Sunflowers are a summertime delight and Illinois Willows is proud to offer fresh-cut stems and floral arrangements throughout their blooming season right here in Illinois. Our blooming season typically runs from approximately May to October. Sunflowers offer many Instagram-worthy photo options and also provide a ray of sunshine to brighten a friend or loved one’s day. They also make a perfect kitchen instant perk-me-up for a rainy summer’s day.
Sunflowers, also known as helianthus annuus, are considered to be a part of the daisy family. Named from the Greek words “helios” for sun and “anthos” for flower, they received their name due to their ability to turn towards the sun. Once they have stopped blooming, sunflowers will no longer turn towards the sun. Sunflowers typically face eastward when they have matured. This process is known as heliotropism. It allows for the flower to maximize growth and sunlight.
Some researchers suggest that sunflowers may have been domesticated before corn, so it is no wonder that we have long since enjoyed their unique color, shape, and beauty. Sunflowers are brilliant flowers known for bringing joy, happiness, and adoration to their devoted fans. Sunflowers are native to North America and were used by American Indian Tribes for flour, seeds, and oil. Many people believed that sunflowers had medicinal healing abilities. Sunflowers even inspired Vincent van Gogh’s famed painting series and some of the work of Claude Monet.
Sunflowers tend to grow best in full sunlight. They bloom in the summer and are known to attract butterflies, bees, and some birds. Sunflowers are very heat-resistant and tend to perform best in the hot summer months. Sunflowers need room to grow and tend to not develop to their potential when planted too closely together. Sunflowers grown from seed tend to develop a more sturdy and supportive root system.
Some varieties of sunflowers can grow up to 16 feet or more in height; however, there have been varieties grown for smaller areas, as well. The Guinness Book of World Records lists a sunflower growing over 30 feet in height requiring scaffolding in order to support it. The head of a large mature sunflower can grow up to thirty inches in diameter.
Types of Sunflowers
There are over seventy varieties of sunflowers available, with only three of those originating from South America. The remainder of the varieties are native to North American. Sunflowers are currently grown and cultivated in 48 states. Locally, Mr. Willows grows four varieties at his farm located in Seymour, Illinois. These locally-grown flowers are high-quality and add a pop of color and beauty to any room.
Uses for Sunflowers
Sunflowers make beautiful floral arrangements. Fresh cut sunflowers should be kept in water at room temperature. The water should be changed daily. It is important to keep the flowers well-hydrated as their large size often causes them to dry out quickly. Sunflowers have heavy heads and a large stem; therefore, a sturdy vase or display option should be chosen to provide maximal support for the flower. Fresh cut sunflowers should last for approximately one week and up to ten days. Flowers should be cut in the morning as to decrease the amount of wilting. Your fresh-cut arrangement should also be kept out of drafty areas and direct sunlight.
Sunflowers are most often harvested for seeds and/or oils but they have attracted an appreciative audience of the flower itself throughout the years. Seeds from sunflowers have been used for snacks and components of feed for animals, as well. One sunflower head can produce up to 1,000 sunflower seeds. Sunflower oil is considered to be naturally free of trans fats and is low in fatty acids. Dried sunflower heads have also been used for cleaning materials and scrub pads. Sunflower heads have also been set out as a natural bird feeder allowing the birds to eat directly from the flower.
Wedding and Decor Trends
Sunflowers are a beautiful addition to a summer or fall wedding. Pops of vivid yellow flowers add immeasurable beauty to any wedding theme. Whether using sunflowers alone to create a bold statement or adding in other floral selections to soften the look, sunflowers are a great option to consider. They add an element of charm to even the most elegant of weddings.
Sunflowers have also been the inspiration for modern wallpaper, sunburst shaped mirrors, and other wall decor. Our fresh-cut bouquets and arrangements will add the perfect touch to your next gathering or event. Perhaps our favorite reason to give or receive a bouquet of sunflowers, however, is just because they light up a room and put a smile on most everyone’s face.
Visit our booth at Urbana’s Market at the Square to preview our selection of cut sunflowers which we sell by the stem or as a component of our seasonal cut flower bouquets. Check out our other season product offerings here available at the farmers market, by special order, and for wholesale. You can find us on the south end of the market, along Illinois Street. And be sure to keep up with Illinois Willows on Facebook and Instagram.