Heat-loving and drought-tolerant, strawflowers grow well in areas with hot summers (cue my happy dance!) Brightly-colored concentric rings adorn these tall stemmed beauties. This Australian native is also called “Everlasting flower” or “paper flower”. Strawflowers are an excellent choice for a cutting garden and provide long lasting blooms in the garden as well. Learn how to grow strawflowers with these five tips.
5 Tips for How to Grow Strawflowers
1. Choose the best location for growing strawflowers
Strawflowers grow best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. During the hottest months of the year in warm climates like the low desert of Arizona, strawflowers are happiest with some afternoon shade.
Strawflowers do well in most soils as long as it is well-draining. Add compost to the planting area before planting.
Give strawflowers enough room to grow well and allow for airflow. Depending on the variety, strawflowers grow between 2-3 feet (61-91 cm) tall and 6-18 inches (15-45 cm) wide. Larger varieties may need flower stakes to stay upright.
2. Plant strawflowers at the right time
In warm zones, start strawflower seeds outdoors directly in the soil when soil temperatures reach 65-70°F (18-21°C).
- Sprinkle seeds lightly on the soil surface. Press into soil gently. The seeds need light to germinate, do not bury deeply. Keep soil moist until seeds sprout.
- Space seeds about 12 inches (30cm) apart.
- Seeds sprout in 1-3 weeks.
Strawflower seedlings transplant well. If multiple sprouts appear, allow them to grow a few inches high and then carefully transplant them to other locations in the garden.
In the low desert of Arizona, start strawflower seeds indoors from August through December. Plant seeds or transplants outside from October through February.
In cool zones, start strawflower seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost and transplant outside once nighttime temperatures are above 50°F (10°C).
3. Care for strawflowers correctly as they grow
- Mulch plants well to help retain moisture and keep down weeds in the soil.
- Water the root zone completely each time you water and then allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out between watering. Do not let roots get soggy; they will rot.
- Apply an organic fertilizer occasionally throughout the growing season if desired.
- Cut the main stem when the flower is 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) tall to encourage branching.
- Keep spent flowers deadheaded to encourage more blooms.
4. Harvest strawflowers at the right time for the longest lasting and best looking blooms
Strawflowers make an excellent cut flower in fresh and dried arrangements. Depending on their intended use, strawflowers should be harvested at different times.
To harvest strawflowers for use in fresh arrangements:
Harvest strawflowers when 3-4 sets of bracts (petals) are open but before any of the middle pollen is visible. Give the stem a slight wiggle – if it remains upright it is ready to harvest. If it wiggles, wait a bit longer to harvest. Cut the stem leaving 4 to 5 side shoots below. Strip leaves on stem before placing in water.
To harvest strawflowers for drying:
Strawflower petals (called bracts) are like stiff paper and hold their shape and color well as dried flowers. Harvest when only 2-3 bracts (petals) have unfurled and no yellow pollen is visible. Remove all leaves and hang flowers upside down to dry. The bracts will continue to open as it dries. A fan can speed the drying process.
5. Save seeds from strawflowers to plant next season
Once you’ve learned how to grow strawflowers you can have seeds to plant for years to come. To save seeds, at the end of the season leave the largest and prettiest blooms on the plant. The center of the bloom elongates and forms dandelion-like parachutes for each seed as it dries. Lift the parachutes up, and the small dark seeds will be attached or in the base of the flower.
Friday 17th of February 2023
Will the seeds grow true to the parent plant colour or will they cross with other colours if different varieties are planted side by side? If space between varieties is needed, how much space? Thanks for your article. We love strawflowers and grew a lot last year but I didn’t save seeds bc I thought they might cross and I want specific colours.
Tuesday 21st of February 2023
That is a good question. I'm not sure if they are true to color or not. If you find out, let me know.
Sunday 17th of October 2021
I have two beautiful strawflower plants in pots on my front porch. I'm in sw Michigan. Can I plant those in the ground and have them come up next spring?
Monday 18th of October 2021
They are not frost tolerant - they will die during the winter. Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost and transplant outside once nighttime temperatures are above 50°F (10°C).
Thursday 1st of July 2021
Is the months above correct? It says to plant in the low desert from October to February? Is it supposed to say February Thru October since these are heat loving flowers?
Thursday 1st of July 2021
You plant seeds beginning in October and can plant through February so they are established before the heat. Here in the low desert they typically bloom from March through early September.