CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Cutting flowers from the garden is one of the most fulfilling tasks of spring and summer. I just love to walk around with my sharp shears, snipping blossoms to fill vases in the house.
I've passed along tips for the best cut flowers, but every year I get questions, so I'll pass along some hints to make your bouquets last.
From "The Gardener's Workshop":
A great flower for cutting is the strawflower, also known as paper daisy (Bracteantha bracteata and Helichrysum bracteatum). Typically grown as an annual (hardy in Zones 9 to 11), it grows 3 to 4 feet tall in full sun.
These bloom in red, orange, yellow and pink varieties, and they dry beautifully so you can enjoy them all winter long. They come in a range of heights and the papery petals are actually bracts, surrounding a central corolla. Easy to grow and easy to care for, this flower's only negative is that it is slightly vulnerable to downy mildew. It's easy to grow from seed. Tall cultivars may need to be staked.
If you plan to dry strawflowers, pick them on a dry, sunny day before they are fully open. They will continue to unfold as they dry.