My best advice for arranging with sunflowers is “DON’T.”  Just let them fall into place and their heads should find spaces in a graceful, natural way.  The fresh water in this vase will cloud in a few days and that’s the sign for changing the water and giving the flowers a 1” new cut.

Just came home from Trader Joes and found a total display of green centered sunflowers. They are my favorites so it took restraint not to buy them all. Here’s a bit of information on sunflowers that I hope you will enjoy.

Annual sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are native to both North and South America.  They grow from between 5 and 12 feet tall and have a large inflorescence (flowering head).

The head of a sunflower is an inflorescence with a very tight group of sessile (directly attached) or nearly sessile disc and ray flowers. These individual disc and ray flowers create the single large flower head.





Inflorescence with Ray and Disc Flower create the composite flower head.

Sunflowers have a phototropic response called heliotropise (sun turning) and the leaves and flower heads follow the sun. The Italian word for sunflower is girasole which means “sun turner.”  If you drive by a field of sunflowers in the morning sunflower heads will be facing east. A return trip in the afternoon finds the heads all facing west.

This photograph was taken in early morning and the sunflower heads are still sleeping with heads facing downward.

Growing sunflowers can be fun but aware that they are very hungry flowers and take the nutrients out of the soil.In areas with toxic waste spills sunflowers have been planted to cleanse the soil. Careful mulching and compost after their harvest is necessary if you want to regrow plants the next season.

Arranging tips

Annual sunflowers have very thick stems and very heavy heads.  They will need support by being firmly placed into floral foam or by crossing stems and branches to support stems.

Consider the height of the stem and size of the blossom when creating your design.

Watch carefully to avoid “headlight” from the dark centers.  Overlapping or changing the angles of flower faces creates a graceful rhythm in floral designs.  Let the flowers be your guide and don’t fuss too much with placement.

Choose complementary flowers carefully. Pay attention to the size and color of materials in your design.

Here green callicarpa branches, solidago, viburnum berries and grasses mix with sunflowers creating a lush autumn design. Dark and light colors and soft and shiny textures create interesting contrast and movement. Better stop soon because with the heavy sunflower stems my hand will not be big enough to hold the bouquet.