Xerochrysum bracteatum [zer-oh-KRIS-um, brak-tee-AY-tum] is an herbaceous perennial known for its daisy-like flowers.
Also called the strawflower or everlasting flower, it can grow as an annual in the right regions.
Xerochrysum bracteatum belongs to the Asteraceae family of plants and is native to Australia, where it’s found growing in open grasslands.
Strawflower develops as a shrub and is adaptable to a variety of environments, making it a popular ornamental plant.
More Plants the Asteraceae Family
Size and Growth
Strawflower is a short-lived perennial in optimal conditions and an annual in colder areas.
It produces woody stems and semi-shrubby growth reaching up to 3′ feet tall.
The leaves are lance-shaped and grayish-green.
They grow up to 5″ inches long.
Flowering and Fragrance
Xerochrysum bracteatum blooms in June with flowers tending to last until the first sign of frost.
It’s a long bloom with daisy-like flowers. The flowers measure 1″ to 3″ inches long and feature central yellow disks and glossy petal-like bracts.
The bracts may appear orange, red, pink, yellow, or white, while the central disks are often yellow.
The flowers retain their shape and color when dried, leading to the common name everlasting flower.
Cut flowers also last a considerably long time.
Light and Temperature
Grow under full sun or partial shade.
Strawflowers grow best in sunny spots, as the plant craves sunlight.
While the plant grows in shaded spots, it may not produce full blooms.
Sunlight also promotes stronger stems, protecting against heavy winds when grown in an open area.
Strawflower survives winters in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 10, which includes Oklahoma and most of the west coast of the United States.
Temperatures shouldn’t drop below 60° degrees Fahrenheit (15° C) at night during the summers.
When growing indoors, avoid placing the plant near a window receiving direct afternoon sunlight.
Set near a window with indirect sunlight throughout most of the day to protect against scorching.
Watering and Feeding
Xerochrysum bracteatum doesn’t require frequent watering.
It can tolerate short periods of drought.
Water strawflowers only when the soil starts to feel slightly dry.
Use a liquid fertilizer diluted with water every two weeks during the spring and summer to encourage fuller blooms.
Soil and Transplanting
Use well-drained soil. The soil shouldn’t remain soggy after watering.
Loosen the top 10″ to 12″ inches of soil before sowing seeds outdoors.
If the soil stays overly moist, add sand or gravel to improve drainage.
Transplant container plants as needed, such as when they outgrow their current containers.
Repot strawflower in the spring, giving the roots many months to settle before the plant goes dormant in the winter.
Pinch back faded flowers for continual blooms throughout the growing season.
Cut the flowers just below the stem when the petals start to fade.
Repeat this process with all the dead flowers.
How to Propagate Everlasting Flower
Propagate from seed or cuttings.
Start seeds indoors before the start of spring or sow outdoors after the last threat of frost in areas with freezing winters.
In warmer regions, sow directly outdoors in the late summer or early fall.
Strawflower self-seeds freely when planted outdoors, but isn’t invasive.
Unfortunately, seeds from purchased plants rarely produce plants matching the mother plant.
The seedlings may grow asymmetrical.
To grow from seed, fill a tray with standard potting soil.
- Sprinkle the seeds over the surface.
- Don’t cover the seeds.
- Leave them exposed to the sunlight.
- Water the soil and then cover with clear plastic.
- Remove the plastic after the seedlings appear.
- Transplant seedlings to individual containers or outdoor gardens after they develop at least one set of true leaves.
It’s also possible to propagate with cuttings.
Take cuttings from healthy branches with multiple leaves.
The cutting should be at least 5″ inches long.
Remove the lower sets of leaves, leaving at least one set near the top.
Dip the tip of the cutting in hormone powder to encourage rooting.
Plant in individual pots with well-drained soil.
After the plants take root, transplant outdoors, or keep as container plants.
Only move plants outdoors when there is no threat of frost.
Rooted cuttings should bloom the following year.
Everlasting Flower Pest or Disease Problems
Strawflowers are virtually pest and disease-free.
The biggest threat is aster yellows virus.
The virus causes the leaves to yellow and stunts growth.
Remove the infected strawflowers to prevent the disease from spreading to other plants.
Other potential issues include spider mites and whiteflies, especially when grown indoors.
Protect against these insects by maintaining slightly humid conditions or spritzing the plant with water.
If the insects appear, take the plant outdoors and spray with water.
Severe whitefly and spider mite infestations often require the use of insecticidal soap.
Suggested Strawflower Uses
Use dwarf varieties of strawflowers for edging.
Use taller varieties for borders.
Strawflower also works well in containers or window boxes, adding color throughout the summer and fall.