November is not typically a time when you’re surrounded by clusters of red, orange, yellow, and pink flowers. But if you grew strawflower this year and dried it, that’s exactly what would be blooming in vases all around your house. Bracteantha bracteata, beloved in cutting gardens and among dried-flower fiends, comes in a rainbow of colors and a range of heights. It fills the garden with beads of color all summer long. Fun fact: What look like papery petals are actually bracts, surrounding a central corolla.
Common name: Strawflower, everlasting, paper daisy
Botanical name: Bracteantha bracteata (also Helichrysum bracteatum)
Plant type: Typically grown as annual
Zones: Annual in Zones 3 to 8; perennial in Zones 9 to 11
Height: 3 to 4 feet tall, depending on cultivar
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Average, well-drained
• Moisture: Average to moist
• Mulch: Mulch will help preserve moisture in the soil.
• Pruning: Deadhead to encourage continued blooms.
• Fertilizer: None needed.
• By seed
Pests and diseases
• Vulnerable to downy mildew
• Tall cultivars may need staking. Or plant them next to ornamental grasses, shrubs, or other tall flowers for support. Use dwarf cultivars in the front of the bed.
• Strawflowers are favorites for drying because they retain their shape and color for a long time. Pick the flowers on a dry, sunny day before they are fully open—they’ll continue to unfold as they dry.
• Other flowers that are great for drying include statice, globe amaranth, larkspur, baby’s breath, allium, money plant, and yarrow.
• Bright Bikinis Series strawflowers come in a mix of colors: red, orange, pink, yellow, and white. Blooms are 2 inches across; plants are 12 to 14 inches tall.
• Monstrosum Series cultivars are tall with large, double flowers. Many colors.
• StrawBurst Yellow (B. bracteata ‘Stabur Yel’) has large yellow flower heads. Grows 12 to 14 inches tall.
All in the family
• The genus Bracteantha contains only about seven species, all from Australia.
• Other members of the Asteraceae family include daisies, sunflowers, marigolds, zinnias, and, of course, asters.
Where to buy
• Burpee, Warminster, PA, 800-333-5808, www.burpee.com
• Main Street Seed and Supply Co., Bay City, MI, 866-229-3276, www.mainstreetseedandsupply.com
• Swallowtail Garden Seeds, Santa Rosa, CA, 707-538-3585, www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com
(Photo of Bracteantha bracteata ‘Stabur Yel’ Strawburst Yellow by Tracy Walsh)