Grow Your Own Everlastings: Flowers for Growing & Drying
Are you ready learn about some of the most incredible flowers ever?! I’ve been dabbling in growing everlasting flowers for the last few years, and I seriously considered dedicating an entire flower patch to them next year because they are so worthwhile, intriguing, and magical. Everlasting flowers are perfect for DIY home decor projects, gifts, and more so I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.
What are everlastings? Everlastings are plants and pods that retain their form (and sometimes their color) through the drying process. They can be used in arrangements for “eternity.”
All of the everlasting plants I list here are easy to grow from seed (in fact preferred to start from seed) in early Spring. If you need some guidance on how I grow plants from seed you can start with The Basics of Growing From Seed . Some everlastings also produce seeds that are easy to collect and save for the following year, making them budget friendly for both your garden and home. Below I’m sharing my favorites from this past year and some of my tips for growing them.
My Favorite Everlasting Flowers & Plants To Grow
Nigella AKA ‘love in a mist’
This gorgeous flower is a “must grow” due to it’s ease of growing, ability to attract pollinators, and prolific re-seeding habit. Furthermore, the joy continues through Winter even after the flowers fade. If you leave the flowers on the plant, they will transform into amazing seed pods (pictured below). Each pod is filled with hundreds of little seeds that you can shake out once they are dried and save for the following year. The pods make the prettiest additions to dried flower arrangements and homemade wreaths like this one.
Nigella is easy to direct sow. Once the ground warms up in Spring, sprinkle some seeds in your garden bed and rake in gently. Keep moist until the seeds sprout. Fun fact: different varieties of nigella will have different colors and shaped pods.
To collect the pods for decor, wait until the flowers have died and become papery pods. You can let them dry on the plant, or cut and hang in a bundle upside down. If you hang as a bundle, cover with a paper bag or breathable mesh bag to catch any seeds that will fall out.
Are these the same nigella seeds used for cooking? No. I had often heard about “culinary” nigella seeds and did some digging. I found these nigella sativa seeds from Adaptive Seeds that are supposedly for culinary purposes. The leaves and flowers definitely look different than the ornamental nigella that is typically grown. it is warned to not grow the different varieties together as they can cross pollinate. As with any edible you grow, do your research before consuming!
Bunny Tail Grass (lagarus ovatus)
This was such a fun cut flower garden addition! I grew bunny tail grass for the soft plumes it forms and the texture it adds to the garden. It definitely added a touch of whimsy to my cottage-style garden.
If you’ve got tough, more clay-like soil this could be a good option for you. I started my seeds in pots and transplanted into the garden, but I also found little babies popping up all over my decomposed granite path. No water, no compost, and no attention! The neglected seedlings still grew into the cutest little bunny tail grass clumps. Arguably, the plants that lived in my pampered cut flower bed did a lot better—-but it was still cool to see them flourish in drier conditions!
After you harvest the bunny tail grass, hang upside down in bunches to dry. They might develop some pollen on them, but that easily shakes off after drying.
I included bunny tail grass in my rustic holiday wreath DIY and thought it was the perfect touch!
Strawflowers (xerochrysum bracteatum)
Arguably my favorite of all everlasting blooms, strawflowers come in a large variety of colors and are simply magical! They indeed retain their color as they dry, and the petals feel like straw. Strawflowers grow easily from seeds that can be started in early Spring. They perform surprisingly well in heat.
Some harvesting tips for strawflowers: This season I experimented with different harvesting times for drying the flowers. I have found that, as they dry, strawflowers continue to open up—exposing a fibrous and delicate yellow center. If you wait until the yellow center is exposed before cutting the flowers for drying, the strawflowers can almost “overbloom” and be less than ideal for long term storage. Instead, I have preferred picking/cutting the strawflowers for drying right before they reveal their yellow centers.
To dry strawflowers, simple remove most of the leaves, bundle the stems, and hang upside down in a well-ventilated, dry, and dark place. Some gardeners actually dry only the flower heads and eventually create stems for them using floral wire. It’s really up to you!
Scabiosa AKA Pincushion Flowers
This lovely flower is also great for pollinators and can tolerate our hot summer temperatures. Scabiosa is also very popular in floral design in both flower form AND pod form (the pods are pictured below)! The “everlasting” part of scabiosas is in the pod form. They are super fun little seed balls that I’ve seen many florists use for wedding bouquets with succulents and in boutonnieres.
For some unknown reason, my scabiosa seed pods look weird this year. They are not round and stayed spiky. I don’t think this is typical of the variety I grew ( ‘fata morgana’ ) but I will probably try a different variety next year regardless because I really like the look and growth habit of scabiosa.
Start your scabiosa seeds indoors in early spring. Gently cover them with seed start mix and keep moist until they germinate. When you are ready to harvest pods, simply let the flowers expire on the plant (they transform into the pods you see below) and then harvest. Hang the bunches of stems upside down in a dark, well-ventilated area to dry comepletely.
Gomphrena (Globe Amaranth)
This adorable, button-like bloom thrives in heat and poorer soil conditions. The flowers somewhat resemble clover blooms, but come in the brightest of colors that remain as they dry.
Gomphrena flowers can be used fresh in floral arangements, but I plan to dry mine and create some wreaths and garlands for the holidays. Follow the same drying protocol as with other everlastings, but don’t pick old flowers. As the flowers are left on the plant, they become more fragile and prone to crumbling into pieces. Pick younger flowers to dry.
Check out the Fiery Sunrise Blend.
Where can I find the seeds for everlastings?
If you are interested in trying some everlasting plants in your own garden, you can find my favorite sources for buying seeds HERE and of course there are some links provided throughout the article for more direct options. Also, make sure you are subscribed to my FREE email newsletter for more fun gardening tips, reminders, and behind-the-scenes news.
Check out these projects for the home that use everlastings and other homegrown goodies: