The Xerochrysms (Bracteantha, Helichrysm) mentioned before come in a variety of colours. The small hybrids range through shades of pink, yellow, gold, bronze and shades of wine red
One that I have begun to grow I bought in as â€œRed Hybridâ€, the result of breeding, and the seeds come true to colour. I would say that the seed of the flowering plants in the home garden may produce some surprises which I will know about soon! These daisies do interbreed and throw back to originals, but are fun to sow and grow on because of the diverse colourings.
Fertilisers suitable for Australian native plants promote good growth in these plants. In general, Blood and Bone types, and slow release granules are recommended, but I suspect that any good organic fertiliser would do the job with these too. As with most gardening, taking the time to prepare soil, add fertiliser and make decisions about watering will bring the best results.
The main pests seem to be green caterpillars which you donâ€™t find until great chunks have been eaten out of the leaves. Remove by hand if you can find them, rather than resort to sprays. I have also found at certain times of the year that aphids gather on the growing tips. These will distort the flower buds if you do not do something to control them.
These daisies have papery â€œpetalsâ€ and are great in posies and flower arrangements. When used with other long keeping flowers and foliage they will last for many months.Â
The flowers are picked when the bud is full, as the petals continue to open after picking, during the drying period. Alternatively pick in tight bud and the bud will continue to open a little. You need to experiment with timing according to the effect you require. Hang the flowers upside down to keep the stems straight, or use florist wire to wire the flower heads. Cut the flower with a 1-2cm stem, poke the wire into the length of the stem, and place the wire stem into a container while the petals continue to open. I have found that the amount of opening is reduced if the heads are wired. If you prefer to, wrap the wires in green florist tape designed for this purpose.
These plants flower for months. The shrubby varieties are Xerochrysm (formerly Bracteantha), and prior to that they were known as Helichrysm.
The small flowered hybrid forms have lovely colours and a massed planting of one colour, or mixed shades can be very attractive. These small varieties would be wonderful in a cottage garden. They would also look good planted 3 or 4 to a large tub.
The flowers need to be picked regularly, either for use as cut flowers, or removed altogether when fully opened and becoming fluffy on the bush. This promotes new shoots and therefore more flowers.
I made a point of sowing a lot of seed of some Xerochrysms and others last season thinking that it was a few years old and therefore the germination would be poor. However I also made the decision to smoke all the older seed to see if germination rates would improve. Unfortunately I wasnâ€™t very scientific about it as I did not sow any unsmoked for comparison. I had little lawns sprouting in the seed containers, much to my delight and then consternation when I realised the work involved in potting on!Â
I tried a smoked vermiculite product called Regen 2000. It must be kept perfectly dry once the pack is open. As only a small amount of vermiculite is used on top of the seed you need to be using a lot of it considering the size of the pack. Smoke for this purpose can be bought in various forms, as a liquid which is diluted, or smoke primers which are soaked in a little water, to which the seed is added. Or of course you try lighting smoky fires and doing your own!
I found Xerochrysm macranthum and a red flowered Xerochrysm bracteatum. These are paper daisies or everlasting daisies as they are sometimes called. When the flowers are picked they can be hung upside down so that the stems remain straight while the moisture in the stem dries. The flowers continue to open so it is a good idea to experiment with the stage of openness at picking, as to what you want the flower to be like when dry.
Another way of dealing with paper flowers is to cut the stem to within 1 cm of the flower and poke fine florist wire along the length of the stem and just into the back of the flower. Stand the wired flowers in a heavy vase until the stem dries. These are great in floral decorations, or other crafts. The flowers last a long time, at least 12 months, after which you can do a new batch to replace the old.
I cut the plants back to fresh growth to encourage more shoots along the stem and eventually flowering again. These plants should last a long time unless we get severe frost this year.
Today has been a weed, prune and discard day. In doing so I discovered some treasures that I thought I had lost over the summer. Epacris impressa is not one that I would put in the ground here, but I love it. So it gets to live in a pot which is a hazard in itself. Beautiful Correa ‘Ivory Bells’ was just coming into flower.
I thought I had lost some of the native lillies, too. I knew that they died back in summer but I also thought that the watering may have rotted them. I tossed out a pot, only to reclaim it very quickly when I saw a small tuber with the beginning of a shoot. I rescued a whole box full, thankfully. A lot of Australian natives die down during the heat of summer to reappear when the weather cools down.
All the Xerochrysm (paper daisies) needed trimming and tidying and there were some beautiful colours amongst them. These were known previously as Helichrysm and then Bracteantha until it was discovered that the name Xerochrysm had the prior claim.
Other daisies like the Brachyscomes are flowering madly at the moment, particularly a fine leaved pink Brachyscome multifida and Brachyscome multifida ‘Amethyst’. Brachyscomes look like miniature marguerite daisies, although they a small perennials, rather than shrubs. I think I have said before that I love daisies.