Common Names: Sunflower
Botanical names: Helianthus, (hee-li-ANTH-us)
Availability: Year round; some species limited by season
Vase life: 7 to 10 days
Storage temperatures: 36 - 38 degrees Fahrenheit
Ethylene Sensitive: No
Description: Very large daisy-like composite blossoms, with petals (ray florets) surrounding a contrasting center (disc florets).
Color: Yellows, oranges, reds, browns and creams. Contrasting center colors are available. Dyed tints are also available.
Botanical facts: The name is from the Greek words helios (sun) and anthos (flower).
Design notes: Sunflowers are bold focal flowers. The heavy heads and large stems require the use of reinforced floral foam in floral design. The development of cultivars with smaller heads has made the sunflower more popular in floral design.
Purchasing hints: Purchase unbruised buds that are just opening. Avoid flowers with yellow or wilted leaves.
Conditioning: Remove all foliage that will be below the water line. Cut under water with a sharp knife. Hydrate in a solution of warm water and commercial floral preservative / floral food for two hours before storage or usage. Sunflowers dry well. Prop several stems in a vase, or hang them in a well-ventilated, warm area and allow them to air dry.
Additional notes: Although most Americans view sunflowers as a flower from France, the sunflower is a native of Mexico and Peru, introduced into this country in the sixteenth century. The genus Helianthus, to which the Sunflower belongs, contains about fifty species, chiefly natives of North America; many are indigenous to the Rocky Mountains, others to tropical America, and a few species are found in Peru and Chile. In Peru, this flower was much reverenced by the Aztecs, and in their temples of the Sun, the priestesses were crowned with Sunflowers and carried them in their hands. The early Spanish conquerors found in these temples numerous representations of the Sunflower wrought in pure gold.