Happy flowers, which lift your spirits and add a touch of sunshine to a room, is often how sunflowers are described. And now is their peak season. So you'll find them in plentiful supply at New Covent Garden Flower Market. Not only this popular variety called Sunrich at D G Wholesale Flowers, but also in a range of sizes, colours and heights. Read on to find out more…
From the Asteraceae family, the botanical name for the sunflower is Helianthus annuus. The name Helianthus is derived from the Greek 'helios' meaning sun and 'anthos' meaning flower, reflecting their heliotropic nature of turning towards and following the sun.
The flower heads are made up of 'petals' (ray florets) surrounding central disks that comprise hundreds of tiny yellow, brown or green flowers (disk florets).
Traditional varieties have one bloom per stem and they have yellow petals and a dark centre. But you'll also find sunflowers with mahogany-red, pale lemon and bi-coloured petals.
Sunflowers are available all year round, although some varieties may only be available during the peak season of June through to October.
This report will concentrate solely on the cut flower. But at this time of year, you may also find sunflower plants available at Nine Elms.
Sunrich has yellow petals with a black centre. Available at S Robert Allen.
A miniature variety of sunflower that you'll find at the Market is Sonja. Available at D G Wholesale Flowers.
At Dennis Edwards Flowers, as well as standard Sonja, you'll also find this variety with a slightly larger flower head.
Vin Fresh has a green centre and yellow petals. Available at D G Wholesale Flowers.
With pale lemon petals and a dark centre is this Premier Lemon variety. Available at Dennis Edwards Flowers.
This big, double, fluffy variety of sunflower is called Teddy Bear and it's available at Dennis Edwards Flowers.
Jua Inca is the name of this variety, which has mahogany and gold bi-colour petals, with a dark centre. Available at Dennis Edwards Flowers.
Prado Red has striking flowers that are a dark, mahogany-red, with a bright, golden halo around the centres. Available at Dennis Edwards Flowers.
At Zest Flowers, you'll find home-grown sunflowers with pale lemon petals and dark centres.
Sunflowers tend to come in bunches of 5 or 10 stems. With regards to care, re-cut the stems on an angle with a clean, sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of the stem. Their vase life is usually 5-10 days.
David at D G Wholesale Flowers says: 'At the moment, sunflowers are generally coming in from Holland and Italy. During the winter months though, they usually come from Israel and have thinner stems'.
With their captivating flower heads, sunflowers have such striking visual impact. They look wonderful displayed simply on their own in a vase. Try using a mixture of varieties in a design too, as shown by this beautiful rustic arrangement by Bloomsbury Flowers.
(Source : 'Flower Arranging' book by Mark Welford & Stephen Wicks of Bloomsbury Flowers. Published by Dorling Kindersley)
Topiary trees are a popular way of using this wonderful bloom. Either insert the flower heads into a floral foam sphere, as shown on The Big Allotment Challenge…
(Source : The Big Allotment Challenge)
…or use the sunflowers whole, with their stems being part of the design. Here's an example.
For something more extravagant and large scale, how about these awe-inspiring arrangements by Preston Bailey?
(Source : Preston Bailey)
Sonja, with their small flower heads, are ideal for wedding flower designs. In this bridal bouquet, they've been combined with Teddy Bear sunflowers, nigella and irises. They look equally lovely, simply arranged on their own in hand-tied designs, as shown here.
(Source : Style Me Pretty / Tara Welch Photography)
You can also use sunflowers in wreaths (either for a door or table centre), bouquets and even hanging designs like these. And you'll get a second life from them by removing their faded petals, leaving the attractive centres…perfect for a textural design.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this month's Product Profile and it's inspired you with ideas for using sunflowers. Please do ask away below if you have any questions or would like to make any general comments about these fabulous blooms. We'd love to hear from you…
P.S. Did you know that in the Language of Flowers, sunflowers symbolise pride and adoration?