Say no to faded blooms and embrace everlasting color. Wait until you discover the magic of strawflowers with this addictive guide. Learn how to start strawflower from seed, grow, care for and DIY stunning arrangements all season long with these simple tips.
Confession time: For years, my garden used to be a respectable spread of petunias, impatiens, and pansies. Sure, they were pretty, but let’s be honest, a little predictable.
Then, I got into my cut flower gardening obsession, tested out some different blooms to grow, and met strawflowers. They burst with every color imaginable, invaded my seed packets, and bloomed their way into my heart (and every square inch of my sunny borders).
They are easy-care, low-maintenance and are so gorgeous to boot. And now, I’m a full-blown strawflower addict, and I’m here to share my obsession with you. Wait until you see how easy these pretty these blooms are to grow!
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Strawflowers a beloved garden favorite, prized for its dazzling array of colors, drought tolerance, and long-lasting blooms. I mean, these flowers can even withstand a light frost so they are true workhorses in the flower garden.
Native to Australia, the strawflower (Xerochrysum bracteatum), also known as the everlasting or golden everlasting, is a member of the Asteraceae family. With a hardiness zone of 8-11, it grows about 2-3 ft. tall by 6-18 in. wide depending on the variety.
The strawflower performs best in full to partial sun in well-drained soil that is neutral or acidic. In most growing zones, strawflowers are not perennials and are grown as flowering annuals, blooming from about June through October, or whenever the first frost is.
Why I Love to Grow Strawflower
Here’s what make growing strawflowers so special to me.
- Colorful blooms: From fiery oranges and reds to soft pinks and purples, strawflowers come in a spectrum of hues that can rival a sunset.
- Can handle the summer heat: These tough little flowers thrive in hot, dry conditions, making them ideal for low-maintenance gardens and sunny climates. They’re not afraid of a little heat, so you can rest assured they’ll keep blooming beautifully even through the hottest summer days.
- Everlasting beauty: Unlike many other flowers, strawflowers retain their vibrant colors and papery texture even after they’ve been picked. This makes them perfect for drying and crafting into stunning everlasting arrangements, wreaths, and other decorative pieces.
- More than just a pretty face: Strawflowers are also beneficial pollinators, attracting bees, butterflies, and other helpful insects to your garden. They can also help to deter pests and add valuable texture and height to your flower beds.
- Great Cut Flowers: Strawflowers are great to grow in the cut flower garden because they add lots of texture and dimension with lasting color in both garden beds and flower arrangements.
- Easy to grow: Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a complete beginner, strawflowers are a joy to grow. They thrive in well-drained soil and full sun, and require minimal care.
- Resilient in Cooler Temperatures: Strawflowers can handle a light frost and won’t wrap it up for the season until a good killing frost zaps it. This makes is a no brainer to grow in my zone 6b garden.
How to Grow Strawflowers
Growing strawflowers is easier than their vibrant blooms might suggest. If you’ve never grown a it before, here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started.
How to Sow Strawflower Seeds
I’ve not found a strawflower plant at my local garden nurseries, so I start them from seed. You can start strawflower seed indoors before your last frost date or directly sow them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
And they couldn’t be easier to start from seed! Here’s how to do it.
- Timing: Choose your method. In warm climates (zone 7+), sow seeds directly outdoors when soil temp reaches 65-70°F (18-21°C). Cooler climates (zone 6 and below), start seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before last frost. Check your seed packet for indoor sowing instructions.
- Location: Plant in full sun with well-drained soil. Amend heavy soils with compost or sandy grit for drainage.
- Seeds: Sow seeds by sprinkling the tiny seeds on damp soil surface, press gently (they need light to germinate). Lightly cover with vermiculite.
- Transplanting (if starting indoors): Harden off seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions for about two weeks before planting outdoors.
- Strawflower Spacing: Space seedlings 12 inches apart.
As an aside, strawflower seeds are really easy to find. Shop your local nursery or look for high quality growers online like Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
How to Care for Strawflower
- Watering: Water deeply when soil feels dry about an inch down. Strawflowers are drought-tolerant once established, but consistent watering promotes blooming.
- Fertilizing: Light feeding with a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks is beneficial.
