Strawflower dying please help

(Question)

IMAG0737Hi there,

I’m really hoping you can help me identify the problem with my strawflower! It was thriving perfectly well all summer, and even as of four weeks ago it looked amazing! Then about two weeks ago, I began to notice half of the plant’s leaves browning and drooping. I assumed it was from lack of watering, so I watered it at least once a day, either in the morning or night. But one half of the plant didn’t seem to be absorbing any water. When it finally completely drooped, both leaves and flowers, I noticed the stem was hard and wood-like. I did a little nail scratch and noticed there was no green at all in the stem, so I cut that entire half off, and once I did I found the centre of the stem completely hollow! And had turned dry like wood. The other half of the plant did not seem affected until yesterday, when it started to show the same symptoms just like the first half, completely drooping overnight. I don’t know if I can save my strawflower at this point, but I just was hoping to find out the cause and any suggestions you can make to maybe start to regrow.
I live in downtown Toronto, the temperature is dropping, but I don’t know if thats the cause for this sudden decline. The area usually has full sun during the day, and the soil is just a common potting soil. I have my strawflower hanging in a pot, where it has been the entire summer. I hope you can help. I have attached very depressing looking photos to show its current terrible condition. Thank you for your help!

(Answer)

Well the interesting thing about straw flower, is that it has been described over the years under several scientific names: Xerochrysum bracteatum was previously known as Bracteantha bracteata and references to its even earlier name of Helichrysum bracteatum may still be found in many books, catalogues and even plant tags. Although X. bracteatum is its current scientific name, some references if you are looking for them may be noted by the older names. It also has a number of common names, including straw flower, paper daisy and golden everlasting. For more information on straw flower background, see the following link: http://anpsa.org.au/b-bract.html

The original plant, known as golden everlasting, hails from Australia. There, it grows as a perennial or annual shrub, sometimes with a woody stem, sometimes with an herbaceous stem. It was so popular as a cut flower, or decor for lady’s hats, and arts and crafts, it was propagated and developed further in Germany in the 1850s, and annual cultivars in many colours, from white, orange, bronze, purple, pink and red flowers, along with the natural yellow are now available. Seeds are sold in mixed seed packs.

What you have are one or several of these colourful annual cultivars. Like most annuals, it has reached the end of life, and judging by the photo, it probably would not live indoors. A month ago, it was in its prime, lots of flowers getting read to release seeds for next year. You did nothing wrong, in fact, it was well taken care of for its life.

By all accounts, propagation is fairly simple. If you want to plant the seeds you can direct sow after last frost. It is recommended that you dead head if you don’t want volunteer seedlings next season – who knows, there may be some in your pot already! In order for you to plant for next year, you can collect the seeds from the last few flowers bagging the seed heads to capture the ripening seeds. When they are dry, pick whole flower and shake them into the bag. Keep in a cool, dry place till¬† next year. Read more: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/750/#ixzz3nARPLxCf