Xerochrysum bracteatum. This mixed strawflower blend is selected for uniform growth and uniform flowering, so it's ideal for flower arrangements both fresh and dried. Sultane strawflower seeds produce a bright and festive looking range of flowers in copper-red, orange, yellow, pink, salmon, and white. The stems are tall and straight, and perfect for cutting. As dried flowers, they keep their colour and crisp nature better than most. In the garden, strawflowers are highly attractive to wild and domestic bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and other beneficial insects. Sultane grows to about 90-100cm (36-40") tall. To dry strawflowers, simply gather them in small bunches and hang upside down indoors in an airy room away from direct sunlight. Once dry, these will last for months.
This is a great place to start when you want to learn how to grow strawflowers from seed. Strawflowers are well known by crafters and florists for their unusually high quality as dried flowers. The petals on each strawflower are like stiff paper, and they unfold from the center to form concentric rings in bright colours. Officially a tender perennial, most gardeners treat them as annuals and simply sow fresh seed each year. Give them an early start indoors, or direct sowstrawflower seeds in places with long summers.
Xerochrysum bracteatum (also widely listed as Helichrysum bracteautum and even Bracteantha bracteata).
Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun
Direct sow mid-April, but only in regions with long summers. Otherwise, sow indoors 6 – 8 weeks before last frost. That’s before the third week in February on the coast. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 18-21°C (65-70°F). Seeds should sprout in 5-20 days.
Sow seeds on the surface of the soil, as they need light to germinate. Water from below or use a mister to avoid disturbing the seeds. Space 30-45cm (12-18″) apart, and only transplant once the night time temperatures are consistently above 10°C (50°F).
Sultane strawflower seeds are particularly uniform, so they tend to all be in bloom at once from summer to late fall. Cut flowers as needed for arrangements and drying, and deadhead any spent flowers that you are not going to use. Doing a second sowing, two to three weeks after the first, will produce a longer bloom time.
Cornflowers are attractive to butterflies and pollinators of all kinds. They attract predatory hoverflies. Plant them any place where aphids are a nuisance.
More on Companion Planting.