A woman in a mustard-colored sweater embraces a large bouquet of fresh-cut sunflowers in full bloom.
Inspiration,  Our Farms,  Summer Collection

Lilies vs Sunflowers: A Stunning Showdown for the Ages

The ultimate showdown between lilies and sunflowers took place this week on our Instagram page. If you missed it, here’s a recap:

This month, YOU are choosing what we write about on the Enjoy Flowers blog. Each week, our Instagram followers will vote on which variety they want to learn more about. In these articles, we’ll be including fun facts about the variety, its history, its look, and growing tips! Want to participate? Follow us and vote on our Instagram here. And in the meantime, it’s our pleasure to announce our weekly winner: the sunflower! By popular demand, follow along as we cover the sunny story of the spectacular sunflower (stick around until the end and you may find a little surprise that you’ll ‘lily’ like).

Sunflowers of Yesterday and Today

It’s nearly impossible to look at a sunflower and not get a boost of natural sunny joy. But how did these flowers become so darn popular, especially in the USA? Well, these joyous blooms are native to North America and have been around for 5000 plus years. They belong to the daisy family, as do chrysanthemums and lettuce. Crops of sunflowers were commonly found among American Indian tribes and evidence suggests that sunflowers may even have been domesticated before corn.

In the 1500s, sunflowers made their jump to international fame on the boats of Spanish explorers traveling from the Americas to Europe. 

24-Karat Gold As Far as The Eye Can See

Think you know all there is about this American flower staple? We bet not! Did you know that each sunflower is made up of thousands of small flowers and can hold up to 2000 seeds? These seeds can be planted to grow more sunflowers or can be toasted for a savory snack full of vitamins and minerals. But before you start toasting, it’s important to note that sunflower seeds are categorized as oil and non-oil. Oil seeds are used to extract sunflower oil or as birdseed, while non-oil seeds are a healthy snack perfectly fit for human consumption.

When you imagine a sunflower, you think of a tall, yellow beauty, right? Well, the nearly 70 different sunflower varieties actually come in many different colors and sizes. Depending on the variety, they can grow from 3 to 12 or more feet. Their rougher petals can be found in shades of gold, cream, brown, blonde, pink, multicolored, and more. 

Sunflowers are also known to follow the sun as it moves through the sky during the day. In the morning, sunflowers will face the east and track the sun’s movements. Fun fact: “sunflower” in Spanish (“girasol”) and in French (“tournesol”) combine “turn” and “sun” to describe the daily trajectory of this variety. Mature sunflowers, on the other hand, do not follow the sun. Instead, they continually face east.

Growing Tips

If you’re new to the garden game, consider adding some sunflowers to your starting lineup as it is one of the easiest varieties to grow. They’re a “full-sun” flower and are quite resistant to pests and drought. But don’t be fooled by their insatiable desire for sunlight as over-watering can be very detrimental to these golden goddesses. It is actually better to underwater than overwater. Also, when planting sunflowers, it is important to give sufficient space for their notoriously long roots. 

Bonus Round:

You didn’t think we’d miss the opportunity to gab a bit more about one of our favorite varieties, did you?

“Runner-Up” Never Looked So Good

Although the sunflower came out as the champion of the sunflower vs. lily showdown, we know you’d never say no to some more flower chat! 

The Lily

Native to Europe, Asia, and North America (the Northern Hemisphere), there are around 100 different lily species. They’re quite social blooms, meaning that they grow best when in groups or clusters. And they’re not just lovely to look at. Oil extracted from lilies actually has healing and softening properties. While many other flowers are known for their scents, white lilies are the only lily that lets off an aroma, which boasts mood-boosting powers to boot. Can’t get much better than that, right? Well, almost. Lilies also have an extremely long vase life! Like we said, being runner-up never looked so good!

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