Strawflower

Strawflower: Protecting Plant from common Pests and Diseases

A Step-By-Step Guide to Growing and Caring for Strawflower Blooms in Your Garden.

Learn how to grow the everlasting strawflower for vibrant vibes in your garden. This straw-like Aster family member will give you heartwarming blossoms throughout spring, summer, and fall. Read on for top tips on how to grow and care for Strawflowers.

Common Names: Everlasting flower, Golden Everlasting
Genus Name: Xerochrysum bracteatum
Plant Type: Annual, Perennial
Family: Asteraceae family
Indigenous Area: Australia
Hardiness Zones: 8 to 10
Spread: 6 -18 inches
Height: 6 inches
Bloom Colors: white, red, pink, orange, yellow
Blooming Period: June to the end of frost
Light: Full sunlight
Watering: Dry to medium water
Maintenance: Low maintenance
Propagation: Seed, Stem Cutting.
Foliage Color: Blue-Green, Gray-Silver.

Strawflower Grower’s Guide- Brighten your garden with heartwarming colors

What are strawflowers or Xerochrysum bracteatum?

Strawflowers certainly sounds boring. Xerochrysum bracteatum is even worse! Well, all I can say is that it is the most unromantic name given to a flower with everlasting beauty and vibrant earthy colors. Strawflowers, commonly known as the golden everlasting, has two qualities that gardeners love. First, they add vivid colors to the landscape and later on to your craft projects. Secondly, the flowers are long-lasting. 

Follow our growing guide below to learn how to grow this Australian native with a long blooming period. 

History and Cultivation

The flower will remind you of a daisy because it forms rows of petals around the central focal point. The resemblance ends there. Unlike the daisy, the petals of this flower are stiff and straw-like to the touch. It almost seems to have been sprayed with varnish making it feel like stiff paper. These petals are called bracts and are, in fact, modified leaves. The stems are stiff and sturdy and are covered in fine hairs, the same as the narrow green leaves. The stems are 10 to 12 inches in height. 

Golden everlasting classification has changed over time from genus Bracteantha to genus Xerochrysum. This member of the Asteraceae family comes from Australia. Interestingly, this plant is identified botanically as Bracteantha bracteata or Helichrysum bracteatum. It is actually classified as a herb due to its fruity and flowery odor. 

Strawflowers growing wildly

It has grown globally in gardens for its pretty blossoms and long-lasting flower clusters. This plant has a rich history of being grown and are easy to grow and care for. They arrived in Europe during the 18th century and quickly gained favor among gardeners for their vibrant blossoms and capacity to remain robust for months without wilting or discoloring. By the 19th century, they had spread over North America, where they continue to be admired today for their continuous blooms from summer onwards.

Propagation

Strawflower propagation is possible through division, cuttings, and seeds. It is a breeze to grow these plants if the conditions are available,  by using any one of these methods. 

Division: The established clumps of this plant can be divided in spring or autumn. Carefully dig around the plant with a spade, then lift and divide it into smaller clumps using your hands or a sharp knife. Replant them at the same depth as initially planted and water them well.

Cuttings:

  1. Take semi-ripe cuttings in summer and root them in moist potting soil or sand.
  2. Place the cuttings in a warm, bright location out of direct sunlight to prevent wilting.
  3. Keep the soil barely moist until roots develop, which usually takes several weeks.

Once rooted, transplant into individual pots filled with potting mix and keep watered but not overly wet. 

Strawflowers yellow beauty

Seeds: Their seeds can be sown outdoors in spring once temperatures are consistently above 15°C (60°F). You can sow the seeds and cover them with soil to a depth of about 2 cm (1 inch) apart, firm down the seeds lightly, water them well and keep them evenly moist until they germinate. germination will occur after a few weeks.

When large enough to handle, transplant the seedlings into small pots or cell packs filled with good quality potting mix and harden them off gradually before planting out after all danger from frost has passed. You can also start seeds indoors weeks before the last frost and transfer them to your garden in spring after the last frost date. 

How to raise and maintain beautiful strawflowers 

These plants are grown annually and will give you beautiful “everlasting” blooms throughout the growing season. This quick-growing guide will help you to learn how to care for strawflowers. 

• Where to plant – Find a place in your garden with ample sunlight and well-draining soil. The soil can be enriched with compost or manure before planting. Alternatively, these can be grown in containers or window boxes. 

Ensure moist soil – This plant likes to be watered regularly, about once weekly. The soil ideally should be moist but not soggy. The plant is drought-tolerant and hardy. 

