Strawflowers: Plant Profile, How To Grow and Care For Xerochrysum bracteatum

Strawflowers offer the promise of continued color and fresh floral beauty well into the months of the year when nothing is in bloom.

Come autumn, gardeners everywhere are bidding a sorrowful so long to their lush and flourishing flower gardens. But October does not have to mean the onslaught and months of dreariness. Many growers find that a few strategically placed strawflower bushes will produce flowers that last long after the start of winter.

Profile of the Strawflower Plant

  • Common Names: Strawflower, everlasting, immortelle.
  • Botanical Gens: Bracteantha bracteata
  • Blooms: Mid-Summer to fall.
  • Flower Colors: Red, pink, orange, yellow and white.
  • Dimensions: 1-5 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide.
  • Light: Full sun.
  • Soil: Moist, but well drained. Once established, plant can take drought conditions.
  • Propagating: Start seeds indoors about 6 weeks prior to the winter’s last frost. Or seeds can be sown directly into the ground once the cold has passed. Stake taller plants.

Once a gardener has become familiar with the hearty strawflower, growing them is easy.

The Appeal of the Strawflower

The resilient strawflower is so hearty it will actually make it through the beginning of winter’s frosts, but the real appeal is that once a bloom fully forms on the plant, it lasts a full 2 or 3 weeks.

This annual blooms from mid summertime on through the fall and in bright beautiful colors. The pom pom shaped flower is chocked full of petals in a variety of shades. The strawflower holds an additional appeal in that it is very attractive to butterflies.

Wisconsin grower, Vicki Melies of Fon du Lac says, “I discovered strawflowers at the local nursery and quickly fell in love with them. I like the bright colors and the fact that the blossoms can remain on the plant for weeks without making it look untidy.”

Strawflower’s Uncommon Characteristics

The origins of the strawflower have been genetically traced to Australia, where the daisy relative was first discovered.

Surprisingly, this flower is a short lived perennial in climates that are always hot and warm. But in most American regions, it grows as a fascinating and prolific annual. Further adding to he excitement generated among gardeners is that the seeds can be simply collected and given away, traded or planted the following year.

Some gardeners claim that letting the strawflower drop its own seeds is fun, and also surprising, as the colors will most likely be a variant and even the flower itself may be slightly different.

How to Grow Strawflowers

Variety is the name of the game with strawflowers and not only are many colors available, there are all different shapes and sizes to choose from as well.

Dwarf types, like the Bright Bikinis, are a favorite and they grow to about a foot tall with many small, double flower heads. The Dargan Hill Monarch, another favorite, is not a dwarf and grows to 3 feet and has a larger, singular daisy type flower.

Rather than adding strawflowers to your garden or simply planting them solo in the yard, look for a sunny spot. Most growers start from store bought, packaged seeds, and to give them a certain start planting trays inside is a good recommendation.

While the plants are still small, keep the soil moist. Once they are established sit back, relax and prepare to be amazed. These plants are a joy and never disappoint with their rapid growth and multitude of blooms.

Strawflower’s Duality

It is true that strawflowers last an exceedingly long time on the plant, but they have become most famous for how long they’ll maintain their beauty once cut.

For the best results gather the flowers, with a length of stem, around 2-3 days after they’ve bloomed. (Don’t worry, more blooms will appear in their place.) And, closed blooms will continue opening after they are cut, so watching them open inside is also an option.

Many garden enthusiasts find that these flowers practically “dry” themselves. But for the best results, before the blooms begin to fade, take a bouquet and hang it upside down in an airy space. In about two weeks it is incredible to witness exactly how much of their original color they have maintained.

Strawflowers have most recently become extremely popular among growers and it’s no wonder with their unsuspecting diversity. Whatever the reason, gardeners are finding that the strawflower is a great addition to their prized garden designs.

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