Flannel flower, a common name applied to several herbaceous plants of the Australian genus Actinotus, belonging to the carrot family.
It is a short-lived perennial, living up to four years in its natural environment. It grows in full sun or semi-shade. They flower between late September and early December.
Of the 15 species of the genus, the best known and one of the most attractive, is the Sydney or Eastern Flannel Flower, A. helianthi, which ranges from the far south-east of NSW into south Queensland, and as far north as the sandstone tablelands inland from Rockhampton.
It is an erect subshrub, up to a metre tall, with rather brittle stems and soft silver-grey leaves having a dense covering of pale woolly hairs. The daisy-like or star-shaped flowers are up to 8 centimetres across with an outer ring of long cream petals (bracts) which are flannel-like in texture.
Seeds can be sown in warm areas or in a glasshouse at any time. In frost prone areas sow when danger of frost is over.
Sow seeds in pot or seed tray on free-draining soil, on the surface, compress lightly, cover with a light layer of sand. Place in warm, shady position to germinate (4-22 weeks, or more).
Transplant when 7-1/2 cm high. Grow in full sun, in well-drained soil, using a soil mix with a high proportion of coarse sand (it prefers poor, sandy soil mixed with chunky sandstone).
It is excellent for growing in gardens or pots on a sunny, sheltered terrace.
Water in well, water regularly around the roots until established, weekly in dry weather. Avoid wetting the foliage to minimise possible fungal problems.
The shallow root system is very fragile, so do not over-water or let seedlings dry out.
Care should be taken when weeding around the base of the plants.
Occasional light applications of slow release organic fertiliser or half-strength liquid fertiliser. Protect from slugs and snails.
Tip pruning after flowering is advised to create a bushier plant.
Very good cut flowers that last well.
Back to Australian Flora page.