Growing Annual Everlasting Flowers

If you've been admiring dried bouquets lately, consider growing your own flowers for drying.
Flowers for Drying

Summer never fades away when you preserve garden blooms for year-round display. The best flowers for drying are everlastings, a special group of annuals that can be air-dried without losing their color or form. Read on and realize your garden's potential for immortalizing thebeauty of flowers.

Victoria Blue salvia Tiny spiked blooms smother 18-inch-tall Salvia farinacea all summer long. Pair it with the variety White Porcelain

Everlastings supply natural materials for dried wreaths, bouquets, and potpourris. For variety in color, texture, and fragrance, grow a mix of flowers and foliage plants that retain their beauty long after summer has passed. You can anticipate flowers by midsummer if you sow seeds in the garden after the last expected frost.

Lavender Lady gomphrena Despite heat and drought, the clover-like flowers of gomphrena (globe amaranth) bloom nonstop on stiff, 2-foot- tall stems.

For a longer snipping season, start seeds indoors four to six weeks early, or buy bedding plants at a local greenhouse. Because most flowers bloom best in a rich, well-drained soil, spade or till the earth to a depth of 8 to 10 inches before planting. Mix in healthy portionsof nutrient-rich organic matter, such as peat moss, compost, and manure.

Annual statice Statice supplies sprays of papery flowers on 12- to 30-inch-tall stems. Plants grow and bloom best in moist, fertile soil

A shovelful or two of sand will help improve drainage. Give each plant plenty of room to develop by spacing or thinning them according to the instructions on the plant label or seed packet. Because blooms arecut and whisked indoors for drying as soon as they open, plant flowers in an out-of-the-way spot, such as a vegetable patch, where your crimes of robbing the garden of color will go unnoticed.

Artemisia annua Foliage, not flowers, makes this 5-foot-tall annual (Sweet Annie) popular for drying. Use supple side branches as a silvery foil in wreaths. Crush brittle main stems and use as a fragrant potpourri.

Make borders no more than 4 feet wide so all blooms are within easy snipping reach. Mulch the plants to keep out competing weeds, conserve soil moisture, and prevent mud from splattering and spoiling blossoms.

Finally, remember that a dried bloom is only as beautiful as it was fresh, so take care to pick flawless garden specimens.

Continued on page 2:  How to Dry Flowers