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Starflowers...dried they look like little space satellites.

Starflowers . . . dried they look like little space satellites

Most interesting when dried, starflower (Scabiosa stellata) produces striking seed heads that look like miniature space satellites. Planted in spring or early summer, seed of this annual will produce seed heads for harvesting and drying by fall. (Desert gardeners should plant right away, or wait until next spring.)

Choose a sunny spot with rich, fast-draining soil. If needed, work in organic amendments such as compost or leafmold before planting. Sow seed about 1/4 inch deep and, to encourage germination, keep seedbeds evenly moist. Seedlings should emerge in 12 to 21 days. When they are at least 1 inch tall, thin them to about 18 inches apart.

In late summer, plants will send up stiff, 2-foot-tall stems topped with unremarkable lavender-pink blooms. Allow these to mature until all the petals fall off. Pick immediately after last petals drop, when seed heads are still greenish brown. At this point, some gardeners spray them lightly with hair spray or clear acrylic to reduce breakage.

With rubber bands, tie small bunches at the base of their stems, then hang them upside-down in a well-ventilated, protected spot to dry. Or dry stems upright in a vase. When seed heads have dried to a tannish brown color, they're ready to use in arrangements.

Few nurseries carry the seed, but you can order it from W. Atlee Burpee Co., 300 Park Ave., Warminster, Pa. 18991. Cost is $1.50 for a packet, or $2.50 for two. Add $1 for shipping. (In California, also add sales tax.)

Photo: Seed heads of starflower, picked just after petals fall, make excellent dried flowers
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Jun 1, 1986
Words:273
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