Seeing once, this plant cannot be confused with anything else. On high stems, amusing yellow spherical inflorescences swing, with color and texture reminiscent of tennis balls, albeit much smaller in size. They can be seen more often in exotic flower arrangements than as an element of garden design. But why not try to grow this miracle in the garden ?!
Spherical craspedia (Craspedia globosa) - a perennial herb, belongs to the Asteraceae family (Compositae). Originally from the flat regions of Australia, where it chooses fairly humid places, but at the same time it has adapted well to periods of drought.
Leaves are gramineous, linear, mainly basal. They, as well as the bases of the stems, have a dense silvery-gray soft pubescence. Fine hairs trap dew droplets and collect them in the center of the rosette, thus saving the plant from drought. Although, of course, a deep taproot with several thick superficial branches helps.
Inflorescences are capitate, up to 3-3.5 cm in diameter, densely set with small yellow tubular flowers with a small five-part corolla limb. The heads are complex, collected from 50-200 smaller inflorescences, consisting of 3-6 flowers!
The inflorescences are located on the tops of simple (rarely branched in two from the bottom) silvery-green stems 50-100 cm tall. When dry, the hollow stems become woody and very strong, straw-colored, together with the balls of inflorescences similar to "drum sticks". Not surprisingly, this name stuck to the plant as an everyday plant (Drumsticks). So this plant is not only "sports", but also "musical".
And the name Craspedia comes from the Greek word craspedon - "framing", indicating the feathery colorless bristles surrounding the achene fruits in the heads of the inflorescences. Achenes in craspedia are spherical wedge-shaped, small, there are about 1500 of them per 1 g. A tuft of long feathery hairs makes them look like feathers.
Now from the Craspedia clan (Craspedia) distinguish an independent genus Pycnosorus, which includes this cute plant under a new name - Pycnosorus globosus... But more often it is still called craspedia.
Craspedia varieties are few in number and are hardly distinguishable from each other by the shade of the inflorescences and the height of the plants. They usually have a rosette of basal leaves and simple, unbranched, leafless stems. Most often there are two varieties:
Goldstick (Goldstick) - 45-60 cm high;
Trommelstok (Trommelstock) - up to 60 cm in height.
Growing Craspedia from seeds
Craspedia is winter-hardy only up to -12 ° C, therefore it is grown as an annual in the temperate zone. Before flowering, a long growing season is required, about 6 months, in this regard, it must be sown early, through seedlings. Seeds are sown in late February - early March, preferably in individual containers (because of the taproot system).
Sometimes the seeds of the plant can be found in the composition of imported mixtures of dried flowers. In order for craspedia to bloom, they should be sown at the same early date.
The seeds are germinated at a temperature of + 18 + 22 ° C, slightly embedded in the ground, at a constant moderate humidity. It is better to germinate in the light (it is believed that the seeds of craspedia need at least a little light for germination). Seedlings usually appear in 1-2 weeks. After the development of the first true leaves, the temperature is reduced to + 18 + 20 ° C and the humidity is reduced. During the development of seedlings, the temperature should not be allowed to drop below + 18 ° C, otherwise growth inhibition and yellowing of seedlings will occur.
The plant is light-requiring, therefore additional lighting is required for good development of seedlings.
Landing in open ground
Craspedia seedlings are planted in open ground after preliminary hardening at the end of May. It does not withstand subzero temperatures, therefore, if there is a threat of night frosts, it must be protected with a non-woven covering material.
Choose an open, sunny place for landing. Craspedia can grow on sandy loam and loam, gravel soils, from slightly acidic to alkaline (pH 6.1-7.8). It does not tolerate only acidic and infertile soils. It grows best on fertilized and well-drained plants. Plants are planted at a distance of 20-25 cm.
Caring for craspedia
Caring for craspedia is simple, it consists in weeding, mineral dressing (3 times per season), watering. Despite the drought tolerance of adult plants, they develop better and bloom at constant moderate humidity. Young plants especially need watering. But stagnation of water is categorically unacceptable. But in general, the plant is unpretentious, not affected by pests and diseases.
If the summer is cold, the development of craspedia can be suspended, and with a strong lack of heat, sometimes there is a complete lack of flowering. If the weather conditions are favorable, craspedia blooms in August and remains decorative in September.
Spherical craspedia is a short-day plant, so its flowering outdoors begins late, with a decrease in the length of daylight hours. This property is used in industrial floriculture for the massive year-round cultivation of cuttings in greenhouses. The planting density is much higher - 7-15 cm between plants.
Using craspedia in garden design
Spherical craspedia has been cultivated relatively recently, from the end of the last century. In our gardens, it is rare, and landscape designers who work more with perennials pay little attention to it.
But its original, textured ball flowers can diversify the usual and poor assortment of plants blooming in late summer and autumn. In height, it fits the middle plan of flower beds. In annual flower beds, its fancy heads will not be lost among the red flowers or among the azure spikelets of mealy salvia, which will make a wonderful pair of craspedia.
In a mixborder, its color will be in harmony with the yellow centers of daisies, nivyaniks, or white yarrows. It's a great pair with lavender. An infinite number of combinations are possible with decorative deciduous plants, both green and purple-leaved. Imagine how interesting the craspedia will "shoot" between the hosts, which will cover their ankle stalks with their wide leaves. It is convenient to fill with craspedia in mixborders the places vacated, for example, with the fading of decorative onions or other bulbous plants.
Craspedia in a bouquet
Craspedia inflorescences are used for cutting (see Craspedia). You need to cut them off when all the flowers have opened, and the inflorescence is completely colored yellow. Fresh cut stands in water for 5-7 days, and in the cool and with the use of dressing for cut flowers - up to 2 weeks. In addition, craspedia is a wonderful dried flower and a material for winter bouquets. For drying, the cut bundles are hung upside down in a dark, dry and well-ventilated area (for example, in the attic).
The florists appreciated the originality of the craspedia. The industrial floriculture supplies both live cut and dried flowers (natural yellow, or colored red, orange, cyan, blue, purple). But the most beloved by florists is still yellow, which is considered a fashionable material for wedding bouquets and boutonnieres. Craspedia is universal, it can play the role of the main element of the floristic composition, and serve as just a small addition. It is considered an appropriate gift not only for a woman, but also for a man. They loved her and even invented a meaning for her, as in the language of flowers - she means "Good health".
So, by allocating space in your garden for kraspedia, you can also put this heartfelt wish into your own grown flower offering.