To Ukrainians, the sunflower has always had a special place in their heart as the national flower of Ukraine. However, since the Russian invasion in February, people around the world have taken up the sunflower as a symbol of support for Ukraine.
As well as growing sunflowers, many businesses have been selling bouquets and seeds to raise funds for those affected by the conflict. Florists across the UK in locations such as Bristol and Leeds have raised £1000s through the sale of sunflowers. The Moorland Flower co (opens in new tab). in Devon is also one of many companies selling sunflower seeds to support the Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.
'In Ukraine, sunflowers signify peace,' says Toby Buckland, gardener, gardening expert, TV presenter (formerly Gardeners' World) and author in Amateur Gardening. 'And while that may be a distant dream, planting sunflowers is a show of solidarity and a prayer of thanks for the liberty, equality, and fraternity that we enjoy.'
Why is the sunflower the national flower of Ukraine?
The connection between the sunflower and Ukrainian resistance came to the world's attention when a video of a Ukrainian woman telling armed Russian soldiers on Ukrainian soil to 'Take these seeds so sunflowers grow here when you die,' reported by BBC News went viral. However, sunflowers have always been important to Ukrainians.
Not only does the blue and yellow flag mimic the vibrant color of sunflowers against a clear sky, but sunflowers make up a huge chunk of the Ukrainian economy. The country is one of the world's major suppliers of sunflower oil.
Sunflowers have been grown in Ukraine since the 1700s. Sunflower oil became an important aspect of daily life in the country because the Church didn't ban it during Lent.
Since then it has become a staple in Ukrainian households and became the Ukrainian national flower. Many families will grow the colorful flowers in their gardens, collecting seeds from flowers to eat as snacks. Women will also often weave sunflowers into their clothes on special occasions.
The sunflower has been used as a symbol of peace in Ukraine once before. In June 1966, US, Russian and Ukrainian defense ministers planted sunflowers at Ukraine's Pervomaysk missile base in a ceremony to mark Ukraine giving up nuclear weapons.
As well as showing your support by growing sunflowers there are lots of charities taking donations to help Ukrainians. See below for recommended organizations accepting donations.
- The British Red Cross (opens in new tab)
- UNICEF (opens in new tab)
- UNHCR refugee agency (opens in new tab)
- Save The Children (opens in new tab)
- With Ukraine (opens in new tab)
Never was there a better reason to embrace the sunflower, a symbol of resistance, peace and unity.
Rebecca has worked as a homes and interiors journalist for over four years, and is currently the Deputy Editor on Ideal Home online. Previously, she was the News Editor across the Future homes and gardens brands, including Gardeningetc.com. She lives in a rented flat in South London where she makes the most of window boxes to create small container gardens. Inside she has a jungle of houseplants in nearly every room which she does her best to keep up with regular watering and repotting.
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