how to arrange sunflowers (because they can be divas)

We are in full sunflower season here.  And while sunflowers are certainly show-stoppers and crowd-pleasers (think sunflower festivals), sometimes it’s hard to handle them.  The sunflower is easy to grow from seed and glorious in a field or tucked in the back of a garden.  But, as a cut flower she can look stunning one minute and then quite dismal the next, her large head bent over like she has overstayed her time at the party.  Depending on the variety (and there are many), stems can be thick and curved in odd ways, and heads can be heavy and large and, well, awkward.  As my sister says of the sunflower:  She wants to do what she wants to do.

So, what does one do with the sunflower?  Here are some tips that we’ve learned over the years that might help if you’d like to have some around the house.

  1. Give into her.  Sometimes it’s best to just give her center stage and all the attention.  Put a few in a tall vase and leave the ladies alone.  Tall bottles work well too, especially if you have some sunflowers with weak necks.  Cluster the bottles or trail them down a tabletop.
  2. When mixing with other flowers, use the sunflower sparingly and combine with other seasonal flowers for a natural looking arrangement.  Zinnias, cosmos, rudbeckia, and dahlias work well.  As does fennel and tall grasses.
  3. Try cutting the stems short and massing together different colors and kinds for a chic, pulled-together look.
Farmer’s market flowers in a Frances Palmer vase
Floret Farm

Once a woman at a garden club told me never to mix sunflowers with roses, but I did.  And Martha Stewart does it beautifully here.  Still, it is a bold bride who carries a sunflower bouquet, I think. 

Martha Stewart
My house

Some people steer clear of sunflowers altogether (there are haters). But honestly it is hard to ignore sunflowers, so why not embrace them this year and see what happens. 


Holly and Brooke

PS–we are at the Clarksville Sunflower Festival this weekend making bouquets and taking reservations for our upcoming workshops. Hope you”ll join us!

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