Dying Strawflowers


The leaves on my strawflowers are all turning brown and when i cut the plant in half I discovered the stem is hollow and woody. The plants only had 1 or 2 strawflowers each and now, mid-summer, are all dying. I read another gardener had the same question but her plant was inside in a pot and the response was that her plant was too old and was taking its natural course. My seeds were fresh from Johnny’s and i planted them after frost in my raised beds…so good drainage. I do put chicken poop in my garden in early spring and work it in, most things love it…could it be too much for my strawflowers? i’m bummed, was planning on dried flower arrangements for gifts.


Thank you for contacting the Toronto master gardeners with your inquiry.

We know how devastating it is to see your favourite plant succumb to disease. Strawflower is an Australian native, which provides great colour in the garden and offers something a little different instead the usual annuals. They belong to the Asteraceae family and their common names refer to the papery, dry bracts, which surround the flowers.

These plants require full sun and even though they can take a range of soils, they last longer in fertile soil with good drainage. The soil should be kept on the dry side and only watered when the soil is dry two inches below the surface of the soil, they will not tolerate wet feet. Could it be that you have overwatered the plants?

Strawflower dying please help, a previously archived question list the same symptoms that you are seeing in your plants. Even though the plant in the post is a potted indoor plant it could be that your plants are also coming to an end of their growing life.

However, there are a number of diseases, which can affect this plant. Have you noticed leaf spots with downy white or gray patches on the lower leaf surface? It could be your plant is suffering from powdery mildew.

It could be that your plant is suffering from a type of leaf blight. Have you noticed water soaked spots on the leaves? These spots might appear white at first, then change colour from gray to brown eventually covering most of the leaf and causing it to wilt. These are the first symptoms of gray mold, caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea.

Strawflower (Helichrysum) gives a detailed list of problems along with their physical characteristics that may affect the strawflower plant and also discusses  their control.