know About the Sunflower

By Yukta Gutta

The sunflower is a classic and versatile flower with a history that may surprise you. Even if you think the sunflower isn’t for you, pairing this golden stem with other flowers creates a show-stopping centerpiece or gift, guaranteed to capture anyone’s attention. From the meaning of the stem to some of our favorite bouquets, we’re breaking down the ins and outs of the sunflower below.

What the Sunflower Represents

The sunflower is beautiful as is, but understanding what the flower represents adds another level of beauty.

Although the sunflower’s meaning varies based on religious and cultural roots, the sunflower’s meaning is mentioned consistently in legends and mythology. The sunflower’s botanical name—Helianthus annuus—is Greek; “helios” means sun and “anthos” means flower. The botanical name directly translates to “sunflower annual,” which is quite fitting for this gorgeous plant. In fact, it’s also why we named one of our stunning sunflower bouquets The Helios.”

The Greeks explained the significance of the sunflower through mythology; the legend associated with the sunflower is just as captivating as the sunflower itself. The Greeks celebrated the sunflower’s dedication to the sun through a story of a water nymph who loved Apollo, the god of the sun. The ancient Greeks believed that the water nymph would sit on the earth, gaze at the sun (Apollo, of course) daily. Since Apollo did not notice the water nymph’s attention, the other gods empathized and turned her into a beautiful sunflower.

Adoration of the sunflower is not restricted to western civilization. In China, the sunflower represents happiness, intelligence, vitality, good fortune, and longevity. In fact, our bouquet The Sonny, with several sunflowers and limonium included, was designed with happiness in mind. The sunflower’s golden petals and sun-like blossom symbolize more than the sun itself; the sunflower’s meaning has expanded to include spiritual knowledge and a continual quest for truth. The Incans and Aztecs used sunflowers in their rituals; Incan priestesses wore golden sunflowers on their garb and sunflower images are prevalent in Aztec temples. Indigenous cultures of North America consider sunflowers a symbol of harvest, bounty, and provision.

Overall, the sunflower represents so much more than just the sun—the sunflower is a continual representation of cultural traditions.

Fun Facts about the Sunflower

Flowers, Flowers, and more Flowers!

Helianthus (the botanical name for sunflower) consists of 70 different species! Their shapes, lengths, and colors can be quite different. Each sunflower consists of thousands of smaller flowers. The sunflower’s yellow petals and fuzzy brown centers are easily recognizable, but inside the brown centers are actually thousands of individual sunflowers.

Where Did the Sunflower Originate From?

Sunflowers are one of the few crop species that originated in North America; the flower spread across the North American continent since Indigenous people domesticated the crop and carried it eastward and southward of North America. Speaking of the great outdoors, our bouquet The Sierra was inspired by one of North America’s most beautiful natural lands, the Sierra Nevada mountain range. With a more rustic design full of wildflower-like blooms, The Sierra brings a little bit of the great outdoors into your home.

Do Sunflowers Actually Follow the Sun?

Sunflowers are heliotropic, which is essentially a method plants use to make optimum use of light by moving in the sun’s direction. Sunflowers track the sun during the day from east to west, and overnight they quickly retreat from west to east. The sunflower’s buds are heliotropic until the end of the bud stage, and after that, the matured flower faces east and basks in the glory of the sun. No bouquet is more representative of a sunny disposition than our most luxe sunflower bouquet, The Solstice. Paired with whimsical craspedia and sprigs of cool blue thistle, this stunner is a representation of the summertime's warm hues.

What Sunflowers Are You Looking For?

The sunflower is an incredibly versatile stem and will vitalize any floral arrangement and suit any theme you desire!

If you’re looking for bright hues that supplement the sunflower’s radiance, consider The Sierra - the sunflower is beautifully complemented by dazzling wildflowers that pay tribute to the Sierra Nevada mountain range’s earthy tones.

If you’re looking to celebrate summer, The Solstice is your ideal bouquet. The Solstice is a showstopper—the arrangement’s warmth and cooler hues is undoubtedly characteristic of summer. The Solstice includes a succulent and eucalyptus; this unique arrangement is a clear commemoration of summer!

If you’re looking for merriment, The Sonny is the way to go! Both The Sonny and Double the Sonny encapsulate the happiness the sunflower represents; if you wish to celebrate summer or to brighten someone’s day, The Sonny’s vibrancy will never cease to amaze.

Finally, if you’re looking for a truly majestic, eye-catching bouquet, The Helios will not disappoint. This bouquet exhibits Apollo’s brilliance—the Helios will radiate in any space with its robust sunflower count!

Can’t choose just one bouquet? You can shop our entire sunflower collection here!

How to Care for Your Sunflowers

If your sunflowers have arrived closed up, do not worry! Follow these steps and with proper care, your sunflowers will bloom and remain lively.

  1. Find a Vase - Place your stems in a clean vase with ¾ cool tap water and flower food. Replace the vase water on day 3 for longevity!
  2. Trim Those Stems - Cut your sunflowers’ stems at an angle so that they can absorb as much water as possible. After the initial cut, be sure to check the stems every couple days, and snip an inch or so.
  3. Remove Leaves - Take off excess leaves, and beware of leaves that are below the water line since they will decompose and cause bacteria to grow, which will severely shorten your flowers’ lifespan.
  4. Keep Them Cool - Place your flowers in a cool area.

So next time you see this golden stem in a field or in a vase, remember that it’s far from your typical flower!