Don't Forget These!

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Statice Update! We've Got Limonium Sinuatum Seeds!

Nope, that wasn't an egregious misspelling—it's a horrible pun. Would you expect anything else from our gardening blog? You shouldn't! Our dog Leah is the managing editor...but she's been fired as our social media director thanks to all her posts protesting her annual rabies vaccinations.

We'd risk subjecting you to endless dog memes and anti-cat propaganda to get the word out about Limonium sinuatum. Fresh and dried statice is famous among floral designers and underappreciated in backyard gardens. If grown as an annual, statice thrives in most zones, bursting with showy, exotic purple blooms in mid-summer. It may look like it belongs in lush, tropical biomes, but it's actually a drought tolerant plant that prefers cooler temperatures. It's the perfect plant if you live on the coast, where sandy soils don't easily hold moisture, or you're gardening in the mountains on loose, rocky soil.

Are you all about instant gratification? Tinder isn't the answer. Under the right conditions, statice seeds germinate faster than the majority of our seed varieties, with a maturity rate that puts most hook-up prospects to shame!

Native range, history, and medicinal uses

Limonium sinuatum is native to the Mediterranean region, including coastal North Africa, western Asia, and southern Europe. Here in the New World, it easily naturalized in brackish coastal marshes, and—paradoxically—dry open areas on the West Coast. The Fyre Festival organizers could have significantly improved their wasteland venue if they'd planted a ton of statice. It's a member of the leadwort (Plumbaginaceae) family, a name that undersells its highly-regarded ornamental value.

Limonium is Greek for "meadow," and sinuatum means "with wavy margins." This species has several "usernames," including:

  • Forever flower
  • Notch-leaf
  • Marsh rosemary
  • Sea lavender
  • Sea pink
  • Wavyleaf sea lavender
  • Ink root

You can add "notch leaf" before most of these names, and garden nerds will know what you're talking about. The association with lavender is likely due to the plant's colors, and rosemary blooms are tiny and bell-shaped, similar to statice's bracts. In the Victorian traditional "language of flowers," statice is associated with "remembrance."

The plant's been a popular European cottage garden species and cut flower since the 18th century. Long before then, herbalists harvested its large, fleshy, dark roots to make dyes and inks, and as injections, salves, powders, and oral consumables for a variety of medicinal purposes. Stop uploading your lunch to Snapchat, and maybe forget about eating it anytime soon. Here are the not-so-lovely ailments that statice is reputed to treat:

  • Anal and uterine prolapse
  • Diarrhea
  • Diphtheria
  • Dysentery
  • Eye irritations
  • Gonorrhea (Today, we learned what "gleet" is).
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Mouth sores
  • Strep throat

It was most useful for easing symptoms, rather than treating the actual issues. The root's astringent properties and high salinity were likely a contributing factor to its effectiveness as a medicinal herb. It should go without saying that if you suspect you have any of the above illnesses, get thee to a doctor, post haste; once you're on the right antibiotics and advanced treatments, you can slather yourself in poultices and add tinctures to your mead or mulled wine.

Statice in the garden

Status is an upright, somewhat clumping plant that when mature, has a shrubby appearance. Its mostly-bare stems have a "winged" appearance, meaning they have flat blades on either side of the stem itself. The 4" to 6" basal leaves are long and deeply-lobed, with wavy edges. Small, narrow leaves along the nodules aren't that noticeable.

Most of the statice's height is from the stems, on top of which are crested flower clusters (panicles). From these, colorful, cupped calyces (sometimes referred to as bracts) protect tiny white flower corollas. The bloom period refers to the latter; once the corollas drop away, the papery calyces remain. These are what make statice ideal dried flowers, and why they last for several weeks as fresh-cut floral specimens.

Garden uses

These are among the most attractive flowering plants that thrive in seaside landscaping and sunny mountain retreats, especially since they don't need much care or irrigation in these cool climates. How many social media influencers will fly into Burning Man from Aspen, Park City, or Huntington Beach with no worries about their picture-perfect gardens? And what happened to Burning Man being all about rugged self-reliance and getting dusty, by the way?

Solitary statice plants are ideal rock gardens and xeriscape specimens. From a distance, their panicles have a soft, foamy appearance, but we like to plant them where you can enjoy them up close. Use them as border plantings, or in broad and deep containers.

If you live where the summer temperatures are high for long periods, you'll want to grow them where you can water them more frequently, preferably on a drip irrigation system.

