Hello, my name is Helianthus.

With summer coming to a close and my favorite season of the year just around the corner, I thought that it would be appropriate to introduce you to a favorite flower of mine that is popular in fall.  So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Helianthus annuus.

I’m sure that most of you are familiar with this plant, but you probably know it by its common name, sunflower.  While it’s apparent where the common name comes from, do you know what its Latin name (Helianthus annuus) means?  The first part of its name is derived from Greek helios, which means “sun” and anthos, which means “flower”.  The second part of its name translates to “year”, which is fitting because the plant grows to maturity and sets seed in one year.  And not only does the flower look like the sun, but it actually follows it throughout the day.  It will face east in the morning and west in the evening!

Sunflowers come in most of the colors that are associated with fall which makes them very easily worked into an autumn-themed wedding, complete with sunflower wedding invitations.  Their colors include yellow, orange, maroon and red.  Some are even two-toned.  Sunflowers aren’t particularly fragrant but their pollen can cause a reaction for some people, as reported by the North Carolina Extension Service.  According to the National Ag Safety Database, sunflowers fall under the “slightly toxic” category because, if eaten in large amounts, the seeds can be toxic.

An easy way to save money when planning your wedding is to use flowers that are in season.  Sunflowers can be easily obtained and are reasonably priced during summer and fall.  If you have a green-thumbed family member or friend, maybe he or she will even be willing to grow the sunflowers for you as a wedding gift!

When it comes to using sunflowers in centerpieces, vases, or bouquets, they are great performers.  If put directly into water right after they are cut (or brought home from the florist), most varieties won’t wilt and hold up very well as a cut flower.  To make them last longer, though, use room-temperature water that has a flower preservative dissolved in it and keep the flowers in a cool place that is out of the sun.  If using sunflowers in a bouquet, be sure to wrap ribbon all the way up to their heads, since the heads are fairly heavy and can droop under their own weight.

While the sunflower itself has no special symbolic meaning, they are bright and cheerful and tend to lift spirits and make people happy.  How do you tie sunflowers into your wedding theme?  How about a sunflower-encircled cake, or maybe you could give your guests small packages of sunflower seeds as a favor or you could even float some sunflower petals in bowls of water with floating candles.

So when making your plans, don’t overlook the humble sunflower as a cheery addition to your big day.

Time to give credit where credit is due.  These are the sources I used:

www.thefreedictionary.comwww.thenakedscientists.comNational Ag Safety DatabaseNorth Carolina Extension Service

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