Gomphrena globosa,
Bachelor's Buttons

By Dr. William C. Welch, Landscape Horticulturist
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

As we approach the most stressful period of the year for most garden plants, the few species that really thrive in hot, dry conditions deserve special recognition. Bachelor Buttons are readily available and easily grown from seed.

According to Hortus Third, Bachelor Buttons came to us from tropical areas of the Old World. They are documented as having been a part of early American gardens. Colors range from purple, rose, orange and white, and flowers are about l inch across.

In addition to their ease of culture, Bachelor Buttons were popular with our ancestors for their use as "everlastings." Dozens of individual flowers occur on each plant which are attractive mounds about 2 feet tall and wide. Cut stems of flowers hung upside down in a dark, dry area and allowed to dry hold their color for a year or more and can be used in a variety of ways.

Experienced gardeners always save a few flower heads from their favorite color plants to use for next year's seed. This is definitely a plant that will not thrive until hot weather arrives. June and July are good times to plant the seeds in most of Texas. Bachelor Buttons are so easily grown and transplanted that many gardeners simply sow the seeds in a small area of the vegetable garden or flower border then transplant seedlings to permanent locations when 2 or 3 inches tall. Plants are usually spaced l to l-l/2 feet apart for a mass effect. They are normally attractive in the garden until late fall. Dwarf forms are available, but appear to be more susceptible to rot.

Few insects seem to bother Gomphrena but occasional loss occurs from root rot. Good drainage is essential but little fertilizer or water are necessary to produce a massive display. It's not too late to start new plants now from seed. Plants started in July or early August can make a beautiful fall display and provide lots of dried material for winter decoration.