- Deadheading: Regularly remove spent blooms to encourage more flowering. You can cut blooms for drying at any stage of openness.
- Pinch back young plants to encourage bushier growth.
- Stake taller varieties for support so they don’t topple over. I love to use these grow-through support hoops.
- Attract pollinators by planting with herbs like dill or fennel.
- For drying, hang stems upside down in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area for 2-3 weeks.
Common Pest and Disease Problems
Though known for their resilience, the easy-going strawflower can get hit with certain garden pest and disease problems. So keep a watchful eye for these potential troublemakers to maintain healthy, vibrant blooms throughout the season. Here’s what you need to know!
- Thrips: These microscopic scoundrels feast on sap, leaving behind distorted buds, streaked flowers, and shimmering silver trails on the leaves.
- Aphids: These soft-bodied bandits cluster on stems and leaves, sucking out life-giving sap and leaving behind a sticky trail of honeydew.
- Slugs and snails: These slimy pests munch their way through leaves and flowers, leaving ragged holes and glistening slime trails in their wake.
- Fungal diseases: Botrytis blight, powdery mildew, and fungal leaf spots can all plague strawflowers, causing wilting, discolored leaves, and deformed flowers.
- Aster yellows: This viral menace causes stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and the unfortunate transformation of flowers into green imposters. Spread by leafhoppers, this one unfortunately has no cure so remove them immediately from your garden when found.
Prevention and Control Tips
- Regularly remove and dispose of diseased plant material and unwanted weeds to deny pests and diseases a comfortable haven.
- Avoid overcrowding your straw flowers and ensure proper spacing to keep fungal diseases at bay.
- Water directly at the base of the plant to avoid dampening the leaves, a prime invitation for fungal growth.
- Ladybugs, lacewings, and hoverflies act as nature’s pest patrol, happily munching on aphids and other unwelcome guests.
- Insecticidal soap or neem oil are great organic alternatives to carcinogenic pesticides. Always read labels carefully and make sure it’s okay to use on strawflowers before use.
- Regularly monitor your strawflowers for any signs of trouble. Walk your gardens every day because early detection and swift action can prevent the spread of both pests and diseases.
I’ve been growing strawflowers for a few years in my own gardens and have found them to be fuss-free without issue if you treat them right.
To learn more see: The Univeristy of California IPM
Why Strawflower Makes a Great Cut Flower
Forget fading blooms, strawflowers are the stars of long-lasting floral arrangements. They are one of my favorite cut flowers to grow because they are easy going flowers that last a long time in both the gardens and a bouquet. Here’s why strawflowers make great cut flowers.
- The Bloom that Keeps on Going: Straw flowers hold their intense hues and textural magic for weeks, even months.
- A Kaleidoscope of Colors: There are lots of beautiful hues to grow that let you create monochromatic masterpieces or vibrant explosions of color. Mix and match to your heart’s content, or let a single shade tell its story.
- Adds Texture: Strawflowers aren’t just about color; their crinkled papery petals add a unique touch to any arrangement and your flower garden.
- Low-Maintenance Plant: Ditch the constant water changes and wilting worries. Strawflowers are incredibly easy-going, needing only a fresh cut and a clean vase to stay radiant for weeks.
- Fresh or Dried, They Shine: These versatile beauties don’t discriminate. Enjoy their radiant sunshine fresh-cut in your vase, or embrace their everlasting charm dried. They hold their shape beautifully, whether adding summery vibes indoors or gracing winter arrangements with pops of color.
- Budget-Friendly: Instead of expensive storebought bouquets, growing your own strawflowers is easy and affordable. They are known to self-seed readily and thrive in warm sun, so you can have a constant supply of vibrant blooms for pennies.
- Endless Creative Possibilities: The fun doesn’t stop at the vase. Dried straw flowers lend their beauty to wreaths, garlands, potpourri, and even craft projects. There are endless ways to be creative with the blooms.
- Easy to Grow and Harvest: Strawflowers are simple to grow and harvest for even the brownest of thumbs. They thrive in well-drained soil and full sun, and their papery blooms are easy to spot and cut.
