Amazing annuals: xeranthemum

Unusual but easy and delightfully pretty, pretend it starts with a z and it is easy to say

As we get to the end of this series of annuals, I want to apologise to all the annuals I have missed out or ignored. In particular I have been very rude to all those everlasting flowers. I didn’t even mention limonium (statice) which I grow every year. And then there is bracteantha/helichrysum or whatever it is called now. All very worthwhile. Less so is ammobium, which I have mentioned before and want to like but the flowers are so small for the plant. And then there are rhodanthe and helipterum, both delightful and easy.

So, despite not being very common, I must mention xeranthemum, if only as a token for all its everlasting kin.

Xeranthemum (meaning dry flower) is a small genus in the Asteraceae – like most of these everlastings – but is native to the Med and east of this. It is a really lovely plant, that can grow to 60cm in good soil but will flower, at half that height, in poor, dry soil. Xeranthemum annuum is a slender plant, that branches at the base, with grey/silver stems and small leaves. From brown, scaly buds, the 1cm blooms open into various shades of white and pink. One of the joys of the plant is that it is see-through and has plenty of flowers at various heights on the plant. The flower colours match the foliage and it is overall a nice-looking plant.

It goes without saying that it prefers a sunny spot and well-drained soil. It can be sown in spring either where it is to grow, when I would wait till April, or in cell trays in March, a pinch of two or three cells per cell.

The flowers can be left to decorate your garden or you can cut them, but remember that you need to cut them before they are fully open if you want them to look decent when dried.

3 Comments on “Amazing annuals: xeranthemum”

  1. Annabel finnegan
    January 31, 2021 at 9:10 am #

    Thanks for this one. I vaguely knew the name and now I am definitely going to try them, but next year because my husband will leave if I buy another packet of seed this year!

    • thebikinggardener
      January 31, 2021 at 1:52 pm #

      Ahh – well I don’t want to be responsible for a domestic!

  2. tonytomeo
    January 31, 2021 at 4:32 pm #

    If I did not know that the flowers were dry, I would guess that the name implies that they are endemic to deserts or chaparrals.

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