How to Grow Strawflowers For Your Cut Flower Garden From Seed Indoors

Have you ever seen strawflowers in a flower arrangement? They are such a unique and stunning cut flower. I’ll share my tips on growing strawflowers from seed indoors, how to transplant them into the garden, and much more.

Strawflowers are one of the most unique flowers in my cutting garden.

I have a serious love affair with this most versatile cut flower. I had never even heard of or seen a strawflower until 3 years ago when I started looking through Floret Flower’s seed selection and became both curious and fascinated.

bright strawflowers in a cut flower garden

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Note: I am not a Master Gardener, but a self-taught hobby gardener who shares my opinions and what has worked for me in the garden.

Apricot strawflowers along white picket fence

Strawflower petals (they are modified leaves called bracts) are like stiff paper and hold their shape and color as well as dried flowers. These bracts serve to protect the tender flower parts within until they are ready to open and be pollinated

Strawflowers, which are members of the aster family, are heat-loving and drought-tolerant plants. Their green leaves are covered in dense hairs that protect the plant from drying out.

pomegranate strawflowers

Strawflowers are the perfect cut flower for any summer or early fall bouquet.

  • They come in a variety of colors: warm tones of yellow, orange, and red as well as pink and white.
  • Strawflowers have blooms that have a long-lasting color and need very little care or maintenance.
  • The flower heads make great additions to dried floral arrangements and potpourri.
  • Known for its everlasting papery blooms that hold their color and shape indefinitely when dried.
  • Strawflowers can be used in floral bouquets either fresh or dried.
  • They are great attractors to pollinators.

Find more posts about growing a cut flower garden.

strawflower seeds

When starting strawflower seeds indoors, sow seeds in trays 6-8 weeks before the last frost of the season.

If you sow the seeds earlier than the recommended time frame, the seedlings will quickly outgrow their pots before the weather has warmed enough to put them out into the garden.

Strawflowers can also be sown directly in the ground as soon as the threat of freezing has passed.


Seed Starting Supplies

Check out my favorite supplies and tools for starting seeds indoors. Whether you’re looking for grow lights or a seed starting mix, you’ll find what I use in my own greenhouse.

growing seeds indoors
empty 72-cell tray in greenhouse

Seed-starting containers should be clean and have drainage holes. For several container options, you can read my blog post Supplies Needed for Seed Starting

I use cell trays and plastic pots for my seed containers.

More information regarding how to clean your used containers can be found in my post Seed Starting 101 – Growing a Cut Flower Garden Series.

72-cell tray filled with seed starting mix

Use a quality seed starter potting mix when sowing your strawflower seeds. Before adding it to the container, the soil should be moistened until it’s thoroughly damp but not soaking wet.

Fill the container to the top with soil. As you go, tap firmly against the table or shelf to make sure the soil settles and to prevent air pockets in the containers.

Benefits of Using a Seed Starting Mix

  • Helps the seeds to germinate quickly
  • Holds the moisture in the container
  • Allows the roots to penetrate down into the garden soil quickly

You can make the mix go even further by filling the bottom half of the container with regular potting soil and then filling the rest of it with the seed starting mix, where the seeds are going to be placed.

labeling containers

Label the container with the name of the variety of plants and the date planted.

making holes to place cosmos seeds in soil

Sow 2 seeds per container or cell by creating a 1-half-inch hole into the soil, in 2 opposite corners. You can use a pencil, dibbler, or even your finger to make a hole.

Strawflower seeds require light to germinate. Press seeds lightly into the soil, but don’t cover them. Seedlings should begin to appear in seven to 10 days.

drainage tray

After sowing the flower seeds, set the container in a drainage tray with an inch of water in the bottom, removing once the soil surface is evenly moist. It’s important not to let the container sit in the water for more than an hour.

supplies for seed starting

Place the container on a heated mat or in a warm corner of your house, and cover it with a clear plastic dome. This will help speed up the seed-starting germination process.

Keep the strawflower seeds in a light and bright space such as a greenhouse or sunroom. If you don’t have that option, keep the seedlings under a grow light that is on for 16 hours a day.

Continue to check the soil moistness every 2-3 days. Bottom water again as needed.

supplies for seed starting

Check the container daily. Once the seeds have germinated and the sprouts are visible, remove the clear dome lid and remove the seedlings from the heated mat.


Check the strawflower seedlings daily to make sure that the soil doesn’t dry out.

The very first leaves that appear on the plant are called cotyledons. Be sure to bottom water your seedlings until you see the first real leaves that appear after the cotyledons.

