I'm starting a new series for my blog, called wedding flowers Wednesday. Every Wednesday, I will post about one of the many beautiful flower varieties that I grow on my farm and use to create flower arrangements for weddings. I couldn't think of a better way to start than with the beautiful and unique silvery rose strawflower. They're not a typical florist flower, but they grow wonderfully on the farm, and are the perfect color for a classic blush wedding.
It is best to harvest strawflowers with closed petals in the center, like the flower on the upper right. The lower left flower is old and past.
Color and Appearance
Strawflower silvery rose is white and streaked with a pale pink blush. The texture of the petals appears lustrous, like a fine satin fabric. Touching the petals reveals that they are dry and sturdy, feeling just like straw, as their name would imply. The size of the flowers are about two to three inches across, and they have a flat, circular shape. Several layers of petals bedeck the silvery rose strawflowers, and an adorable ball of closed petals forms the center, like a cute button.
There are many color schemes that beautifully complement the silvery rose strawflower. They look great in a monochrome, all blush color scheme. Other blush seasonal flowers that look great with silvery rose strawflowers are dianthus chabaud la france, dahlia cafe o’lait, zinnia benarys giant light pink, zinnia zinderella lilac, snapdragon potomac lavender, and yarrow pink grapefruit. This blush mix features a beautiful array of sizes and textures of blooms, all in the same pale pink color scheme. Another color scheme that is beautiful for strawflower silvery rose is to mix it with flowers and foliage of other light and pastel shades, such as dusty blue, sage green, white, pale purple, and ivory.
With its small size, strawflower silvery rose is best used as a secondary flower in bouquets. It is best to pair it in a bouquet with a larger focal flower, such as a dahlia, and some fluffy filler flowers, such yarrow. Strawflowers really shine in boutonnieres and corsages. They are the perfect size for these smaller floral adornments, and hold up beautifully outside of water.
What’s so special about strawflowers?
Strawflowers are unique in that they are excellent as a dried flower. Fresh, their petals are already dry, like straw. They look the same dried as fresh. Strawflowers can be saved from your wedding bouquet and dried as a beautiful keepsake for your special day. There are many crafts you can make with your dried strawflowers. You could glue your dried strawflowers to a picture frame that holds one of your wedding flowers. Strawflowers can also be threaded onto a necklace or earrings. They are beautiful encased in resin to make ring holders, book ends, and many other beautiful and practical items.
Strawflowers are currently available from my flower farm from late June through the end of October. I am experimenting with planting strawflowers in October in my heated greenhouse to have even earlier blooms. I will update this post to include the expanded seasonal availability if my experiment is a success.
How to grow strawflowers in Connecticut
Strawflowers are native to Australia. They need a little help to successfully grow in Connecticut, but overall, they are easy to grow. I do not recommend direct sowing the seeds in the ground. Connecticut can get heavy rain, which will wash the tiny surface-sown seeds away. We also have aggressive weeds that will outcompete the slowly germinating strawflowers.
Fortunately, strawflowers transplant beautifully. I like to start my strawflower transplants in mid-March. I sprinkle two to three seeds into the hole of a one and one-half inch soil block, and do not cover the seeds with soil. I use seedling heat mats to warm the soil blocks to seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit, and keep the soil blocks in a sunny place, as light is required for germination. Then, I gently mist the soil blocks with water twice a day until they germinate. Once germination is complete, I water them once a day with a watering can. Germination typically takes about ten days.
Assuming the weather forecast shows no temperatures below twenty-five degrees, I transplant my strawflower seedlings out in late April, 5-6 weeks after planting the seeds. The strawflowers enjoy getting started in cooler weather. They can handle light frosts, but hard frosts in the low twenties will kill them. If you’ve already transplanted out your strawflowers, and an unusually late hard frost is forecasted, you can protect them with row covers or blankets to get them through the cold night.
Pinching is important to increase your yield of the strawflowers. When the strawflower plant is about a foot height, cut it back to a height of six inches. This will cause the plant to branch, bringing on more buds and eventually blooms. Expect to harvest your first strawflowers two months after transplanting, which is late June with typical Connecticut weather.
Tips for harvesting
There are a few things to keep in mind when harvesting strawflowers. Strawflowers are best picked before the center is fully open, revealing the yellow stamens. If harvested with an open center, the blooms will shatter after being harvested, especially if you’re drying them. It’s best to harvest them with just one layer of petals unfolded, and the remaining petals tightly closed. Strawflowers close in dark and/or cool conditions, and open in bright and/or warm conditions. They can trick you. If you’re harvesting in the cool, dimly lit morning hours (the best time to harvest) a strawflower that is too old and past might appear still closed. It’s best to stay on top of your strawflowers with daily harvesting to prevent any of them from getting to the point of being too open.
If you harvest your strawflowers on a sunny afternoon, the stems will droop and wilt, which is a problem for fresh use. While the stems usually recover after conditioning in a cool dark place, they will often recover and harden in a bent shape. A way to get around this is to cut just the bloom off of the plant, and then replace the stem with a piece of wire. It is best to wire your strawflowers while they are fresh. If you wait until they are dry, they become very hard and it is difficult to poke the wire through.