Helichrysum bracteatum, or Strawflower, is a stout perennial native to Australia. Here in Oklahoma we grow it as a summer annual. The 3 foot (0.9 m) tall plants have 5 inch (12.7 cm) long oblong-lanceolate leaves. Flowers of this species are great as cut flowers and when they are dried, the papery flowers will last indefinitely. Dwarf forms are available. The plants are easy to culture and make excellent container plants.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, the plants will bloom nonstop from 10 weeks after sowing and will continue to flower until frost gets them in the landscape. Flowers are papery and will reach up to 2.5 inches (6.5 cm) across. Flowers come in shades of yellow, orange, reds and whites. They are very showy.
Culture: Helichrysum bracteatum do best in full sun with a well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 2 parts loam and sand. Plants are well watered and allowed to dry before watering again. During the spring and summer months, we fertilize the plants monthly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ˝ the strength recommended on the label. In the fall, we collect seed and discard the plants. This is much easier than trying to overwinter them. When growing in the landscape, they tend to reseed themselves. In late winter, the plants are restarted for the next spring and summer.
Propagation: Helichrysum bracteatum is propagated from seed. Seed will germinate in 7-10 days at 65-75°F (18-26°C).
Helichrysum bracteatum was featured as Plant of the Week February 8-14, 2008.
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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.