Helichrysum (Strawflower, Everlasting) is a genus comprising 600 species of flowering plants in the sunflower family Asteraceae, native to Africa, Madagascar, Australasia and Eurasia. The genus name Helichrysum is derived from the Greek word Helisso (to turn around) and chrysos(gold).
Helichrysum is an annnual, herbaceous or evergreen perennial, or shrub, growing to 60-90 cm tall. The leaves are oblong to lanceolate, flat and pubescent on both sides. The flowers come in all colors, except blue. Helichrysum can be grown in containers, hanging baskets, in beds and borders. Several species are grown as ornamental plants, and for dried flowers. When cut young and dried, the open flowers and stalks preserve their shapes and flowers for a long time.
Helichrysum petiolare (Licorice plant, Silver-bush Everlasting Flower, Trailing Dusty-miller) is native to South Africa and naturalized to Portugal and the United States of America. It can grow to 1 m high and across and is often included in hanging baskets for its trailing stems, which are covered with small grey-green leaves. This is an evergreen shrub, but is tender and usually treated as an annual. This species is cultivated as a foliage plant and has been listed as a weed in the state of California. The essential oil has anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Helichrysum 'Schweffellicht' ('Sulphur Light'), 40 x 30 cm, provides a long-lasting interest. It has white woolly foliage and bears clusters of tiny, orange, daisy-like flowers in mid- to late summer.
Plant Helichrysum in full sun, in well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil. Propagation is by seed in spring; divide in spring ; or semi-ripe cuttings in summer. Helichrysum is usually trouble-free but beware of fungal disease like mildew.