Strawflowers (Xerocurysum bracteatum), also called Paper Daisies or Golden Everlasting, are a commonly found summer annual that blooms from summer to frost in this region. Colors include red, orange, pink, purple, yellow, white, and others. The herb is rather avoided by chewing mammals. Native to Australia and a perennial there in about USDA Hardiness 8-11, strawflowers are heat and drought-tolerant and grow in various soils.
With the specter of drought last season, strawflowers were a new plant to try. In a raised flowerbed with fast-growing marigolds, the heads and foliage in the bottom right corner of this photo show some strawflowers ready for a growth spurt. This year, I will start them about 8 weeks ahead to set out in warm soil so they flower sooner.
Strawflowers are a member of the daisy family and grow in a sunny location. They also grow in containers and have a height of over two feet. Flowers are on sturdy stems and can be encouraged to produce more by pinching off spent flowerheads.
An added feature is that strawflowers may be dried for later use. A handful of cut flowers with long stems from last season were hung upside down, away from sun and wind, until the foliage and stems were dry. Then the stems were cut to the proportion of the bouquet and arranged in an empty vase.
Flowerheads retain color. In fact, the dry, paper-like “petals” are bracts or modified leaves that require little water that can be used by the rest of the plant. The disc has outer rows of female flowers and central bisexual ones.
Strawflowers are pollinated by insects that feed on the plants and by wind dispersal. The bract colors attract pollinators and protect the flowers in harsh weather. Bracts, once the bloom is mature, open, and then commonly close over the central disc at night and on cloudy days. This photo shows the flowers in various stages, the day of the cutting.
This season, drought or not, I aim to add more colors of seeds and start them ahead of the season around eight weeks. Your thoughts about growing strawflowers are welcome.
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