Growing Statice in the Cutting Garden
Originally native to the Mediterranean areas, the commonly used annual statice is well adapted to very warm, dry summers. It is quite tolerant of salt spray. Sometimes it is also called sea lavender since the blossoms are often purple like those of true lavender.
For both fresh and dried floral designs, statice is often considered a staple. The bicolor varieties are especially popular as cut flowers since the outer and inner sepals contrast greatly in color.
Generally, statice can tolerate a diverse range of growing conditions. The ideal soil would be slightly acidic to neutral with a pH of around 6 to 6.5. It prefers a well drained soil, and does particularly well in sandy ones.
The annual statice will withstand adverse growing conditions including prolonged heat and dry spells. Statice does best if planted in sunny sites as it really loves warmth, reminiscent of the growing conditions in its native area. In full sun, it is less likely to suffer from fungal problems. Mildew and similar conditions can sometimes develop if the plants are crowded together too closely or when they don’t receive enough sun.
In addition to the annual statice, there are a number of perennial species that are used in floral design. Both annual and perennial species of statice are available as bedding plants, and can also be grown from seed. Those of the perennials aren’t as commonly available, so you may have to check in seed catalogs.
If transplanted into the garden in early summer, most of the perennial types will usually bloom the first year. Fall planting is also possible, although in that case the blooms won’t appear until the following year.
All the different kinds of statice can be direct sown into the garden. Germination takes about one to three weeks. When planting seeds of the Russian statice species, cover them well for they require total darkness in order to germinate.
Because statice seeds usually have a rather low germination rate (averaging around 55%), I usually plant more seed than I think I will need.
Depending on the variety grown, annual statice is around 1-2½ feet tall. Blossoms are often in large, flattish clusters. They are available in a range of colors, including white, blue, yellow and red, and also in bicolors.
The blossoms of perennial statice are usually in the form of large, cloud-like spikes containing large numbers of tiny, delicate flowers.
Of the perennial statice, there are at least four species in cultivation. These include what is sometimes known as German statice, reaching about 1½ feet in height. It has small, silvery clusters of flowers that appear fluffy.
Siberian statice, another perennial, is similar to German statice in height. Its mauve blossoms open in late summer from July into August. These are excellent for drying.
Caspian statice, a taller-growing perennial, reaches about 2½ feet tall, begins to bloom somewhat later, usually in August. The tiny, airy lilac-blue blossoms are in arching clusters. They are especially suited to fresh flower arrangements.
Russian statice, sometimes known as pink poker, is a shorter species. It is around a foot or so in height. Its rose-pink blooms open in late summer and well into the fall. They are in the form of long, dense spikes.
If planning to dry the cut flowers of either the annual or perennial species, harvest them before the blooms completely open. Then loosely tie the stems together in small bundles. Hang them inside down in a dry place out of the sun. If stored in a dark place, the blooms will last longer.
Whether you plan to cut the flowers for fresh or dried arrangements, the delicate beauty of statice should provide you with much joy.
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