Aim for healthy plants – From the time the seeds germinate, ensure you provide the plant with good nurturing soil. You can supplement the soil with nutrients every few weeks.

Keep it clean and tidy – This is good for the plants. This will minimize threats from pests and diseases. Be careful not to cut off any new buds that may be forming on the stems, as these are next season’s flowers. 

Insulate in cold climates – An essential part of strawflower care is covering it with a thick layer of mulch in winter to protect them from frost damage and provide insulation against extreme temperatures. 

Pruning and Maintenance 

Strawflowers are easy to maintain and prune. Deadheading flowers regularly is essential. This will encourage new blooms and will help keep the flower looking neat. If the plant becomes too large, you can trim back some of the stems to promote bushier growth. You can also pinch off any spent blooms at the branch’s base or clip them off with scissors. To keep your plant healthy and vigorous, it’s important to fertilize regularly throughout its growing season.

Strawflowers in a field

Strawflower varieties: add colorful cultivars to brighten your garden 

This aster family member comes in wide varieties with colorful names to match. Fantasia Rose, Lemon Queen, Burgundy Red, Tangerine, Goldilocks, Saffron Orange, Sunny Bonnie White, Paprika Red Bicolor, Strawberry Blonde, and Hot Pink Mix are a few of these. The below varieties are more popular among gardeners: 

• Bright Bikini: These are ideal to be grown in containers or at the front of borders. The plants are about 12 inches tall when fully grown. 

• Monstrosum: This variety is popular with crafters because of the fully double flowers that come in red, white, pink, and orange. 

• Sundaze: These come in beautiful warm orange and yellow hues. This award-winning variety can brighten any dull space, be it your garden, floral décor, or craft project. 

• Tom Thumb: This variety differs from the standard height of 40 inches, topping at 15 inches. It is ideal for container gardens or window boxes. 

Optimal conditions to grow golden everlasting.

Light and shade

Strawflowers are tolerant of both full sun and partial shade. They prefer at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day to produce the best blooms, but they can also tolerate less than 6 hours of direct sunlight.

Type of soil 

It prefers well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 – 7.5, but they can tolerate various soil types and conditions. Adding organic matter such as compost or aged manure will help to improve the soil structure and fertility. Strawflowers should be watered deeply and allowed to dry out between watering to ensure healthy root growth.

Strawflowers

Watering 

Golden everlasting prefers dry conditions therefore it should be watered only when the soil is dry to the touch. When watering, water your plant thoroughly until it reaches the root zone, then allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Avoid wetting the foliage of the plant as much as possible and it is best when watered in the morning so that any moisture on the leaves will have time to evaporate during the day. 

Ideal Humidity and Temperature

Strawflowers prefer a warm, sunny location and well-drained soil. The plants should be watered regularly but not overly saturated. The ideal temperature range for this plant is between 65°F (18°C) and 75°F (24°C), with a relative humidity of 50-60%.

Fertilizers.

Strawflowers, also known as helichrysum, is a beautiful and hardy type of flower that can be grown in the garden or containers. Although they require minimal care and attention, there are a few ways to fertilize and feed your plant for optimal growth and blooming.

Strawflowers purple and yellow

Fertilizing plants:

Strawflowers benefit from a balanced fertilizer applied once every two weeks during their active growing season. A 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer is ideal for your plant as it will provide them with all the essential nutrients they need. For potted plants, use a slow-release fertilizer or one specifically formulated for container plants.

Feeding:

In addition to fertilizing your plants, you can give the plants an occasional feeding of liquid seaweed extract. This organic supplement will help the plants grow strong and healthy while encouraging more abundant blooms. You can also give your strawflower plants an occasional foliar spray with compost tea or fish emulsion to further boost their nutrient levels.

Common Problems 

1. Powdery Mildew: A fungal disease that can cause white or grayish spots on the strawflowers’ leaves and stems.

2. Root Rot: This is caused by overwatering, poor drainage, or fungi in the soil. It’s characterized by wilting, yellowing, and stunted growth. Wet conditions should be minimized. 

3. Spider Mites: These tiny pests feed on the sap of strawflowers, causing yellowing and browning of the leaves.

4. Aphids: These tiny bugs feed on the sap of strawflowers, which can lead to distorted flower heads and foliage discoloration.

Flower Blossom

Managing Pests and Diseases 

1. Remove any infected plants: Inspect the plants regularly and remove any that show signs of pests or disease, including wilting, discoloration, and insect infestations.