My Favorite Strawflower Varieties
- King Size Red
- Bright Rose
- Silvery Rose
- Purple Red
- Vintage White
- King Size Salmon
- Apricot Peach Mix
- Monostrum Tall Mix
Beyond the Bloom: Creative Ways to Use Strawflowers
Strawflowers, with their vibrant hues and papery texture, aren’t just garden dwellers. They can be used outside flower beds too. Wait until you see these unexpected ways to utilize these everlasting charmers.
- Wreaths and Garlands: Weave dried strawflowers into rustic wreaths for your door or create vibrant garlands to drape over mantels or stair railings. Their diverse colors and textures add a unique touch to any space.
- Dried Flower Arrangements: Craft everlasting arrangements for your coffee table or bookshelf. Combine strawflowers with other dried elements like pampas grass and statice for a natural, boho vibe.
- Wall Art: Frame a single strawflower bloom or create a stunning collage using different varieties and colors. This unique wall art adds a pop of color and texture to any room.
- Cards and Gift Wrapping: Embellish greeting cards or gift wrapping with single blooms or pressed petals. This personal touch adds a rustic charm to any gift.
- Potpourri and Sachets: Fill your home with sweet, floral scents by incorporating dried strawflowers into potpourri mixes or scented sachets. They’ll add a burst of color and fragrance to drawers and closets.
- Wedding Decor: Use strawflowers in bouquets, centerpieces, or even cake decorations for a rustic or boho wedding theme. Their vibrant colors and long-lasting nature make them ideal for wedding décor.
- Party Favors: Create small dried flower arrangements or potpourri pouches as unique and memorable party favors for guests.
- Table Settings: Add a touch of elegance to your dinner table by incorporating strawflowers into place settings. Place single blooms on plates or weave them into napkins for a natural touch.
- Dyeing: Experiment with natural dyes and turn strawflowers into vibrant canvases for your creativity. Create unique and unexpected color combinations on their papery petals.
- Pressed Flower Art: Press and arrange dried strawflowers to create botanical portraits or whimsical landscapes. This is a fun and creative way to preserve their beauty.
- Nature Play: Let your inner child loose and create miniature fairy gardens or whimsical terrariums using dried strawflowers. They add a touch of magic to any tiny green world.
More About Growing Strawflower
Have you ever grown strawflowers before? if so, what’s your favorite variety? I would love to know more in the comments below.
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- I like to use a good-quality, potting soil, garden soil, compost, and perlite when planting. While I make my own compost, you can easily buy it ready-made for use.
- I have used this deer repellent with great success. But now, I’m all about this deer repellent that is systemic instead of topical. This means the plant takes it in as opposed to it just smelling bad. If you want to minimize the work and not use repellents, choose plants that are deer-resistant from this list.
- Hands down this is my favorite hand-weeding tool. You can use it to get underneath roots and loosen soil, and it cuts down on the weeding time because you work much faster.
- But I also love this long, stand-up weeding tool to really get around roses from afar.
- I use this organic fertilizer for roses because the blooms are more prolific and it’s organic.
- And I use this organic fertilizer for my vegetables and herbs in the potager garden.
- You’ll need a sharp set of pruners when working with plants and flowers. I buy a few so I can stash them around.
- I use these garden snips to deadhead and cut flowers from my gardens.
- Where pest and disease problems are concerned, if I need to, I generally use this insecticidal soap or neem oil to help control infestations depending on the issue. When using, only apply when pollinators are less active.
- This is my go-to bait for slug and snail problems with my hostas and dahlias.
- This is my favorite set-and-forget slow-release fertilizer for houseplants, annuals, and container gardens.
- Whenever I stake my peonies or other plants, I generally use these grow-through garden supports because they work really well and keep the blooms upright.
- I use this collapsible bin ALL THE TIME. It is invaluable when working in the beds as it’s light to carry around and folds flat for easy storage.
- Drip irrigation set on a timer is your friend! I love these for my planters, window boxes, and hanging baskets.
- And this four way hose bib allows you to split one spicket into four!
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I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. With a deep passion for gardening, I enjoy helping others find their inner green thumb with all things plants and flowers, as well as finding ways to bring the outdoors inside their homes.
Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.