Gardening

Plant Sunflowers for Ukrainian Freedom

Sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine. You can show your sympathy and support for the struggling Ukranian people by planting sunflowers as encouragement. Photo: Dobra Kobra, depositphotos

By Larry Hodgson

I’m not a very political person, other than that I always vote for the Green Party. (Hey! We have a planet to save and they seem to be the only ones willing to do anything serious it!)

But, like many people, I’m sick over the invasion of Ukraine by Russia or, more specifically, Vladimir Poutin’s army. (We all know many Russian citizens are horrified by this invasion!) It just seems so much like Hitler’s Germany grabbing its neighbors one by one when my parents were young, leading to the Second World War. So, in sympathy and in support of the Ukrainian people, I’ll be planting sunflowers in my garden this summer.

Sunflower taller than others in field of sunflowers.
The sunflower has often been used to symbolize peace. Photo: soleg, depositphotos

The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is the floral emblem of Ukraine (which is also the world’s major supplier of sunflower oil, so expect problems getting your hands on that too this summer!). It also features in the colors of their national flag: sunflower yellow and sky blue. They use their national flower everywhere: in fields and gardens, in flower arrangements and garlands, and cooking. This summer, given the circumstances, they may not be able to grow any.

Across the world, sunflowers are being painted on protest posters and pinned onto clothes to show sympathy for the Ukrainian people. Even the American first lady Jill Biden has been spotted wearing a mask embroidered with a sunflower. One Ukrainian woman is claimed to have shoved a handful of sunflower seeds into the hands of armed Russian soldiers, telling them to carry them in their pockets. That way, when their bodies fall to the ground, sunflowers will grow. Heavy!

Hand sowing sunflower seeds.
Most gardeners sow their sunflowers directly in the garden, where they want them to bloom. Photo: gardenerspath

I think gardeners should climb on board and sow sunflowers this summer. It’s so easy to do: just dig a shallow hole ¼ to ½ in (6 to 12 mm) deep in a sunny spot, drop in a few seeds, cover and water once. Dig, drop, done! The plants will be up and blooming in no time. Plus, sunflower seeds are inexpensive and widely available. And yes, you can grow them on a balcony too: you just need a big pot. So, no excuses!

You can learn more about sunflowers and growing them in the article Year of the Sunflower.

Just make sure your garden features sunflowers this summer. Let’s show Ukrainians the world is behind them!

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

4 comments on “Plant Sunflowers for Ukrainian Freedom

  1. marianwhit

    The interesting thing here is that all sunflowers evolved in the Americas where there are about 70 true species (and untold numbers of hybrids). This is a plant that has been very useful and important to our species. https://www.sunflowernsa.com/all-about/history/#:~:text=The%20wild%20sunflower%20is%20native,to%20become%20a%20cultivated%20crop.

  2. It’s sickening isn’t it. I honestly never thought that in my life time Russia would threaten nuclear war against the west whilst he launches the first invasion in Europe since WW2. I honestly think that he has started to loose his mind. I’m so sorry for all the Ukrainians. I just wish there was more we can do and I think that is going to have to include halting sales of things like tea, coffee, alcohol, tea and non essential foods and drink to Russia. It’s horrible to have to target Russian citizens but I’d be asking for a change in leadership meant I couldn’t get my morning cuppa and pay my mortgage!

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