Maintaining the ‘Statice’ Quo

This perennial statice, Limonium perezii is frost tender but tough as nails in salt air and coastal conditions.
This perennial statice, Limonium perezii is frost tender but tough as nails in salt air and coastal conditions.

“Where did you get those flowers?” my mother asked suspiciously when I presented her with a bouquet of papery dry blossoms. They were as deep blue as Egyptian lapis stone. The stems still held their heads high after the long walk home that hot summer day.

The moment she learned they had come from the neighbor’s garden Mom was on the phone. I heard mea culpas flooding the kitchen. Then she hung up to announce we would be taking them back because they were “everlastings”, and the neighbor wanted to dry them for her arrangements.

The term, everlastings, is an old one used to define a special group of plants that produce flowers that are naturally papery and quick to dry after cutting. Most importantly, they hold their color when dried. Strawflowers and yarrow are other well known examples of everlastings.
This annual statice, Limonium sinuatum, bears vivid blue flowers in climates too cold for the perennial.
This annual statice, Limonium sinuatum, bears vivid blue flowers in climates too cold for the perennial.

The stolen flowers of my youth were perennial Limonium perezii, a native of the Canary Islands. It’s also known as sea lavender because they grow in coastal conditions with a remarkable tolerance for salt air and alkaline soils. They are a staple of Southern California gardens. To grow them outside frost free areas, plant in pots filled with Black Gold All Purpose Potting Soil so you can move them under shelter or into your greenhouse/sun porch for the winter.

Annual statice is similar but a different species, Limonium sinuatum. This is a far more adaptable choice for a summer garden because it’s grown from seed each year, just like vegetable plants. While their flower heads aren’t as large as the perennial species, they are just as long lasting. Better yet, they come in different colors for a home grown source of dried statice for winter crafts.

Statice of one sort or another can be found in every flower arranger’s garden. The annuals can be grown from seed in your summer garden between your vegetable plants. For a bigger harvest, grow a whole row of them alternating with low growing lettuce or root crops.

Most seed companies offer annual statice in the original blue as well as yellow, pink and white cultivars. A single packet of mixed color seeds is all it takes to get started. They can be cut over the summer months, but if well fed with an all purpose fertilizer, you may get a second flower harvest in the fall.
Both annual and perennial statice are harvested the same way. Cut the flowers just before they open for maximum coloration. If you wait too long the flowers change to seed forming mode, and that causes the petals to fade and fall prematurely.

Always cut your plants with long stems in the cool of the morning. This will prevent them from dehydrating too quickly, which may result in wilt before you get then bundled up. Bring them indoors right away and remove any bugs, signs of disease or unwanted parts. Some folks like to spray them down with water to remove dust, then lay them out individually on paper or a towel to dry for an hour before you bind the stems. Use a rubber band keep pressure on the stems because twine loosens as the stems narrow from drying. Hang in a dark, dry, well aerated place where temperatures remain consistent.


Statice brings your summer garden indoors where the flowers never fade. They are a great crop to grow if you love flower arrangements or dried bouquets indoors. When all the flowers are gone outside, yours will remain, for everlasting color while the show flies.

statice colors
The beauty of annual statice is the many colorful varieties that add more versatility at home or in the garden.

About Maureen Gilmer

Maureen Gilmer is celebrating her 40th year in California horticulture and photojournalism as the most widely published professional in the state. She is the author of 21 books on gardening, design and the environment, is a widely published photographer, and syndicated with Tribune Content Agency. She is the weekly horticultural columnist for the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs and contributes to Desert Magazine, specializing on arid zone plants and practices for a changing climate. She works and lives in the remote high desert for firsthand observations of native species. Her latest book is The Colorful Dry Garden published by Sasquatch Books. When not writing or photographing she is out exploring the desert on her Arabian horse. She lives in Morongo Valley with her husband Jim and two rescue pit bulls. When not writing or photographing she is usually out riding her quarter horse.

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