Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Dried arrangements made with everlastings can brighten the home any time of the year. Typically, they’re used more often during the fall and winter months. Often, it is possible to grow the everlastings we need in our cutting gardens. However, you don’t always have to have a separate garden for growing everlastings. You can just plant a few extra in your flower beds and borders. Then you’ll have enough to prepare and dry to make colorful, natural arrangements for indoor use. Everlastings are also used for various other crafts, such as shadow boxes and picture frames.
Generally, everlastings are quite easy to grow. They include annuals, perennials, and biennials. Even ornamental grasses are among this diverse group. But, many everlastings tend to be annuals.
Among the perennials is Chinese lantern, which has decorative vivid orange fruits that resemble paper lanterns. Because Chinese lantern can spread readily by underground roots, it has a tendency to become invasive if the growing conditions are especially suitable.
Blue globe thistle, another perennial everlasting, is excellent for use in wreaths. It has perfectly rounded blue heads. Give these plants plenty of room, for they can grow to five feet tall.
German statice, the most popular of the perennial statice, is excellent for use in dried arrangements. They add vertical interest. Their tiny, silvery white blooms appear in dense spikes. Generally, this species doesn’t bloom until the second year when grown from seed.
Among the biennials is honesty or money plant. It has become a favorite for dried arrangements due to its unique shape. The shimmering flat, silver-dollar size seed heads last very well in dried arrangements. It self sows very easily, so you’ll only need to plant it once. Seed can be sown directly in the garden and need not be started indoors.
Both annual and perennial baby’s breath is superb as everlastings.
Other perennials for everlastings include sea holly. This species is similar to blue thistle Drumstick is a particularly dramatic everlasting. It features bright yellow, ball-shaped blooms. Drumstick is highly recommended for most areas of the U.S., including the South for it is very tolerant of hot conditions. All species of yarrow are also wonderful for everlastings.
Ornamental wheat and rye grasses are often used as everlastings. There are numerous varieties of these available. If planted early in the spring, these will usually be ready to harvest by late summer. It is possible to plant the seeds directly in the soil where they are to grow. These usually do best in full sun in a well-drained soil.
One of the simplest ways to plan a garden of everlastings is to buy a collection of everlasting seeds. Depending on which seed company you buy this from, the seeds of each variety may be packaged separately. Or they can be mixed together in one packet.
Generally, the seeds of most everlastings are planted indoors, and transplanted outdoors after frost is past. Direct seeding can be done once the weather is warm enough. However, those that are sown direct will usually bloom somewhat later.
You can also buy transplants of everlastings from garden centers and retail
stores. If only a small number of plants are required, I usually buy plants rather than start my own from seeds.
Annuals include strawflower, starflower, bells of Ireland, love-in-a-mist, and immortelle.
For drying everlastings, no special equipment is needed. Simply cut the flower or grass before the pollen begins to show. Remove the leaves, and hang the stalks with the heads down in a dark, airy spot until ready to use. I use my garage.
Almost all everlastings require full sun with the exception of honesty, which does well in partial shade. In addition, they require a well-drained soil.
By growing and drying a few everlastings, you can enjoy lovely arrangements in the home throughout the winter.