If you've ever stood in a field of high stalks or been handed a bouquet of smiling sunnies, you known the captivating beauty a sunflower holds and its ability to lift your mood.
Named for their resemblance to the sun, these tall flowers invoke feelings of warmth, summer, and play. A symbol of happiness, optimism, honesty, peace, and devotion, sunflowers have long served as a muse for artists (Van Gogh) and poets (William Blake), making them our most unique and exciting new heirloom plant.
The closer you look, the more is revealed through sunshine-yellow petals surrounding a disc. Unlike most flowers, the disc at the center of a sunflower is made up of tiny, circular flowers (known as disc florets), causing the flower to appear larger and to better attract pollinators and beneficial insects (nectar produced is another attractant). Because of this, sunflowers are often planted near crops for protection.
Except for three South American varieties, sunflowers are native to North and Central America. A part of the Asteraceae family along with asters and daisies, the sturdy flowers can reach up to six feet tall, with varieties of almost every size. The first sunflower to grow on an indoor hybriponic system, Gardyn’s Sunflowers, with their bright yellow petals and brown and green centers, are the smallest variety to date and do not produce pollen (a.k.a. no yellow stains) or seeds (no mess), making them suitable to gift, display and whirl into bouquets.
Scientifically proven to improve mood, flowers have been used to pull patients out of depression (especially in yellow) and brighten any room they enter. A plethora of rich autumn hues, including burnt oranges, rusty reds, bi-colored blushes, and even ivory-colored petals circling cocoa, green, and yellow centers, come together in mesmerizing combinations. Petals range from short and thick to long, slender, and sometimes frilly. On a Gardyn, one sunflower yCube can grow 3-4 waves, meaning each plant can produce up to 20 flowers, keeping your house happy and mood light, particularly in the darker winter months.
A common crop among native tribes, seeds were ground up and mixed with flour to make bread. Like today, seeds were cracked, eaten, and squeezed to produce oil. This important crop also served as a purple dye for textiles and body painting and was given medicinally for everything from snakebites to beauty treatments. When dried, the stalk of a sunflower was used as a building material. In Mexico, Aztec priestesses wore headdresses of sunflowers, the flowers, and seeds serving as integral parts of many ceremonies.
The most widely-grown cut flower worldwide, evidence suggests the sunflower was first cultivated 4,500 years ago, with some archaeologists believing domestication to predate that of corn.
Exotic to Spanish explorers in the 1500s, the plant was brought back to Europe, where it spread. In the 18th century, fond of the flower, Peter the Great introduced it to Russia, where farming became common and continued to spread throughout Europe.
Today, the sunflower holds strong as a symbol of hope and unity.
Ukraine’s national flower, sunflowers grow in abundance throughout Ukrainian villages, gardens, and crop fields. Woven into flower crowns and sewn into clothing they are a central part of celebrations. A symbol of solidarity, countries, organizations, and individuals are showing their support for the Ukrainian people in this time of tragedy. Known as Soniashynyk in Ukrainian, the flower has been seen across the globe from Jill Biden’s right sleeve, to protesters in the streets, to new works of art.