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Blooming Plants
            
 
  Blooming Plant of the Month
            Strawflower


Botanical name
Helichrysum bracteatum (hel-ih-KRY-sum brak-tee-AY-tum)
Common name
Strawflower
Description
Strawflowers are warm-weather annuals or short-lived perennials. They have thin, lance-shaped, grayish-green leaves up to 5 inches long and sandpapery, hollow, branching stems that can reach 3 to 4 feet. The daisy-shaped blossoms are about 2 inches across and can be individual or in few-flowered clusters on the ends of the branches. The “petals” are actually bracts surrounding the central disc of florets. The bracts are papery with a strawlike, crackly texture, which is why they are called strawflowers.
Colors
Strawflowers are available in varying hues of pink, red, orange, yellow, purple, maroon and white. Many are bicolored or multicolored.
Consumer life
With appropriate care, blooming strawflower plants will last indoors for about two weeks depending on the environment. Outdoors, strawflowers are generally treated as annuals, and they do well in containers.

Varieties
There are many cultivars grown as cut flower and blooming plant crops. Some notable varieties include:
‘DRAGON HILL MONARCH’ AND ‘DIAMOND HEAD’ They have golden-yellow flower heads up to 3 inches across.
MONSTROSUM SERIES These 3-foot-tall annuals have double flowers in hues of red, orange, pink or white.
BRIGHT BIKINIS SERIES These dwarf annuals have 3-inch double flowers. The plants reach only about a foot tall.

Availability
Strawflowers are available mostly in the early summer through late fall.

In-store and consumer care
light
Bright diffused light is best for indoors. Full sun or filtered sunlight is best if the plants are placed outdoors.
water
Keep soil evenly moist by checking plants daily. Severe drying will cause the leaves to yellow and drop. Drying also will delay flower development. Do not allow pots to stand in water.
storage
Keep the plants in cool areas when they are not on display, but do not refrigerate them.
temperature Keep strawflowers in a warm (65 F to 75 F) location.
fertilizer
Use a bloom fertilizer until the blossoms are developed and opened.
soil
A light potting soil mix that is well drained is best for strawflowers.

Challenges
ethylene sensitivity
Strawflowers do not show sensitivity to ethylene.
interior conditions
Strawflowers are really outdoor annual plants. They may exhibit yellowing leaves under interior conditions.
pests
Strawflowers are fairly resistant to insects and disease.

Fun facts
family
Strawflowers are members of the Asteraceae, or Compositae (daisy and aster), family. Common relatives include Gerberas, chrysanthemums, Zinnias, Ageratums and Dahlias. They are natives of Australia.
meaning
Helichrysum is from the Greek “helios” for “sun” and “chrysos” for “golden.” The species name bracteatum refers to the bracts associated with the flowers.


Some information provided by:
Repetto Nurseries, Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Chain of Life Network®, www.chainoflifenetwork.org

You can reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at sbfloral@aol.com or by phone at (415) 239-3140.

Images courtesy of John Henry Company, Lansing, Mich.


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