Once those second sets of leaves appear, water with a gentle spray from a watering can or hose when needed, usually every 1-2 days.

If your seedlings start to outgrow their containers before they’re ready to be planted outdoors, you’ll need to transplant them into a larger container while still growing inside. It’s important to give the roots more room to grow.

hardening off seedlings outdoors

After all danger of frost has passed, you can begin “hardening off” your plants before transplanting them into the garden. 

Don’t skip this process! Your plants will go into shock by the sudden change in temperature.

Set the containers in a sheltered spot outdoors, increasing the amount of time they spend outside each day, over a week or two. I usually start with 2-3 hours the first day.

To see more on hardening off your plants, click HERE.

raised bed

Strawflowers do well in most soils as long as it is well-draining.

Add mulch to the bed before planting to help retain soil moisture and even soil temperatures.

transplanting cosmos seeds to the garden

Once the strawflower plants are acclimated to the extreme temperatures, transplant the seed starts to the garden once the threat of frost has passed.

Space your plants out every 12 inches to make sure your plants have enough room to grow with plenty of airflow.

Strawflowers thrive in full sun which helps to prevent weak stems. They can tolerate part shade but they won’t bloom as well.

Add an overline text

‘Growing a Cut Flower Garden’ Series

These flowers are drought-tolerant but don’t let them dry out in an extended period of drought.

Create a plan to make sure your strawflowers will be watered regularly in the garden. I set up soaker hoses in the raised beds as soon as they’ve been transplanted to their new home in the garden.

Strawflowers don’t need to be pruned regularly. However, deadheading the plant will keep the flowers blooming.

Once in the ground, strawflowers will grow quickly, so be sure to stake them early, while they are still young.

Cut strawflowers when 3-4 sets of bracts (petals) are open but before they are pollinated. If you give the stem a wiggle and it remains upright, it is ready to harvest.

Cut the stem leaving 4-5 side shoots below. Strip leaves on the stem before placing them in water. 

Fresh flowers will last a week in the vase. Add flower preservatives to the water.

Harvest the strawflowers when only 2-3 bracts have unfurled and have no pollen visible, To dry, remove the foliage and hang upside down in a warm, dark place until firm.

The bracts will continue to open as they dry. You can also use a fan to make the drying process faster.

To save seeds for next year’s cutting garden, leave the largest and best-looking blooms on the plant at the end of the season. 

The center of the bloom elongates and forms dandelion-like parachutes for each seed as it dries. When lifting the parachutes, the small dark seeds should be at the base of the flower.


Garden Supplies and Tools

Check out my favorite garden supplies and tools for the growing season. Whether you’re looking for potting soil or deer repellent, you’ll find what I use in my own garden.

Do you grow strawflowers or plan to add them to your garden this season? If so, what are your favorite varieties?

If you have any questions or additional suggestions, please share them in the comments below. And be sure to share this blog post link with anyone who may find these gardening tips useful.

Until next time,

Happy Gardening!

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  1. Hi,

    Your information was done very well.

    This is my first time growing them from seed. Once they have reached about 3 inches they seem to just start falling over. Is this normal for this flower as I have them under lights that are close and they are still falling over as top heavy.

    Is this normal for this flower?
    Appreciate your response. Thank you,

    1. Thanks for your question Teresa. I’ve had issues with zinnias and cosmos falling over in the past but not strawflowers. Fanning plants for about 10 minutes or so several times a day helps them develop stronger stems. Overwatering plants actually drowns them by depriving the roots of air. When the roots don’t get air, the leaves hang down and the stems droop. Did you start them with seed starting mix or potting soil? Email me at kim@shiplapandshells.com and attach a picture so I can look at them and see if I can help in any way.

  2. great pictures, thanks! when you collect seeds are they true to color? If you save seeds from pink strawflowers will they produce more pink strawflowers?


    1. So far I would say yes. This will be the first year that I am growing a mix of a few varieties I grew in the garden last year. They are growing faster and bigger than the seeds I bought. Can’t wait to see how they turn out.

  3. Strawflowers were such stars in my garden last year! I had no idea when I planted them how much I was going to fall in love with them!! I have so many dried out down in my studio just waiting for me to do something with them.

    1. I can’t even believe more people don’t talk about strawflowers more. I didn’t even know what they were a few years ago. They are so easy to grow and I do love them dried.

  4. I forgot to mention I’m excited to share your post with my followers this weekend for my Sunday round up From My Neck of the Woods!

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