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The Helichrysum, better known as a strawflower or everlasting daisy, grows in moist soil as an annual in milder temperatures and as a perennial in cooler climates. This colorful Australian native grows in the sun on average of up to approximately four feet tall (about 1.2 m) with thin, long leaves as wide as five inches (about 2.7 cm). Clusters of yellow, white, red, pink, purple, and orange flowers adorn the plant beginning in late spring. The main parts of the strawflower include the bracts, or petals, and the corolla. Some other varieties that exist include the Monstrosum, the Diamond Head, and the Dragon Hill Monarch.
For best results, this member of the Asteraceae, or daisy, family grows and blooms best during hot, midsummer seasons and survives well into the light, frosty conditions that come with the fall season. Strawflower plants may be cultivated from seed or from containers that can eventually be transplanted outdoors. Clay and sandy soils help to cultivate the plant, along with full sunlight. Seeds also need to be spaced apart and exposed within the soil to reap the benefits of growth.
Besides sowing the seeds and setting up the plants in full sunlight,the strawflower requires moist, well-drained soil. Gardeners should wait until the sandy soils dry before watering. Plant watering should be no more than once or twice a week to ensure the strawflower gets its nutrients without it being waterlogged. Strawflowers as annuals must be replanted and propagated every spring season. If raising the the plant as a perennial, it must be prepared for replanting every three years or so.
The cycle of the strawflower involves the growth of the stems and leaves, proceeded by the colorful flowers, which debut during late spring and last through early fall. The bracts, or petals, give the plant color, and the papery texture of the petals makes them an attractive feature for craft projects. The corolla surrounds the outer part of the flower and resembles that of a daisy. Adding stakes to the ornamental plants encourages tall, upright growth and prevents drooping. Organic fungicides help to control mildew and other plant diseases, while organic insecticides keep away pests.
The pom-pom-shaped Monstrosum variety comes in red, pink, white, or orange. The Diamond Head grows like a shrub in mild winter climates. The Bright Bikini version of the Helichrysum presents dwarf-sized, brilliant blooms. Strawflower with yellow-gold blooms identify as the Dragon Hill Monarch.
Some flower and gardening enthusiasts admire the strawflower because it adds ornamental value to lawn borders, patios, and window boxes. The plant is everlasting because it holds well in dried flower arrangements, wreaths, and other crafts. These plants can be dried by cutting the stems, then hanging the flowers upside down in a dry and an airy environment.
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