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 ever since).

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 blooms are to grow!

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A vibrant garden with various strawflowers in bloom. Prominent in the foreground is a striking dark red flower with several buds, surrounded by lush green foliage. In the background, additional flowers in shades of pink and orange are visible.

About Growing Strawflower

Strawflowers is a beloved garden favorite, prized for its incredible 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 any 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 1-3 feet. tall by 1-2 feet 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.

  • Genus: Xerochrysum
  • Common Name: Strawflower
  • Plant Type: Annual/Perennial
  • Hardiness Zone: 8-11 (as perennial)
  • Light: Full sun
  • Soil Requirements: Well-drained, sandy
  • Height: 1-3 feet
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • Flower Color: White, yellow, orange, pink, red
  • Foliage Color: Green
  • Bloom Time: Summer to frost

Why I Am Obsessed With Growing Strawflowers

Here’s what make growing strawflowers so special to me.

  • Bright 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.
  • Pollinator Friendly: 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 Cutting 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.
picture of beautiful strawflower close up
Strawflower

How to Plant Strawflowers

Planting 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! .

Strawflower seeds are really easy to find. Shop your local nursery or look for high-quality growers online like Johnny’s Selected Seeds. The better quality seed you buy the higher the germination rate will be.

Direct Sowing Outdoors

In warm climates (zone 7+), sow seeds directly outdoors when soil temp reaches 65-70°F (18-21°C). In cooler climates (zone 6 and below), start seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before last frost. Check your seed packet for specific indoor sowing instructions because they can vary.

Sow seeds by sprinkling the tiny seeds on a damp soil surface, press gently (they need light to germinate). Lightly cover with vermiculite.

Direct Sowing Indoors

If sowing indoors, start seeds in cell trays or 3″ pots filled with moist seed starting soil. Cover them with a clear dome and place them on heat mats under grow lights.

I’ve found strawflower seeds to germinate quickly so you should see some sprouts within a few days. When they germinate, remove the cover and heat mats and set the lights about 4″ above seedlings.

Harden off seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions for about two weeks before planting outdoors. 

Then plant in full sun with well-drained soil. Space seedlings 9-12 inches apart depending on the variety. Amend heavy soils with compost or sandy grit for drainage.

How to Care for Strawflower

  • Watering: Water deeply when the soil feels dry about an inch down. Strawflowers are drought-tolerant once established, but consistent watering promotes more blooming.
  • Fertilizing: Light feeding with a balanced fertilizer. I like to use a slow-release fertilizer to help feed them throughout the growing season.
  • Pinching: Pinch back young plants to encourage bushier growth after the first few set of true leaves. This will encourage more blooms.
  • Deadheading: Regularly remove spent blooms to encourage more flowering. You can cut blooms for drying at any stage of openness.
  • Staking: Stake taller varieties for support so they don’t topple over. I love to use these grow-through support hoops.

Pro Tips

  • 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.
strawflowers in october
Strawflowers in Fall

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.

Thrips, aphids, slugs, and snails can be problematic at times. For aphids, a strong blast from a hose can knock them off. In severe cases of thrips and aphids, you can try using insecticidal soap but only use when pollinators are not active. To keep slug and snail damage at bay, an organic slug bait works pretty well.

Strawflowers can sometimes experience fungal diseases like botrytis blight, powdery mildew, and fungal leaf spots can all plague strawflowers, causing wilting, discolored leaves, and deformed flowers. With blight, there’s not much you can do except pull the plant and toss it in the trash. But in severe cases of powdery mildew, you can try using neem oil when pollinators are less active.

Aster yellows is a 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 read this article from The Univeristy of California IPM

Strawflower with peach and pink flowers in vibrant cut flower garde

Growing Strawflowers in Pots

Growing strawflowers in pots is a great way to add vibrant color and unique texture to patios, balconies, and other small spaces. Choose a pot that is at least 12 inches in diameter, ensuring it has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.

Use a well-draining potting mix, preferably one that is sandy or loamy, and enhance drainage by adding perlite or coarse sand. Transplant or plant strawflower seeds or transplants about 9 inches apart to allow for adequate air circulation.

Water the plants thoroughly when the top inch of soil feels dry, being careful not to overwater since strawflowers are somewhat drought-tolerant. Place the pot in a full location where it will receive full sun for at least 6-8 hours a day. Feed strawflowers with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season to provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and vibrant blooms.

Regularly deadhead spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming and maintain the plant’s appearance. In cooler climates, strawflowers grown as annuals will die back after the first frost.

strawflowers in the cut flower garden

Why Strawflower Makes a Great Cut Flower

With strawflowers, there is no such thing as faded blooms as they are the stars of long-lasting flower arrangements. They are one of my favorite cutting flowers to grow because they are easy going blooms that last a long time in both the gardens and a bouquet.

Straw flowers hold their intense hues and textural magic for weeks, even months. And 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.

But strawflowers aren’t just about color; their crinkled papery petals add a unique touch to any arrangement and your flower garden.

