When you begin planning your 2000 garden, consider the group of flowers known as “everlastings” because they dry so well. Everlastings can be easily dried for use in wreaths, arrangements, or craft projects, and can be enjoyed long after cold weather arrives in the fall.
One favorite everlasting is Gomphrena, also called globe amaranth. These were especially productive in East Texas in 1999, lingering far into November because of the extended warm weather. Gomphrena grown for drying fall into two categories: Gomphrena globosa, which grow into a small bush about two feet tall and wide, and Gomphrena haageana, a much smaller, upright, rather leggy plant. The globosas come in colors ranging from deep purple to rose, pink, pale lavender and white. Gomphrena haageanas generally fall into the orange and red spectrum and are especially striking when planted in large masses.
To dry your Gomphrena, pick some before cold weather settles in. Then hang them upside down in bunches, secured with a rubber band, in a dark, warm, dry location. Around the holidays a bowl of globe amaranth mixed with a bit of artificial greenery and some baby’s breath (fresh baby’s breath can also be air-dried) will brighten up your home or can be shared with friends.
Do be careful not to place these lovely dried flowers in direct sunlight as they will quickly fade. In indirect light, they’ll last for months or even years.
Other common everlastings are Statice, and strawflowers.
Two other everlastings that I’ve had luck with in the Tyler area are relatively unknown among my gardening friends: Ammobium and Xeranthemum. I have not seen them in stores in this area, but seeds can be purchased from mail-order catalogs.
Ammobium, also know as winged everlasting, is native to western Australia. It thrives on full sun and sandy soil, and produces multiple arching stems topped by small white daisies with yellow centers all summer long. I grow these plants where they get just a little protection from the hot Texas sun.
Xeranthemum, also known as Immortelle or paper flower, is endemic to southern Europe and Asia Minor. It does well in sunlight and light soil with some lime added. Its prolific daisy-like blooms, borne on slender stems, have a crisp papery texture when dried and are fragile. The colors are very appealing, in the bright pink and purple range as well as white.
As you do with the common everlastings, dry Ammobium and Xeranthemum by hanging them upside down in bunches, bound by rubber bands, in a dark, warm, dry location. After arranging your dried flowers, place them in a spot away from direct sunlight and you can enjoy them for months or even years.
Jean Brutout, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service