Turn dried blooms into festive decorations
If you aren’t growing gomphrena (also known as “globe amaranth”), you need to be. The drought-tolerant annual thrives in hot, humid weather. And its flower heads have the magical ability to maintain their color—whether magenta, lavender, red, white, or orange—when dried.
You can simply pop stems into vases, sans water, for year-round displays, or get a little crafty. Here, learn how to harvest and dry gomphrena. Then find how-tos for making a simple bouquet (the perfect surcee, filled with seeds for planting next season), wreath, and garland.
Flowers can be clipped for drying at any point, but during early summer, they are smaller and less fragile—thus easier to craft with. They grow larger and begin to elongate toward summer’s end; that’s the ideal time to harvest if you want to create bouquets rich with viable seeds.
Always cut blooms in the morning, and drop them immediately into a bucket of water. When you’re finished harvesting, remove the leaves from the stems and bundle the stems together, securing them with a rubber band (they’ll shrink as they lose water, so twine won’t work).
For the best results, hang your gomphrena upside-down in a cool, dry place with good airflow. Keep it away from direct sunlight, which will fade the bright colors. Your flowers will be ready for crafting in about a month—they’ll feel light and rigid to the touch.
More than just a pretty gift, these beribboned bundles yield seeds for planting next spring
- Cut stems of dried gomphrena. While a single-species posy makes an impact, you could add dried statice or celosia flowers or use okra, poppy, or sesame seed pods.
- Arrange as you would a fresh bouquet. Tie with decorative ribbon.
- If desired, add a tag with instructions for growing gomphrena from seed (see below).
A VIBRANT WREATH
Hang this accent on a covered front porch or an interior door calling for a pop of color
- Buy a Styrofoam wreath form (ours is 12 inches), available at craft stores.
- Remove dried flower heads from stems.
- Starting on the front of the wreath and working down the sides, apply hot glue to each flower and adhere it to the form. Leave the back exposed so it will lay flush against the door.
- For easy hanging, loop ribbon (we used a 1½-inch grosgrain) around the top of the wreath and tie in a knot.
Dress up a doorway or use this decoration as a table runner for your next party
- Remove flower heads from stems.
- Cut cording or twine to desired length.
- Use hot glue to attach seed heads to the cording in groups of three, spaced about 1½ inches apart.
- On each end, create a larger bundle of flowers by building on a grouping of three.
How to Grow
Gomphrena is easily raised from seed. Follow the steps below or check a local nursery for potted transplants
- Select a nutrient-rich, weed-free site that has full sun and well-draining soil.
- Directly sow seeds at 1/4-inch depth. Planting in July will yield a fall crop. For a summer show, plant in spring, two to four weeks after the danger of frost has passed.
- Water seeds well to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.
- Seedlings emerge after seven to 14 days. Thin the seedlings, leaving one plant per six to eight inches.