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sunflower, Mirasol, Marigold of Peru
Sunflowers have nodding
daisylike blossoms, 2 to 10 or more inches in diameter
(depending on cultivar), with ray flowers (“petals”) surrounding
central disks comprising hundreds of tiny yellow, brown, green
or deep purple flowers. Some varieties (e.g., ‘Teddy Bear’)
appear to not have any disk flowers. Ray-flower length and
quantity, and disk diameter, vary among cultivars.
Stem lengths generally range from 2 to 5 feet. Sunflowers
typically have a single bloom per stem, but they also can be
branched, with several blossoms per stem.
More than 60 varieties of sunflowers are available today as cut
flowers. Natural hues include yellows, from pale lemon yellow to
bright golden yellow; bronzes; browns; reddish-browns; oranges;
creams; and bicolors. Stem-dyed sunflowers (reds and oranges)
have grown in popularity in the last few years.
Sunflowers typically offer five to 14 days of vase life,
depending on cultivar, environment and care.
Available year-round, sunflower production peaks from June
through October. Some varieties, especially novelties, are
available only during the peak months.
Remove sunflowers from the
shipping boxes immediately upon their arrival
(they are highly
susceptible to water stress). Next remove any packaging and stem
bindings as well as any leaves that would be under water in
storage containers. Because
sunflowers are often field grown and
have “hairy” stems, they capture debris, so rinse
tepid running water.
Recut stems with a sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of
stem. Immediately dip or
place stem ends into a hydration
solution (particularly important with sunflowers), then
them into clean, disinfected containers half filled with warm
(100 F to 110 F),
properly proportioned flower-food solution.
After processing, place sunflowers into a floral cooler at 33 F
to 35 F, and allow them to hydrate for at least two hours before
using or selling.
Some cultivars of sunflowers are sensitive to ethylene gas, but
many are not affected. To be safe, make sure your purchases
are treated with an ethylene
inhibitor at the grower level or during transportation, and
keep them away from sources of
ethylene (fruit, cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust).
Recut stems, wash containers and change flower-food solution
day to prevent bacteria buildup and keep nutrient solution
flowing up the stems.
somewhat geotropic (affected by gravity), so store them as
possible, particularly at room temperatures, so their heads
won’t nod even more.
Advise customers to recut the stems and change the vase solution
every other day.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
The genus name Helianthus is derived from the Greek
helios, meaning “sun,” and anthos, meaning “flower,”
reflecting these flowers’ heliotropic nature of turning
toward and following the sun. The specific epithet annuus
means “annual,” referring to the plant’s one-year life
is a member of the Asteraceae/Compositae
family. Close relatives include chrysanthemums, Gerberas,
Dahlias, Zinnias, Asters, marigolds,
bachelor’s buttons and black-eyed Susans.
HOME SWEET HOME
Sunflowers are native to the Americas, from southern Canada
to South America. Evidence indicates that they were first
domesticated in Mexico.
Look for fully open blooms, but watch that the centers (disk
flowers) are not showing any pollen.
Check stems for rot, slime or bruises.
Watch for yellow, wilted, dried out or otherwise aging
leaves. Leaf health is a critical indicator of sunflower
longevity—more so than bloom quality.
Some information provided by:
Chain of Life Network® ,
Firefly Dictionary of Plant Names, The: Common & Botanical,
by Harold Bagust
Hortus Third, by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
SAF Flower & Plant Care,
by Terril A Nell, Ph.D. and Michael S. Reid, Ph.D.