The short attention span details

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: Herbaceous perennial in 8 to 10; grown as an annual everywhere else.
  • Sunlight Preferences: Full sun. Shade causes floppy plants with less vigorous bloom.
  • Moisture Requirements: Drought tolerant; let the soil dry out between watering. Deep watering at ground level approx. 3x/month.
  • Soil Preferences: Well-drained, light (sandy to loamy) soil with a pH between 6.0 to 6.5. Tolerates salty residue from seaside environments.
  • Plant Height: 32"
  • Plant Width: 10"
  • Growth Habit: Upright from a basal rosette.
  • Bloom Period: June through July, but the purple bracts remain long after the true flowers are gone, and foliage lasts until frost.
  • Maturity Rate: Medium to fast.

Maintenance

A good layer of mulch will help moderate soil temperatures when the weather gets hot, possibly extending the flowering time. Don't forget, the tiny white corollas drop off, but the papery purple bracts stay put regardless of irrigation. Deadheading is actually counterproductive.

We suggest you hold off on the fertilizer. If you incorporated a little aged compost into the soil upon planting, that's all they need; too much nitrogen will cause the plants to grow too tall, become topheavy, and lodge (fall over).

Pests and diseases

Most fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases can be kept at bay if your plants have good air circulation, the right soil structure, and appropriate irrigation. Overfeeding, overwatering, and wet foliage can cause all hell to break loose, so this plant lets the lazy, neglectful gardener shine.

Penn State has a comprehensive chart of the ills that befall Limonium sinuatum, but don't freak out; any time crops are grown on a commercial, monocultural scale (as are statice for the floral industry) plants become more vulnerable to disease. Backyard breakouts are rarely severe if they occur at all.

Statice is deer- and bunny- resistant, and rarely has any problems with insect or invertebrate pests.

Growing statice from seed

Nurseries rarely carry statice because their large, fleshy roots don't handle transplanting all that well. You can start them indoors, though, if you use tall, wide peat pots. But since statice germinates and matures relatively quickly, there's little point in going through the hassle.

Short season gardeners (Alaskans and Antarctic penguins, we're looking at you) might start them early in well-lit, heated greenhouses or sun rooms if they grow statice as container plants, but we recommend 12 to 16 hours of strong artificial lighting once seedlings have emerged, followed by 8 to 12 hours of darkness. When they've grown 4 to 6 basal leaves, harden them off to transition them from warm indoor temperatures to still-cool spring weather. Plant seedlings, peat pots and all, into moist soil and continue watering until they're well-established.

  • Seed Treatment: None required.
  • When to Plant Outdoors: Immediately after the last spring frost.
  • When to Plant Indoors: 6 to 8 weeks before last spring frost.
  • Seed Depth: 1/4"; darkness required.
  • Seed Spacing: 12" to 18"; air circulation is essential.
  • Days to Germination: 7 to 14 days at 70 to 75°F.

Before growing statice from seed, prepare the soil by digging a small amount of aged compost (1.5" to 2", depending on soil compaction and richness) into the top 10 inches of bedding. Or not; as long as the soil is loose and sufficiently deep, your plants will be fine. Compost will help stabilize excessively sandy soil, and gardening sand will balance clay-like, compacted soil or garden patches that tend to hold a lot of moisture.

Harvesting statice for fresh and dried floral displays

Cut the stems just above the basal rosettes when the flowers are at 75% bloom, and immediately put them in lukewarm water. Use a scalpel or razor blade to remove the foliage and stem "wings" for longer-lasting fresh flowers.

Suspend statice bunches in a cool, dry room with good air circulation if you want long-lasting dried flowers. They'll fade in direct sunlight, but if handled with care you can enjoy them for many months, or even years.

Follow Seed Needs!

Do you have any questions about our products? Want to share your gardening pics? Contact us by phone or e-mail, or follow our social media feeds through the link icons on this page. We're always showing off our latest seed products, but you'll find the obligatory "cute animal" photos from time to time and news about special promotions and end-of-season sales.

By the way, if you do decide to share your garden photos, remember: Don't wash the dirt off your face or put on makeup for your statice-patch selfies! Nobody (and no garden) is perfect. Even with the best seeds and intentions, your goal isn't to be the next Martha Stewart, and your photos don't need to be candidates for Sunset Magazine's website. You have lives outside your garden gate! What's important is whether gardening brings you joy. Social media is great for staying in touch, but the pressure to project unrealistic, fairy tale accounts of our lives ain't all that healthy.

But please, don't share your before-and-after hemorrhoid treatment pics.
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