“A sunflower field is like a sky with a thousand suns.”- Corina Abdulahm-Negura
We affectionately call it the sunflower. As the North American native, this summertime flower not only brightens up any space it finds itself in with its bright-petaled radiance but is also able to brighten anyone’s day when given as a sweet gift of kindness. A fun fact to make note of when considering how significant the plant is that historically, and still in modern times, they have been harvested for use as medicine, dye, seeds and oil.
Able to withstand the harshest of the sun’s heat, it is amazing how simply stunning this giant flower is. It stands up to 3m tall with large, bristly leaves and creeping roots. Be it in the open, wild fields or in a small garden, sunflowers, in all their splendour and botanical delight, keep their faces turned to follow the movement of the sun from east to west across the sky. This is called heliotropism and it plays an important part of its growth.
With that said, it’s no surprise, then, the symbolism they carry – adoration, loyalty, faith and optimism.
These self-pollinating flowers produce seeds that attract the birds and the bees and butterflies too, which makes for quite the enchanting view. They are also great for the environment at large considering their mystical insect-repellent prowess.
About those seeds, you ask? They carry both male and female organs making it easier for them to keep reproducing hundreds and thousands of seeds which boast nutritious value. These wholesome seeds may come in various colours including black, white, red and black/white striped but they all offer the same health benefits and flavour. Sunflower oil and kernels are a powerhouse of nourishment carrying important vitamins and minerals that children, adults and older people could certainly do with considering how good it is for our hearts.
Looking to make the most out of the presence of this beautiful blossom in your home as a delightful arrangement or in your gardens as a labour of love? Take it from us… You’ll need to learn a few tips and techniques to ensure a happy harvest of one of our favourite summertime blossoms!
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF SUNFLOWERS:
- Make sure to find a sweet spot in a sunlit room so as much of the sun’s goodness can be absorbed by the blossoms.
- Fill a pot or vase with warm to cool tap water mixed with flower preservatives provided by the florist or made at home.
- Cut through the stem at a 45-degree angle leaving enough of the stem to ensure that the flowers settle securely in the vase.
- Strip leaves off the parts of the stem that will be immersed under water leaving just enough at the top to make for a lively final arrangement.
- Recut the stems and replace the water and preservatives every two to three days to prolong the life of the Sunflowers.
- Homemade preservative solutions are easy to make.
- Recipes include key ingredients such as household chlorine bleach, lemon-lime carbonated beverages (e.g., Sprite), fresh lemon juice, brown sugar and white vinegar.
- Find a location where direct sunlight can be absorbed by your floral friends-to-be (for at least up to 6-8 hours per day).
- It’s best to plant sunflower seeds in the summertime season as they flourish better in warmer temperatures.
- Preparation of the bed you’ll plant them in is an important part of the process.
- Sunflowers have quite a hearty appetite and thrive in nutrient-rich soil so add lots of organic matter, composted manure or granular fertiliser to the soil prior to planting the seeds.
- Provide plenty of space for the spreading of their roots (especially for lower-growing varieties).
- Ensure that the soil is moist and well-drained.
- Watering the seeds is just as important as filling the soil with nutrients.
- While seeds are germinating, they require about 7litres of water a week.
- The pretty plants are drought tolerant but consistent growth is dependent on regular watering.
- Dig about a metre deep with a half a metre spacing in between rows to make sure the space isn’t too compacted.
- You can plant multiple seeds in one digging. As they grow you will be able to tell and pick apart the stronger plants from the weaker ones.
- Spread netting over the planted area until they germinate to protect seeds from being eaten by birds.
- FYI: Sunflowers may arrive in bud, like lilies and roses, only to open up with some well administered TLC. When growing them in your garden, offer them just as much TLC, if not more.
As the sunny seasons come to an end, you will find that so will the show-stopping allure of the sunflowers you have planted. Good news is that the seeds they yield in the process will be ready for you to harvest and enjoy, feed to the birds in the winter or replant upon the return of summer.