All these easy-to-grow flowers are sun lovers, all are treated as annuals in regions with cold winters, and all thrive in moist but well-drained soil. Unless otherwise noted, cut when blossoms are new and unblemished. Harvest on a dry day after the dew has evaporated but before afternoon sun causes wilting. Because flowers shrink when dried, cut more than you think you'll need. After cutting, remove excess foliage, and hang the flowers in small bunches in a warm, dry, airy place away from the sun. Drying times given are for dry, sunny weather. Depending on conditions, drying could last a few more days.
Photography: Victor Schrager
Martha Stewart Living, November 2000
Direct-sow in fall. Keep some wispy leaves for a delicate effect. Both flowers and the attractive seed pods dry in 3 to 5 days.
Start seeds indoors, and set out in late spring. Cut when blooms are three-quarters open; dry for 5 to 7 days.
Start seeds indoors, and set out in spring. Wait until flowers are fairly full before cutting or the stems will droop. Cut the entire plant close to the ground. Hang for 5 to 7 days.
Likes it hot and dry; tolerates drought. Soak seeds for 3 days before sowing directly into the garden. Each stem produces three flowers; pinch out the center flower, and wait until the two side flower heads take on a beehive shape, a sign that stems are rigid enough to stand straight. Hang for 5 days.
Can be sown directly into the garden. Thrives in high temperatures; sulks in cool, wet climates. Wait until the red spikes fill out before cutting, but do so before they begin to turn brown. Hang for about 2 weeks.
Direct-sow. When flower heads are full, cut with 2 feet of stalk. Hang for 2 weeks.