Past Articles Library | Growing an Everlasting Favorite-Helichrysum
Oh, nothing beats growing a garden full of everlastings. But what in the world is an everlasting? Well, an everlasting is a type of plant material that can be dried and a standard example of this is the strawflower.
Helichrysums are annual flowers that grow to a mature height of 2 to 3 feet. They love to be planted in full sun but when it comes to the soil condition, they like it poor and well draining.
As far as the propagation goes, strawflowers can be started from seed and softwood cuttings.
To start your strawflowers from seed can be done 6 to 8 weeks prior to your local frost free date or directly seeded into the garden bed. Starting your seeds indoors starts with a little prep work. First, you will need to properly select the correct size container. Since you are only germinating the seeds, you will need a shallow container. Once you have found your container, the next step is to clean it. This must be done whether the container is new or one you found sitting around the garden shed. After you have your container, fill a bucket with warm water and add a capful of bleach. Allow the container to soak for a few minutes.
Next, take a scrub brush and scrub off any dirt and hard water. Once the container is clean, rinse it in clear water, and sit out to dry.
After the container has dried, fill it with a good all-purpose potting soil and water in. The next step is to open the seed packet and sprinkle the small seeds on tip of the soil surface. Do not cover with soil. This particular seed requires sun exposure to germinate. Next, gently water the soil surface.
While you can simply broadcast the seed, it is better to go ahead and space out the seeds. To get the most from your seeds, plant the seeds 1 inch apart.
Continue to monitor the soil moisture and water as needed to keep the soil from drying out. You should see little dots of green begin to appear in 7 to 10 days.
Once the seedlings are 2 inches tall, you can move them to larger containers. Continue to monitor the soil moisture until your local frost free date has passed. At this point, gently expose them to the outdoor environment until they have been kept outside for a full 24 hours. This process is called hardening off and can take up to 2 weeks to finish.
The other way you can propagate with seeds is to plant them directly into the garden soil. This process starts off with proper garden preparation. If you are creating a new garden spot, you will need to remove all the existing vegetation, and loosen up the soil at least several inches down. On the other hand, if you are planting in an existing garden space, simply loosen the soil surface up and remove any unwanted plant material. Once that is done, you can either lay down a ruler and plant each seed according to the proper spacing or simply broadcast. The next step is to gently water in with a misting head on your watering hose.
If you broadcast, thin the seedlings out to one foot after they have reached 2 inches in height.
The last way one can propagate strawflowers is through softwood cuttings. These cuttings will need to be made in early summer. This is the time when the stem of the plant is not too hard or too soft. To begin this process, you will first need to gather a few items. First, you will need a sharp knife and a container. Since you are taking cuttings, the depth of the container needs to be shallow or at least 3 inches deep. Next, you will need to prepare the container by sterilizing it. To do this, take the container and soak it in a sink full of water with the addition of a capful of bleach. Allow it to soak for a few minutes. Once that is done, scrub the container to remove soil and debris. After it has been cleaned, rinse it in clear water, and sit it out to dry.
The next step requires you to fill your dried container with a good all-purpose potting soil. Now you are ready to head out to the garden space to start harvesting your cuttings.
But keep your cuttings from succumbing to plant disease, take a rag and pour a little bleach on it. Wipe down your knife’s blade prior to making your first cut.
Now that your knife is ready, let’s go outside. When it comes to selecting plant material to cut, you need to look at the quality of the plant. Damaged or deformed stems and/or leaves can be an indication of plant disease. What you are really looking for is perfect plants.
After you have found a few that appear to be healthy, the next step is to take the cuttings. Take a cutting that is between 3 to 4 inches in length but do not simply make a straight cut. The host plant and the cutting will both benefit from an angle cut. An angle cut on the host plant heals better and prevents water from pooling up on the cut. As far as the cutting goes, the angle roots better.
Once you have a cutting made, dip the cut end into a rooting hormone. Using a pencil, make a hole for the cutting. Slip the cutting into the hole and gently push the soil around the cutting. Repeat until you have taken all the cuttings you want. Next, water the cuttings in and place the container in a clear plastic bag. Place in a warm location that does receive some sunlight but be careful. Too much sunlight will cook the cuttings in the homemade greenhouse.
Continue to monitor soil moisture in the DIY greenhouse. The cutting should become rooted in six to 10 weeks. How can you tell if the cuttings have rooted? The easiest way is to give them a little tug. If you gently pull on them and there is some resistance then they have become rooted.
Once your cuttings have rooted, do not simply put them in the garden space. You will need to harden them off. To do this, expose them to the outdoor environment gradually over a two week period. After that two week period has passed, it is time to plant your cuttings in the garden.
Beyond watering the seedlings and/or cuttings, you will need to fertilize the plants with an all-purpose fertilizer once a month during the growing season.
Strawflowers by nature are pretty self sufficient after you get them in the ground. The only thing you will really need to monitor is soil moisture. Water when the soil is dry and/or when you have not received at least one inch of rain per week.