15 Pretty Annuals and How to Dry Them

Learn which flowers and grasses dry easily, along with harvest and drying tips.
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Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena)

Airy blooms in shades of blue perch atop 12- to 18-inch stems on this self-sowing annual. Love-in-a-mist makes a lovely cut flower for fresh bouquets, or wait for round, maroon striped seedpods to form for dried arrangements. Harvest seedpods for drying when they feel papery and firm to the touch. If left too long on plants, pretty maroon tints fade. Dry pods upright or hang upside down.

Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena haageana)

These lollipop flowers have a papery feel and come in a variety of hues, including orange, magenta, lavender and white. Gomphrena reaches 12 to 18 inches tall and are heat- and drought-tolerant once established. Pick flowers for drying when they’re at peak color and before the outermost bracts start to fade. If picked too late, flower heads shatter when dry. Hang upside down in bunches to dry.

Celosia ‘Flamingo Feather’ (Celosia spicata 'Flamingo Feather')

Also known as wheat celosia, 'Flamingo Feather' has unusual spiky flowers in shades of pink or purple with a papery feel. Plants branch freely on stems 24 to 30 inches tall, producing baskets of blooms from midsummer to fall. Cut flowers for drying when they’re fully colored, before any bracts fade to silver. Hang upside down in bunches to dry.

Cornflower ‘Classic Fantastic’ (Centaurea cyanus 'Classic Fantastic')

This early-season bloomer makes a perfect partner for corn poppy. Also known as bachelor’s buttons, cornflower is a self-sowing annual that just can’t stop forming flowers. You’ll have plenty for picking and bringing indoors. This variety boasts a blend of blue and silver shades.

'Sundaze Blaze' Strawflower (Bracteantha hybrid)

Papery flower petals dry in a snap on this heat- and drought-tolerant annual. This variety reaches 10 to 12 inches tall, but other types grow to as high as 5 feet. Harvest flowers for drying when the outermost layer of petals has opened and before the flower center is showing. Hang stems upside down to dry blooms, or dry upright after slipping floral wire into stems.

Starflower (Scabiosa stellata)

Starflower opens unusual spherical flower heads in pale pink and lavender shades on plants 20 inches tall. Flower petals drop to reveal a papery cup. Harvest stems to dry as last petals fall. Avoid picking too soon or flower heads will shrivel; pick too late, and they’ll shatter. Protect heads by spraying with an aerosol glue.

Marigold Signet 'Tangerine Gem' (Tagetes tenuifolia 'Tangerine Gem')

Warm orange blooms perch atop ferny foliage on this signet marigold. Plants grow 8 inches tall and are a butterfly magnet in the garden. These flowers make a bright addition to dried arrangements. Harvest blossoms for drying as soon as they’re fully open. Dry individual blooms in silica gel or air dry by hanging upside down in bunches.

Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis)

Eye-catching green bells form along 2-foot-tall, minty-scented stems. Harvest when bells are nearly fully opened; they open more after picking. If you can see the small white or lavender true bloom in the center of the bell, you’re picking too late. Hang stems upside down in bunches to dry. Handle carefully; stems have small thorns. Dried blooms are fragile and easily shatter, use care when working with them.

English Statice (Limonium sinuatum)

Statice has lovely papery bracts in a rainbow of hues, including purple, pink, blue, white and rose. Plants grow to 18 inches tall in average garden soil. Harvest stems when papery bracts are fully colored. If you can see small white flowers peeking from bracts, you’re picking too late. Hang stems upside down in bunches to dry. Image courtesy of HGTVGardens community member Brie Mikesell

Hare’s Tail (Lagurus ovatus)

Annual grasses make a wonderful addition to dried arrangements. Hare’s tail grows 12 to 18 inches high. Fluffy seedheads appear in summer and linger on plants into fall. Pick seedheads for drying as soon as they are fully colored. If you wait too late, they’ll shatter after drying. This grass can be invasive in some regions; clip seedheads before they shatter in the garden to avoid self-sowing.

Annual Salvia (Salvia viridis)

Grow this striking salvia for its eye-catching papery blooms that look fantastic in the garden or indoors. Deer dislike this beauty, so it’s a good choice for partnering with plants they love, like roses. Give this salvia a sunny to partly-shaded spot. Plants reach 18 to 24 inches tall.

Creeping Zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens)

Count on creeping zinnia to add an airy element to fresh-from-the-garden bouquets. This is a short grower, reaching only 6 to 10 inches high, but stems trail to 24 inches, creating ample opportunities for snipping blooms. Flowers resemble miniature black-eyed Susans. This heirloom hails from Mexico and was introduced to gardens in 1798.

Breadseed Poppy (Papaver somniferum)

Also known as opium poppy, this beautiful bloomer opens cup-shaped flowers from spring into summer. Silky-petalled blossoms open in a rainbow of hues, including red, purple, orange and white. Plants vary in height from 20 to 36 inches tall. Flowers fade to form chubby, round seed pods. Mature pods are lavender-gray and hard. Harvest when pores open. Shake seeds into a container and save for baking.

Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ (Salvia longispicata x farinacea)

Watch for deep purple-blue flowers on this annual salvia. Plants grow 3 to 4 feet tall and flower continuously from summer until frost, providing plenty of stems for dried bouquets. Harvest flowers for drying when a few blooms on each stem are fully open. If you wait until the whole stem is wide open, blossoms shatter after drying. Hang stems upside down in bunches to dry.

Quaking Grass (Briza maxima)

Stems of quaking grass add shimmering movement to the garden or dried arrangements. Plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall and form seedheads in midsummer. Harvest as soon as seedheads are green. Be sure to harvest all seed heads early or they'll shatter after drying. Hang the stems upside down in bunches to dry.

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