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Past Articles Library | How to Grow and Dry 3 Commonly used Annual Flowers in the Floral Designs

Nothing is better than bringing the outdoors in and this is especially true if have run out of space for live plants. These three annuals can bring color to your garden space during the growing season. After that, the beauty can continue when dried for floral arrangements.

Bachelor’s Button or Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)

The name of this annual plant comes from two sources. One is the fact that this flower has been used to create boutonnieres, which is where the term “Bachelor’s button came from.” The second common name comes from a typical color by which cornflowers can be found displaying. What is this color? It is “cornflower blue,” which describes the vibrant color of this flower’s blue.

While this annual flower can be started indoors, it does better if the seed is directly seeded into the garden as soon as the soil has warmed and it can be worked. Unlike other annuals, cornflowers can take some frost so there is no need to worry if your seeds and/or seedlings are hit with a frost.

When picking a location by which to plant your seed, make sure it is full sun and the soil is well draining. Once you have your location picked, prepare the garden space by removing any unwanted plants. Loosen the soil down several inches. Smooth the soil surface over. At this point, you can make rows but this annual looks best when it is growing haphazardly. In doing so, just broadcast the seed and cover with one inch of soil. Mist the soil surface with water and keep evenly moist. The seeds will germinate in 7 to 14 days.

Once the seeds have germinated, thin them out so that there is 8 to 12 inches between plants. To create continuous bloom production reseed every few weeks.

When it comes to drying this flower, you will need to pick in the morning. Once they are picked, hang upside down in a warm but dark place. The stems of this flower are weak so you will need to cut off the stem and run a wire through the flower to create a strong artificial stem.


Strawflower (Helicbrysum bracteatum)

The name for this plant may seem a little odd since it does not look like straw but the common name actually comes from the texture of the “bloom.” The “bloom” itself is made up of tiny florets on stiff bracts, which makes the flower feel like straw. While this annual does come in yellow, it can also be found in shades of crimson, bronze, purple, salmon, orange, white, pink along with pastels tones of these colors.

The variety of color is not the only landscaping advantage that this annual flower has, the variety of height is the other. Depending on the variety, the height can range from 10 to 36 inches.

Strawflowers can be started from seed and/or cuttings. For this article, only seed propagation will be covered.

This annual flower can be started indoors four to six weeks prior to your local frost free date or directly seeded into a prepared garden space after a chance of frost has passed. When it comes to starting your strawflowers indoors, you will need to discover your planting date according to your frost free date. Once you have that date, prepare for the planting by cleaning and sterilizing your container(s). This is easily done by soaking your pots in water with a capful of bleach. Next, scrub the pots and rinse in clear water. Place the cleaned pots in a sunny location to dry.

Fill your cleaned containers with a moistened all purpose potting soil mix. Sprinkle the seeds on top. Do not cover with soil since the seeds need sunlight to germinate. Mist with water and place in a warm location that receives sunlight. In 7 to 10 days, you will see little dots of growth appear on the soil surface. Continue to monitor the soil moisture. Harden off the seedlings one week prior to your local frost free date.

After the seedlings have been hardened off, plant in a soil that is well draining and one that is in full sun.

If you do not want to start your seeds indoors, you can directly seed into the garden space after your local frost free date has passed.

When it comes to drying this flower, you will need to pick in morning when the centers of the flowers are yellow. Bunch the flowers together and tie together. Hang in a warm area that receives very little sunlight. In a few weeks, your flowers will feel dry. At this point, they are ready for floral arranging.  

Statice or Sea Lavender (Limonium sinuatum)

The term “statice” is one that misused to describe any plant that can be dried for floral arrangements. To make sure that you are getting “statice” make sure that you are buying by the botanical name.

When it comes to growing this annual, you can either get a jump on the season by growing your own from seed or buy plants. If you decide to start your own seeds indoors, you will need to begin this process 8 to 10 weeks prior to your local frost free date. Now that you have the date, you will need to prepare for the seeding.

To save time, I would recommend using peat pots for your planting project. The reason for this is simple. Your seeds will take 14 to 21 days to germinate. By the time that has happened and you are ready to plant your seedlings in the garden, the little plants may not be big enough to handle without causing damage to the roots. To avoid killing your seedlings while trying to get them out of the pots, just utilize the pots that you can plant directly in the ground without disturbing the roots.

Once you have your peat pots, fill them with a good composted type of soil. Place the filled natural pots in a container of water and allow them to sit until the soil is evenly moist. Next, place one seed per pot if possible. If not, sprinkle the seed on top and cover with 1/8 inch of soil but keep in mind you will need to thin them out prior to planting outside. Mist the soil surface with water. Place the planted pots in a sunny location. Monitor the soil moisture and water only when needed.

A week prior to your local frost free date, slowly expose the seedlings to the outdoor environment (hardening off). After your seedlings have adjusted to their new home, plant them in a sunny location with well draining soil. Beyond these environmental conditions make sure to plant your statice seedlings 12 to 15 inches apart.

If you do not want to start your seeds indoors, you can directly plant outside as soon as your local frost free date has passed and soil has warmed. 

When it comes to drying this annual, pick the blooms when they are half open. Place directly in a vase with no water or hand upside down in a warm location away from direct sunlight.


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Keep that Parsley Coming

Parsley is a biennial, often grown as an annual. Plants prefer full sun, but will survive in partial shade.

Parsley can be picked fresh throughout the season, but for use in the winter, cut the leaves in the fall, and dry or freeze them.

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