Helichrysum - Straw Flowers.
This is a large group of plants with over 500 species that include annuals and herbaceous
perennials and shrubs. The genus has been broken up into a number of other groups with the
species listed under bracteatum now listed under Bracheantha bracteantha. The
annuals are the most popular in gardens, were their flowers are cut and dried for winter
decorations, and for the most part are native from Australia. They grow 2 to 3 feet high with
oblong to lanceolate shaped leaves up to 5 inches long with stems that are topped off with
flowers that are 2 to 3 inches wide. The flowers are daisy like with petals that are dry and shiny
with upraised centers. The flowers come in a wide range of colors except blue. For the best dried
material the flowers should be cut just before they are fully open
A number of perennial species include:
H. arenarium, which grows about 10 inches high and has oval leaves and bright yellow
H. rosmarinifolium( Now in Ozothamnus) is a shrubby species native from
Australia. and grows over 8 feet tall with ribbed branches and short, narrow leaves, an inch long.
Plants have small, white flowers produced throughout the summer.
[lanatum] is a sub-shrubby species, which grows about 12 inches high with small leaves covered
with silvery fuzzy hairs. Native from Central Asia and is hardy in Zones 10-11.
bellidioides plus H. frigidum are used in the the rock garden. Both with small, white colored
flowers. Hardy in zones 7-10. Native from New Zealand.
H. splendidum is another perennial ,bushy shrub that grows 4 feet tall from South Africa. It has
white-wooly stems and leaves and golden yellow flowers. Zones 9-11.
These plants need full sun in soils that are well drained and moister retentive. H. arenarium
should be grown in rich, loamy soil. while Ozothamnus rosmarinifolium needs sandy
soil. The straw flowers will perform best in well-draining soils that are low in nitrogen and on the
alkaline side. The Alpine species need gritty soils that drain quickly.
The annuals are increased by sowing seeds in pots or flats filled with light well draining soil
medium. Start in late winter, under cover and use a temperature of 50 to 55 degrees.. Seeds can
also be sown directly in the soil outdoors where they are to grow in early spring.
Those listed below all are Annual straw flowers.