Thursday, November 24, 2011

Golden Paper Daisy

Xerochrysum bracteatum, (Helichrysum bracteatum), (Bracteantha bracteata)
The cheerful, long-lasting golden flowers of this Australian icon are probably our best-known wildflowers. They are flowering madly in grasslands and road verges, all around our district, at present - and will go on doing so right through to autumn. They are easy to grow from seed, collected at this time of year and planted in March or April. Some plants will persist into a second year, but for garden purposes they are best grown as annuals.
Xerochrysums (by various names - the nursery trade hasn’t kept up with the botanists’ name changes) are sold in nurseries. These are cultivars, developed for the generous size of their flowers and shorter, more compact plants, and are usually perennial. There are also some multi-coloured annual forms, easily available in punnets (with names like “Bright Bikini”). They are the result of breeding done in Germany in the early 19th century, where they were crossed with African relatives of the Australian plant.

Our local natives, however, are easy to establish in our local gardens, and are bright and pretty.

Cutting flowers for use in vases only prompts the plants to produce more of them. It is a particularly good practice early in the season, as pruning the young plants makes them bushier. They have a tendency to get leggy in late summer. Planting them together with low-growing plants, produces an attractive result.
Paper daisies make very good cut flowers. Put fresh into vases, they last well over a week even in air conditioning. They are also suitable for drying, either by being wired as soon as they are cut, or by being hung upside down by their stalks, which will dry stiff and straight. Newly-opened young flowers are the best for floristry of all kinds.
Like all daisies, this species attracts butterflies to gardens. The adults of all kinds come for their nectar, and the painted lady butterfly (Vanessa kershawi) can breed on them.


Leanne said...

I bought a punnet of Helichrysum bracteatum today and dived on to the net to find more info about it and I stumbled upon this post which I found most helpful, thank you! I am a keen suburban native gardener in Brisbane, so I was pleased to learn from browsing your page about Peacehaven and the native nursery at Crows Nest. Should I be back up that way again, I'll keep them in mind. Your blog is very interesting and most informative; I will pass on your URL to my SGAP Southside Group friends. As it so happens I also keep a blogspot. Thanks again.

Patricia Gardner said...

Thanks for the comment, Leanne. Love your blog. You do take lovely photos!

Detmar said...

I have grown Golden Paper Daisy from seed very easy in Germany. I cant imagin how these plants can grow in the dryest continent: australia. They need so much water i have never had any plant indoors or outdoors which need so much water. BUT I dont know any plant which does so good recover after giving water if they are dry. How long are the roots if they grow in dry Australia?

Patricia Gardner said...

Hello Detmar.
It's nice to hear from you.
I have heard this comment from someone else in Germany as well, and it puzzles me.
Paper daisies are the only annuals that I ever bother to grow, because once they are established, they need no watering at all, even when there is no rain for months! This is a good thing. We have had such very dry weather for the past few months, and the rainwater tank is almost dry.
I grow these yellow daisies, and the hybrid multi-coloured ones, which I believe were developed in Germany from Australian and African parents.
I have never measured the roots of the plants, but they are not very deep.
Perhaps the difference between Germany and Australia is that here we expect the leaves to droop when the plants are dry. This is a sign that they are conserving water, not a sign that they are dying.
Whatever, the reason, I hope you continue to enjoy your Australian daisies.