Solarity and joy
The first and most obvious meaning of the sunflower is connected to the obvious physical characteristics of the flower, to its resemblance to the sun that shines. Sunflower is the flower of solar being, of joy and vivacity. We think of its colors: the golden yellow that fades into the orange of its petals, the dark orange or brown of the central part, the green of its broad leaves and the bust. There is no doubt that if someone gives you a sunflower it definitely wants to emphasize your joyful and cheerful character and the smile with which you face life.
Moreover, as we well know, the sunflower due to the phenomenon known as heliotropism, turns its head (the inflorescence) towards the sun following it throughout the day from east to west. This particular aspect can be translated into the desire to spend a certain period of time together with a loved one (or a dear friend), a whole day or even a lifetime. As the sunflower follows the sun in its daily movement, so whoever gives the flower wants to follow, stay together with the loved one for an important time of their existence.
Sunflower can also express a deep sense of admiration, respect and gratitude. This certainly applies to people but also to Nature itself. For some time the sunflower has been taken over by associations and ecological movements as a symbol of promoting respect for nature and the environment. Already Vincent Van Gogh, the great Dutch painter who painted sunflowers in many of his famous paintings, wanted to convey not only his ideal of love between lovers through the image of sunflower (exploding vitality), but also love and admiration he felt towards Nature itself.
Passionate and sometimes unrequited love
Well before the pre-Columbian civilizations that celebrated the Sun God adorning their temples with sunflowers, Greek mythology, through the metamorphoses of Ovid, tells us the story of the nymph Clizia, the god Apollo and the sunflower. Apollo, according to myth, as the god of the sun crossed the sky with his fiery chariot while the nymph-in-love Clizia followed him incessantly with his gaze. So it was that Apollo, not interested in the love of the beautiful nymph Clizia, transformed it into a sunflower after nine days. Therefore, on the one hand the sunflower can mean a profound attachment to another person, as a symbol of constancy, dedication and absolute loyalty. On the other hand, it can also underline an unrequited love (following precisely the history of the Greek myth) and, according to the circumstance, it can also symbolize a fixation or a real obsession.
Celebrate a success
We all observed the fields where sunflowers are grown at least once. We admired their height, which normally exceeds one meter and even touches two meters, the elegant, proud and even a little superb way in which the plant stands upright at its peak in the middle of the day. This is why the sunflower can easily be given on several occasions in which you want to celebrate a success, a victory, an important goal achieved (a degree, a promotion, a victory in a sports competition). Careful though to choose the recipient well! If you donate a sunflower to your head that, notoriously, sins of pride and pride, these could read in your gesture a wish to underline just these little flaws.
The flower of the sunflower
We have seen some of the most curious meanings and implications that this flower can have but as we have pointed out, much of the symbolism of this flower is due to its very botanical characteristics. The color in the first place is an aspect that strikes and that immediately radiates joy and radiance in those who look at this flower.
It is no coincidence therefore that many painters have chosen sunflower as a symbolic flower for many paintings. One above all, also known to those who don't know much about painting, it is surely Van Gogh who painted some of the most beautiful sunflowers in history.
The heliotropism of this flower is another highly valued and very symbolic aspect of this flower, which follows the sun throughout the day. These are all special and particular aspects of this flower, but from a morphological point of view, the flower of the sunflower, how is it done? First of all in the sunflower, what we usually consider as a single flower is actually an inflorescence (also called flower head) or a set of flowers. The sunflower in fact has the floral structure of the Asteraceae, a genus of plants known because of the presence of a peduncle to which the bracts are attached on which are inserted the flowers of the disk and the flowers of the petals.
The sunflower as a carrier of light
As we understand the presence of a sunflower in a room can make you feel good on its own. So why not give a sunflower to someone who is in a state of suffering, sickness, or just loneliness? Bringing the "flower that follows the light" can liven up an environment but certainly also the people who live there. We think of lonely people and the elderly in particular.
Moreover, in eastern cultures the sunflower often assumes the meaning of longevity and even immortality, probably because, compared to other flowers, once cut sunflower is preserved for many days before it dries up. We therefore offer this flower wishing the recipient a long and peaceful life.
Still following this sunflower symbolism as a light bearer, we can finally associate this flower with the birth of a new life. Giving a sunflower to a couple of new parents can surely be a good omen so that there is always light in the life of the child and he, through his love for his parents, is always a source of joy and pride for the latter.
How to grow sunflower
The sunflower is an extremely cheerful flower and of very simple cultivation. It can be taken into consideration by anyone who wants to give solarity to the garden or even just to their own balcony. On the market you can find a large number of varieties, of different sizes and colors, suitable for all locations. We can use them in pots, in borders, create rows in the garden or use them for colorful annual hedges, alone or combined with other essences. It is also, for the ease of germination, one of the most suitable flowers for introducing children to gardening.
|Family and gender|
Compositae, Helianthus annuus
|Type of plant||Annual herbaceous|
|colors||Yellow, orange, bronze, brown, red|
|Exposure||Sun / partial shade|
|Ground||Rich, possibly clayey|
|Composting||Bottom with manure; then granular and liquid for flowers|
|Soil humidity||Always fresh|
|Height||From 50 cm to 3 m|
It can be performed in the ground, in pots or in alveolar trays (which allow the subsequent transplantation at home). This last solution is to be preferred if we want to anticipate its birth. You can proceed in any case between March and April: we choose containers that are already rather large because the development will be fast immediately. The ideal seeding depth is about 1 cm. For a quick germination, in addition to giving a lot of light, we maintain high humidity and constant temperatures around 20 ° C.
The transplant can be carried out from May: the sunflower bears this passage well because it has a branched but rather superficial root system.
They are less demanding plants and grow well almost everywhere. The best results are obtained, however, in soils rich in organic matter and provided with a good quantity of clay, able to remain fresh for a long time. The ideal is to always work the area well in advance (even the previous autumn) by incorporating organic soil improver.
For a vigorous growth, a very sunny exposure is necessary. In the Center-South, however, it grows well even in slight shade.
At the time of planting we always keep in mind the path of the sun: let's try to avoid that the flowers look on the wrong side for most of the day!
Sunflowers are extremely water-hungry plants: at all stages of their growth, irrigation must be abundant. In summer, even in the open ground, daily work may be necessary. We pay particular attention to the foot of the plant, very easy to rot: we distribute the water always at a certain distance.
THE SUNFLOWER CALENDAR
|Sowing||March-April (inside), May (abode)|
|Flowering||June to October|