By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers
Ever think about planting a garden with dried flower crafts in mind? Bracteantha, commonly known as strawflowers or everlasting flowers, are the perfect choice. Bright papery blooms hold their color for months long after they are harvested and dried.
One series that has been available for more than 20 years is Dreamtime, bred by Suntory Flowers and offered to the trade by Ball FloraPlant. These are more compact mounded plants in four key colors – Jumbo Rose, Jumbo Red, Jumbo Yellow and Jumbo Pure White.
Last year, Suntory introduced a more robust variety, Granvia Gold. Vigorous plants produce larger flowers on taller stems. The landscape performance has just been outstanding in garden trials from the Deep South to the far North.
We’ve been having a lot of fun with Granvia Gold, trying out crafts. Last Thanksgiving, we made napkin rings with a single large bloom for each place setting. All we did was adhere the bloom to the ring with hot glue. The decorated rings will be usable again this November, but not quite as vibrant and fresh. The centers have darkened, and the petals have turned backwards, like a badminton shuttlecock. So maybe we will refresh with new flowers.
We’ve also adhered hundreds of blooms to Styrofoam letters and a large 16-inch ball! The big ball and letters were a hit at two summer exhibitions – California Summer Trials in Santa Paula, California, and Cultivate in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, we shipped the ball from California to Ohio and it still looked great. We didn’t use any sprays or preservatives.
Next year, we will have three new Granvia colors to play with in shades of pink, orange and yellow.
Here are some tips based on our own experiences harvesting the flowers and making the crafts:
You can harvest the flowers before they are fully opened. They will open as they dry. Sometimes you can get them to dry in a partially opened stage, which is also attractive with an origami look.
Harvest throughout the summer and set aside so you will have plenty for fall crafts. For our exhibitions, the grower harvested hundreds over several months and stored them loosely in a cardboard box. We still have some left!
Be careful not to burn your fingers when using hot glue. If you get melted glue on your finger, remove it as fast as you can! You can end up with a painful burn or blister.
Press the flower in place for at least a minute to adhere to the surface. Smoother Styrofoam is more challenging, as well as rounded surfaces. This is where it helps to also use floral wire to anchor the bloom and reinforce the glue. Simply insert the metal wire through the center of the bloom into the Styrofoam. Longer straight pins would work, too.
Enjoy your sunny creation!
Bracteantha are perennials, but only hardy to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10-11, and treated like annuals in most climates.
One thing that’s deceiving about a living “dried” flower is these plants do need water and can be quite thirsty in a planter. Best positioning is full sun for maximum flowering. Plant in large containers or beds.
Other flowers that lend themselves to dried flower crafts include gomphrena, celosia (cockscomb), lunaria (money plant), physalis (Chinese lantern) and hydrangea. Imagine the creations and wreaths you could make combining several of these!