Helianthus annuus, commonly known as the Sunflower, is a brightly colored annual that is well-recognized for its bright yellow petals. The plant's name comes from the Greek helios, meaning 'sun', and anthos ('flower').
Sunflowers can be found all over North America and central Canada, as well as in many parts of Europe and South America.
Potted Sunflowers are a little different to the tall, large-flowered garden varieties you see growing outdoors. They're more compact and they don't release pollen, meaning that the central heart of the flower stays dark in color.
Garden varieties also tend to have just the one flower head, whereas potted varieties can have several buds. This is something to bear in mind when choosing a Sunflower to buy - check that the stem is sturdy and it's not going to become top heavy.
As their name suggests, Sunflowers need sun - and plenty of it! Without enough sunlight, they'll quickly start to look unhappy and can even completely fail to grow or flower. Place yours in a sunny spot in your home, ideally somewhere that they'll receive at least 6 hours of full sun per day. If your home isn't naturally sunny enough, you can supplement this with grow lights.
You should aim to keep your Sunflower's soil moist at all times, but not overly wet. Always ensure that the pot has good drainage holes, and empty out any water that collects in the dish underneath your plant. Check the soil before watering again - the topmost layer of the soil should be dry before adding more water.
Young Sunflowers are heliotropic - this means that they rotate their flower heads to follow the sun's movement across the course of the day. If you watch a timelapse of them, you'll see how they gradually turn from east to west and then reset at nighttime so that they're in the best possible position to catch the morning sun.
Sunflowers actually come in a range of different colors as well as their famous yellow. These include shades of orange, red, brown and burgundy / maroon.
They're often seen as a symbol of happiness, but some cultures also believe Sunflowers represent courage.
Sunflowers have a long history of being used in cooking, and their seeds are often used as a snack food. However, their oil has additionally historically been used for healing purposes and the petals and seeds have been utilized to produce dyes for linens and clothing items.