looking for plants with dry-able pods

carlanne(7 NJ coastal)March 14, 2008

A friend who has a farm wants to grow plants to dry and use in arrangements and wreaths. She is looking for suggestion for the more unusual and dramatic kind of things that are available in the craft stores for example.

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neil_allen(z5/6 Chi IL)

If there are some wild fringes on the farm with native goldenrods, look for galls on the stems in the winter. The goldenrods with galls tend to be large, aggressive plants that you don't want in a garden area.

Some other things with interesting pods are marginal as garden plants -- Chinese lanterns (Physalis franchetti) spread by runners and evening primrose (tall Oenothera types) self-seed a lot and take a lot of room -- both better, perhaps for fringe areas than a real garden.

Real garden plants with interesting pods: Siberian iris, Spuria iris (harder to find), Iris foetidissima (can be difficult to catch the pods at the right time, when the seeds are bright red), money plant (seeds itself a lot, some people consider it a weed), lotus (need a small pond, may need to heat pond over winter or store in basement), pumpkin pepper (Pinetree Gardens offers seeds), ornamental peppers (try Nippon Taka from Johnny's).

Not really a pod, but if you dry the open flowers of artichokes, the blue flower parts eventually fall away leaving a whitish-beigey "flower" of surrounding bracts and a fluffy white center.

Some of the fancier things you may find in stores are Australian, may or may not flower their first year outdoors, and probably won't make it through a Md. winter without a spell indoors. I'm trying bottlebrush (Callistemon) and kanagroo paw (Anigozanthus) this year from seed (no germination yet on the kanagroo paw), so I don't have any real experience yet.

Coneflowers (rudbeckias) have pretty nice seed heads. If you can find the giant Rudbeckia maxima, it has good heads on very long stems.

Job's tears is a grass with nice seeds, and the seed heads of wheat, barley, quaking grass (Briza) and cat grass are all attractive.

Of the traditional everlastings, love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) is best known for its pods, and annual poppy (Papaver somniferum and paeoniflorum) has good ones. Similar to poppies but smaller are the pods of balloonflower (Platycodon grandiflorum).

But why only pods? Aside from the normal "strawflowers," there is a wide range of garden flowers, from roses and peonies to lady's mantlle, veronica and salvias that dry well.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 2:45PM
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Neil has really covered it well, but I'll add Okra and also Small Ornamental Corn which comes in several colors...you can leave sheaves attached and just peel back. Both work well in Autumn wreaths. Small ornamental gourds too. If there's a marshy out of the way spot, try cattails and Pussy Willow. Red and yellow-stemmed willow would make smashing wreaths or add to fall/winter arrangements. josh

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 8:15AM
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neil_allen(z5/6 Chi IL)

Excellent additions, Jo.

Some more possibilities:

Around a farm, you're likely to find various kinds of peppergrass (aka peppercress, Lat. Lepidium) blooming in the spring. Some kinds make interesting pods. Even better is pennycress (Thlaspi arvense), also spring-blooming. They're both members of the mustard family. Two garden-plant members of the same family with similarly interesting (but smallish) pods are Fibigia clypeata (sometimes called Roman Shields) and Alyssoides utriculata (I've seen it called bladder pod). Both have yellow flowers followed by oval green pods that retain their color when they're dried. If you leave the pods to age on the plant, the Alyssoides will turn brown and smooth, and if you them press them, the shell will fall away and you'll have what looks like a miniature money plant, with a whitish membrane and a seed. You have to search to find seeds for these -- the Alyssoides I've only seen in sources that sell alpine seed.

Another quasi-edible that can be dried is hyancinth bean (Dolichos lablab). Try drying the pods before they fill out with seed.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 2:16PM
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carlanne(7 NJ coastal)

Thank you all for the unique ideas. I have passed on the posts and I am sure my friend will find them helpful. She is a young mother of seven who farms in a semi suburban area, and I think the idea of growing these items for market as well as for her own crafting materials has real potential for her.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 6:15PM
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Poppies are the pods I like the most, and have the hardest time finding.

Fern fronds, and the Âcinnamon sticks from the cinnamon fern are also hard to find, and a good choice to tuck into a shady corner.

If she was in a wilder area, IÂd highly recommend Teasel  the seed heads can be harvested green or dry for different levels of prickliness, and theyÂre amazing looking things.

Something I always keep an eye out for every year are the big, fuzzy seed pods of the Wisteria vine, they stay green for a darned long time, and dry to a velvety texture

Clematis and Maypop (a hardy passion vine) both have interesting seed heads (the maypops also make an edible fruit) though theyÂre a bit fragile. The clematis also yields a TON of vineage for wreaths after about the third year, if you pick one from the group where they get pruned short every year or two.

IÂd make room for either a Âgiant or a black pussy willow  theyÂre not huge bushes, especially if you harvest themÂand the black PW in particular is a wonderful find for crafters.

Rose of Sharon seed pods can be interesting  but darn, thatÂs one invasive little tree!

Yarrow makes great flowering heads, and ferny foliage for drying and bug-repelling sachets, but it's also invasive once it gets established.

and if she's in to foraging, there's a local bush called 'spicebush' that yeilds an oval leaf with a genuinely spice smell that dries well, and I learned to use in place of bay leaves in both crafts, and cooking.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 12:18PM
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Sometimes seeds themselves are large enough to add to dried arrangements. The Texas Mountain Laurel has red seeds that are about the size of dimes. They would be great in Christmas wreaths.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 9:46AM
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