This low-maintenance plant is incredibly easy-going, needing only a fresh cut and a clean vase to stay radiant for weeks. It’s really amazing how long they last!

But the best part? These versatile beauties don’t discriminate. Enjoy their radiant sunshine fresh-cut in your vase, or embrace their everlasting charm dried. Because they hold their shape beautifully, whether adding summery vibes indoors or gracing winter arrangements with pops of color.

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.

But the fun doesn’t stop at the vase. Dried straw flowers lend their beauty to wreaths, garlands, potpourri, and even craft projects. There are so many ways to be creative with their blooms.

And finally, 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 super easy to spot and cut.

stacy ling cutting strawflowers for a peach tablescape idea in the cut flower garden
Stacy Ling cutting strawflowers in the cut flower garden

How to Harvest Strawflowers

To harvest strawflowers, start in the morning after the dew has dried but before the heat of the day sets in, ensuring the flowers are at their freshest. The ideal time to harvest is when the flowers are partially open, as they will continue to open after being cut.

Use clean, sharp scissors or garden shears to make precise cuts without damaging the plants. Identify blooms that are just starting to open and cut the stems about 4-6 inches below the flower head, leaving enough stems for arranging or drying. Place the cut flowers in a bucket of water to keep them hydrated until you are ready to use or dry them.

Arranging Strawflowers in a Vase

For fresh use, strip the lower leaves from the stems and place the flowers in a vase with water. Give them a fresh cut and water every few days to keep the flowers going. And trust me when I tell you, they can last a LONG time! One of the reasons why I love them!

How to Dry Strawflowers

If you plan to dry the strawflowers, strip the lower leaves, bundle 8-10 stems together, and secure them with a rubber band or string. Hang the bundles upside down in a dry, dark, and well-ventilated area to preserve their color and shape. Allow the flowers to dry for about 2-3 weeks, until the stems are stiff and the flowers feel papery.

Once dried, store the strawflowers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, using airtight containers to prevent dust and moisture from affecting them. By following these steps, you can successfully harvest and preserve the vibrant beauty of strawflowers for fresh arrangements or long-lasting dried displays.

fresh cut flowers from the cutting garden with zinnias, dahlias, snapdragons in vases and mason jars with peaches, taper candles, votives and small gold lanterns with peach table decor

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.
close up of strawflowers

My Favorite Strawflower Varieties

  • King Size Red
  • Bright Rose
  • Silvery Rose
  • Purple Red
  • Vintage White
  • King Size Salmon
  • Apricot Peach Mix
  • Monostrum Tall Mix

FAQs on Growing Strawflowers

What are the ideal growing conditions for strawflowers?

Strawflowers thrive in full sun and prefer well-drained, sandy soil. They are moderately drought-tolerant and do best in environments where they can receive plenty of sunlight throughout the day. These plants can be grown as annuals in most regions but may act as short-lived perennials in hardiness zones 8-11​ (UGA Cooperative Extension)​​ (NC Plant Toolbox)​.

How do I start strawflower seeds?

Strawflower seeds can be started indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost. Sow the seeds in a seed-starting mix and provide them with consistent moisture and light. Once the seedlings have developed a few sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted outdoors after the danger of frost has passed​

When and how should I harvest strawflowers?

Strawflowers should be harvested when the outermost layer of bracts has opened, but while the center is still tightly closed. This ensures that the flowers will continue to open and look their best as they dry. After cutting, remove the lower leaves and hang the flowers upside down in a warm, dry, and well-ventilated area to dry for about 2-3 weeks​

For more detailed information, you can visit the NC State Extension, Iowa State University Extension, UGA Cooperative Extension​.

A lush garden with a water fountain at its center, surrounded by vibrant purple-red strawflowers and green foliage. A green fence and trees are visible in the background. The scene is sunny and vivid, showcasing the beauty of the garden.

Final Thoughts About Growing Strawflower

Have you ever grown strawflowers before? if so, what’s your favorite variety?

Growing strawflowers has become an obsession for me, and it’s easy to see why. These vibrant, resilient flowers thrive in full sun and well-drained, sandy soil, making them an easy addition to any garden.

Their ability to flourish in a variety of conditions and their long-lasting blooms provide continuous color from summer to frost.

Strawflowers are not only stunning in the garden but also excellent for drying, allowing their beauty to be preserved throughout the year.

Harvesting them at the right time ensures they maintain their bright colors and unique textures, perfect for crafting and indoor arrangements. Their versatility and low maintenance make strawflowers a gardener’s delight and a mainstay in my cut flower garden.

Will you try growing strawflowers if you aren’t already? If you have any questions, suggestions or comments please share them in the comment section below. And share this post with anyone you think would find these gardening tips helpful.

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling
A vibrant flowerbed showcasing an array of spherical strawflowers with petals in deep maroon and soft peach, set against a backdrop of lush greenery and a green fence.
Strawflowers

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4 Comments

  1. Strawflowers are the sleeper hit of the garden! I don’t think many people know just how cool they are!