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.
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
- 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 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.