Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Audrey
Helichrysum (Helichrysum bracteatum or Bracteantha bracteata) flowers or strawflowers are primarily annual flowers that need replanting each year. For earlier blooms, start the helichrysum seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the date of the last spring frost.
Helichrysum flowers are commonly used as flower bed borders. They are used as fresh cut flowers or as dried bouquets. Cut flowers with 6 to 12 inches of stem and hang upside down to dry for two to three weeks.
This annual flower produces 36-inch stems with 2-1/2 inch blossoms. Flower colours range from cream to yellow to orange to red. Once dried, helichrysum flowers have a straw-like texture.
Helichrysum flowers form clumps of grey-green 5-inch lance-shaped leaves. Space seedlings in the flower garden 12 to 18 inches apart to give the plants room to spread out. Overcrowding reduces the amount of blossoms.
Helichrysum flowers thrive in full sunlight and prefer a lightweight, good-draining soil including sand and gravel. These flowers will rot in clay-type soils.
Seeds germinate and sprout 1 to 2 weeks after planting if the temperature remains around 21.1 degrees C. Seeds need bright light to germinate, so do not cover with soil. They bloom from late spring to fall.
According to online plant encyclopedia Floridata, there are at least two strawflower varieties--Dragon Hill Monarch and Diamond Head--that are considered short-lived perennials in warm climates. "Most of the available cultivars, however, are annuals and replanted from seed each spring," Floridata notes. "Even the perennial forms usually live only two or three years."
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Audrey