Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius

The primary time I found the blazingly cheery safflower was once I visited my florist pal Gayle at her Mill Valley atelier, Bloomingayles. Each recent and dried safflowers had been artfully added to wreaths and flower preparations, the clusters popping with sunny brightness. Was this the identical plant used to make safflower oil? The flower was method cuter than I anticipated. I instantly wished to develop my very own so I might harvest the orange flowers for recent and dried bouquets.

Please preserve studying to study extra about this cheerful and helpful annual—and its many makes use of.

Pictures by Kier Holmes.

Above: ‘Zanzibar’ is a simple to develop selection with sturdy, straight stems making it good for flower preparations. Additionally it’s practically thornless for a pain-free harvest. Grows to three toes and hardy to USDA ZONES 3-9.

Safflower prevailed in historic Egypt as a significant crop, later migrating to historic Greece, then to China, and even to Spain. It was used for hundreds of years to dye materials, to brew tea, or to taste dishes. I like the truth that safflower makes a wonderful—and far more reasonably priced—saffron substitute in cooking, and due to its uncanny resemblance to dear saffron, was nicknamed “poor man’s saffron.” The one snag, although, is that you just gained’t get that yummy saffron taste while you swap the 2, however no less than you get that heat hue. Professional tip: For those who add safflower to your meals or drinks, at all times make certain your blossoms are natural and freed from nasty pesticides.

Safflower is sort of good at being a brightly coloured, very lengthy lasting lower flower for wreaths and bouquets. In order for you recent flowers, lower the blooming stems when the flowers are barely open and present colour. For dried flowers, lower when the flowers are utterly open after which dangle the stems the wrong way up in a cool spot to air dry.Above: To dry safflower, wait until flowers are totally open, then lower and dry the wrong way up. For extra tips on drying flowers, see Ask the Skilled: Florist Gayle Nicoletti on The way to Dry Flowers.

The seeds, after all, are a predominant asset: They are often commercially pressed into oil, or eaten uncooked or roasted. You may as well harvest seeds within the fall when the plant begins to brown and wither, after which you’ll be able to replant them subsequent yr to proceed your bounty. Professional tip: dDirectly sow the seeds after the final frost and the soil has warmed to no less than 40 levels F. This plant isn’t keen on the chilly. Sow 1 inch deep and a pair of toes aside. Preserve effectively watered whereas awaiting germination, then ease off on the water. As soon as totally grown, safflower is pretty immune to drought.

I took a dried safflower and dissected it to assemble seeds. This was positively not as simple as discovering and eradicating sunflowers. With safflowers, you might want to fastidiously separate the tiny seeds from the chaff. After I did this, I put the seeds in a clear jar and can wait till spring to plant them.

Cheat Sheet

A packet of Above: A packet of ‘Zanzibar’ seeds is $5.50 at Johnny’s Chosen Seeds.

  • Flower petals are edible and can be utilized as a coloring spice, dried for tea, infused in oil, or used as a dye with a improbable orange hue. The seeds might be pressed into oil.
  • Tufted, thistle-like flowers in yellow or orange seem from midsummer to fall.
  • Add to a lower flower garden or an herb garden.
  • Good plant companions are sunflowers, lavender, and zinnias.
  • Attracts pollinators and particularly birds like cardinals, jays, chickadees and titmouses.
  • Because of its stiff, barely prickly leaves, nibbling deer depart the plant alone, and since its seeds are bitter, deer gained’t nosh on these both.

Preserve It Alive

Above: A show of dried bouquets that includes safflower at Bloomingayle’s in Mill Valley.

  • Hailing from the Mediterranean, safflower likes a scorching and dry location.
  • Not a superb plant selection for top humidity areas or locations with plentiful rain.
  • Plant in well-draining, fertile soil. Additionally, the soil must be deep as a result of this plant produces an impressively lengthy (10 foot) faucet root.
  • Sprouts in 7 to 14 days and ultimately grows to about 3 toes excessive.
  • As soon as established, this plant isn’t very thirsty.

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