2. Provide adequate air circulation: Poor air circulation can create an environment conducive to disease development. Ensure your plants have enough room between them so air can circulate properly.

3. Avoid overwatering: Excess moisture promotes fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot. Water only when the soil is dry; avoid wetting the foliage if possible.

4. Apply fungicides: If you notice signs of disease on your strawflower plants, use a fungicide to treat it as soon as possible to prevent the further spread of the disease.

5. Use insecticides: If you see evidence of pest infestations such as aphids or mites, use an appropriate insecticide to treat the problem immediately before it gets out of hand.

The many uses of the versatile Golden everlasting

The golden everlasting blossoms are used for garnishing in dried designs, bouquets, wreaths, boutonnieres, corsages, table decorations, garlands, swags, potpourri, and more. They may also be cut and added to fresh displays for a unique splash of color. Even while growing in the garden, they reflect the look of dried flowers with a varnish finish.

Strawflowers - orange coloration

The oil derived from this plant is helichrysum and is widely used as an anti-inflammatory application in skin care products and aromatherapy. The blooms are excellent in their dried form as they retain their vivid colors for over a year and, therefore, are popularly used in:

1. Dried Flower Arrangements: Strawflowers look beautiful when dried and can be used to create stunning dried flower arrangements.

2. Wedding Decorations: Strawflowers are popular for wedding decorations as they create a romantic, vintage feel.

3. Bouquets: Strawflowers make great additions to bouquets as their petal-like bracts add texture and color to bouquets.

4. Floral Crowns: Strawflowers can make beautiful floral crowns that look amazing in photos!

5. Table Decorations: Strawflower table decorations are a popular way to decorate for special occasions such as weddings, birthday parties, gift wrapping, and more!

How to harvest and store strawflowers 

Harvest golden everlasting when the flower heads are just beginning to dry out and turn brown. Cut the sturdy flower stems at the base of the plant, leaving a few inches below it. Place cut stems in a vase or jar with room temperature water. Change the water every day to keep them fresh and reduce bacteria growth. 

Strawflowers arrangement

If you want to use strawflowers later, you will have to cut them before they are fully open and hang bunches of flowers upside down in a cool, dark place for several weeks until completely dry (this will take 3-4 weeks). Once they are dried, you can use them as is or store them away in an airtight container for up to 1 year.

Frequently Asked Questions. (FAQ)

Are strawflowers aggressive spreaders?

If you leave the spent flowers on the plant, they tend to reseed themselves in warm climates. However, this everlasting perennial is not considered to be invasive. They also spread by sprouting side shoots. 

Do you pinch strawflowers?

Pinching is a way of ensuring branching. This is a way of getting a bushier plant. Strawflowers do not need this. However, cleaning the plant by removing spent blooms will help to keep the plant blooming continuously.  

How do low light conditions or darkness affect strawflowers?

Strawflowers are sensitive to light. At night or on overcast days, you will see the flowers retract their petals to resemble unopened buds and will open again in normal sunlight. 

When should I harvest strawflower blooms for drying?

The best time to cut strawflowers for drying is when it starts to bloom or is only half open. If the blooms are harvested any later, the petals tend to fall out during the drying process. 

What is the growing season for strawflowers? 

Strawflowers typically have a long growing season, usually from spring through autumn. They are generally planted in the early spring and bloom throughout summer.

Are strawflowers suitable for organic gardening? 

Yes, strawflowers are suitable for organic gardening. The plant is drought and heat tolerant, so it is well suited to dry climates and doesn’t require chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

How does frost affect strawflowers?

Frost can damage the strawflower plant by causing the flower buds to drop off and damaging the leaves. It is best to protect your strawflowers from frost by planting them in a sheltered area, mulching around the base of the plant, and covering them with a frost blanket if necessary. If you don’t protect them, the plants risk dying out. 

How long does it take for strawflower seeds to germinate? 

Strawflower seeds typically take 7-14 days to germinate. 

What are the best companion plants for strawflowers? 

The best companion plants for strawflowers include yarrow, lavender, artemisia, verbena, coreopsis, and cosmos.

When should I transplant strawflower seedlings? 

Strawflower seedlings should be transplanted when they have at least three sets of true leaves. When transplanting, it is essential to ensure that the root ball is not disturbed and that the seedling is planted at the same level as it was in its pot or container after the danger of frost has passed.

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