Helichrysum: everlasting, straw flower

Height 30cm-1.2m (1-4ft)

Planting distance 30cm (1ft)

Flowers mid summer to early autumn

Light well-drained soil

Open sunny situation

Half-hardy annual

Helichrysum is a large genus which includes shrubs, perennials and annuals. The most common annual grown in Britain is Helichrysum bracteatum, and a number of varieties have been developed from it offering the gardener a wide choice of flower colours.

The showy daisy-like flowers of the annual species will be familiar to flower arrangers who often dry them for winter decoration. In the garden they are used to provide colour from mid summer to early autumn in borders and bedding schemes – the dwarf species are also suitable for containers. The plants have mid-green lance-shaped leaves.

Popular varieties

The following varieties are readily available:

‘Bright Bikini’ is a mixture of dwarf plants, 30-38cm (12-15in) high, bearing a profusion of flowers in bright colours.

‘Candy Pink’ has particularly large, double candy-pink coloured blooms, 7.5cm (3in) across and grows 90cm-1.2m (3-4ft) tall.

‘Frosted Sulphur/Silver Rose’ is a mixture of 75-90cm (2-1/2 – 3ft) tall plants with large double flower of sulphur yellow and clear rose-pink overlaid with silvery white.

‘Golden’ has golden flowers and reaches 90cm-1.2m (3-4ft) high.

‘Hot Bikini’ is a dwarf variety reaching 30-38cm (12-15in) high with rich scarlet flowers.

‘Monstrosum Double Mixed’ has double flowers in white and shades of rose, crimson, yellow and orange. The plants grow 30cm (1ft) high.

‘Rose’ has rose-pink flowers and reaches 90cm-1.2m (3-4ft) high.

‘Salmon Rose’ has salmon-pink blooms and reaches 90cm-1.2m (3-4ft) high.

‘Snowhite’ has double, pure reaches white flowers and 90cm-1.2m (3-4ft) high.

Cultivation

Sow the seeds in pans of seed compost under glass in late winter or early spring and keep at a temperature of 18°C (64°F). Prick out into boxes and harden off before setting out in the flowering site in mid to late spring. An open sunny site with light, well-drained soil is ideal. Rich soil encourages more flowers but reduces the strength of their colours.

Dead-head to encourage flowering on the side shoots.

Cut flowers for drying, before they are fully open and showing the central disc. Tie them in bunches and hang them upside down in a cool room or shed until they are dry. Avoid hanging them in sunlight — the colours fade and stems become brittle.

Pests and diseases

Downy mildew, a white fungal growth, can affect the leaves, eventually causing them to drop off.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Helichrysum: everlasting, straw flower

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