Seeding Everlastings
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Wendy Johnston
Posted on: March 09, 2004

I’m just about to order some everlasting seeds from Richters for harvest and drying in the fall. I’m curious about growing them...do I just plant them in the garden like I would cornflowers or cosmos -- after danger of frost has past and directly in the ground?

What we call ‘everlastings’ -- i.e., flowers that dry well and last a long time -- come from all walks of life in the plant kingdom, so they are not all raised the same way. Most of the everlastings Richters sells are quick germinating annuals, but there are some slower growing perennials in the mix too. The quick germinating varieties can be sown directly in the garden in spring; but others are slower to grow and need to be started earlier indoors in most of the temperate zones.

Below is a list of Richters everlastings with a code to indicate when each is best to sow. The codes are:

1- early spring indoors (before outdoor planting time);

2- spring outdoors (at the beginning of outdoor planting time);

3- late summer or fall sowing (because seeds need to go through a cycle of freezing and thawing over winter to break dormancy).

In some cases you have a choice: to start indoors early (code "1") or direct outdoors at outdoor planting time (code "2"). If you are in a short season area, you will have better results with indoor sowing, and if you are in a long season area, then outdoor sowing will work well or may be preferred if the seedlings do not like to be transplanted.

What is "short season" and what is "long season"? I consider a "short season" one that has less than 120 frost-free days. In the North East of the United States, the frost free period starts about the middle of May and ends about the middle of September, a period of about 120 days. So, in the U.S. North East I would try sowing everlastings with code "2" directly in the garden, whereas in the Canadian prairies I would try indoor sowing a month or two before outdoor planting time.

Acrolinum 1 2

Ageratum, Yellow 1

Amaranth, Globe 1

Baby’s Breath 1

Cupid’s Dart 1 2

Immortelle 2

Love-Lies-Bleeding 2

Sandflower 2

Seaholly 3

Starflower 2

Statice, Garden 1 2

Statice, German 1 2

Strawflower 1 2

Thistle, Golden 2

What is the measure of success? Obviously, from the annuals you want harvestable flowers in the first season. From the perennials you may have to wait until the second season before flowers develop, depending on several factors, but mainly on the length of the frost-free period.

An excellent book to get is "Harvesting, Preserving & Arranging Dried Flowers" by Cathy Miller. The book is available from Richters.

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