Helichrysum bracteatum is the most well known and is probably the best of all the everlasting flowers. It is the cut flower grower's staple, producing tall vigorous branching plants that are filled with large papery flowers.
The substantial 5cm (2in) wide deep purple-red blooms are held atop strong multi-branching bright green stems. The flowers are perfect for cutting, they have a subtle silky sheen and are striking in all stages, from bud to fully opened.
Helichrysum bracteatum grow to around 3ft (90cm ) tall. They are easy to cultivate and established plants grow well with little or no attention. The flowers bloom from mid-summer right up to frost, they prefer a position in full sun and will do well in poor to average soils. They tolerate heat and drought conditions and they can survive light frosts.
In the greenhouse, the plants will bloom non-stop from ten weeks after sowing and will continue to flower until frost gets to them in late autumn.
Helichrysum make one of the finest subjects for bouquets, apart from being useful for beds and borders. They are also an excellent dried flower, the papery flowers give an excellent natural colour.
Known as an 'everlasting' because the flowers will last indefinitely when dried. Both the colour and shape will last indefinitely.
Sowing: Early to late spring
Seeds may be sown indoors 4 to 6 weeks before it is time to set them into the garden or can be sown directly where they are to grow once all danger of frost has passed.
The seeds require light for germination, so they should be sown on the surface and not be covered. They will germinate in 7 to 10 days at 18 to 26°C (65 to 75°F).
Choose a position with a well-drained soil that is moist. They should be exposed to the sun half the day or more. They will tolerate drought and do well in dry, infertile soils. Plant 25 to 38cm (10 to15in) apart.
Fill individual pots or trays with well draining seed compost. (John Innes or similar). Moisten by standing the container in water, then drain. Sow the seeds thinly on the surface of the compost, pressing lightly into the compost to secure them.
Keep the compost moist by watering from the base of the container, never directly on top of the seeds. Once seedlings have their first true leaves, prick out and transplant to individual 7.5cm (3in) pots to grow on.
Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out, 1 to 2 weeks after the last expected frosts. Space 25 to 38cm (10 to 15in) apart.
Sowing Direct: Prepare the ground well and rake to a fine tilth. Add a complete fertiliser or mix in plenty of compost prior to planting. If sowing more than one annual in the same bed, mark the sowing areas with a ring of sand and label.
Sow seeds finely onto the surface of the soil as the plants need ample room to grow. Press the seeds in lightly with your hand and water using a fine spray attachment. Keep soil moist during germination.
The seedlings will appear in rows and can be easily told from other seedlings. Thin them out as necessary so they are finally 25 to 38cm (10 to 15in) apart. Carefully replant thinned seedlings elsewhere in the garden.
During the spring and summer months, fertilize the plants monthly with a balanced organic fertiliser diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. Water plants well and allow to dry before watering again but do not allow the soil to become bone dry, or the plant will die. Remove spent flowers to encourage further blooming. In the autumn collect seed and discard the plants.
When cut young and dried, the open flowers and stalks preserve both colour and shape indefinitely. Harvest when the flowers are only partially open, (when 2 to 3 layers of petals have opened), they continue to open as they dry. Immediately, hang the flowers by the stem upside down in small bunches, in a dry, dark, open, airy place (the colour tends to fade if they are dried in the light).
The genus Helichrysum consists of an estimated 600 species, Native to Africa (with 244 species in South Africa), Madagascar, Australasia and Eurasia. The species may be annuals, herbaceous perennials or shrubs, growing to a height of 60-90 cm. Several species are grown as ornamental plants, and for dried flowers.
Helichrysum bracteatum is a stout perennial in its native Australia. It grows in all Australian states and territories other than the Australian Capital Territory.
Helichrysum is a famous bloom symbolic of Baguio City, Philippines. Strings of these flowers are sold in the markets and streets of the summer capital. And due to their longevity, it is also a favorite of devotees who adorn their altars with these blooms.
The genus name is derived from the Greek words helisso meaning to turn around, and chrysos meaning gold.
The most popular common names are Strawflower and Everlasting flower, both of which are used for other flowers, including Xeranthemum.
Helichrysum bracteatum is also known by the synonyms Xerochrysum bracteatum and Bracteantha bracteata.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 500mg Average Seed Count 700 Seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Helichrysum Species bracteatum Cultivar Purple-Red Synonym Bracteantha bracteata, Xerochrysum bracteatum Common Name Strawflower, Everlasting, Paper Daisy, Immortelle Other Common Names Helichrysum monstrosum Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers Purple-Red Natural Flower Time July to September Foliage 12cm (5in) long oblong-lanceolate leaves Height 90cm (36in) Spread 25cm (10in) Position Full sun Soil Well drained Time to Sow Early spring indoors or direct sow once risk of frost has passed. Germination 7 to 10 days at 18 to 26°C (65 to 75°F).