Name: Billy Buttons, drumsticks, woollyheads, billy balls, Pycnosorus globosus (formerly Craspedia globosa).
Plant type: perennial.
Climate: warm and cool temperate; cool and hot.
Soil: adaptable to most soil types.
Position: full sun to filtered light.
Foliage: clumps of narrow, silvery-green woolly leaves.
Flowers: bright-yellow spherical heads on upright stems from spring to summer.
Feeding: feed during spring and summer with an organic slow-release fertiliser that’s suitable for natives.
Watering: water when soil is dry.
Billy Buttons is a low-growing, clumping native with bright-yellow, ball-shaped flowers and narrow, silvery-green woolly foliage. The blooms are long lasting, providing a cheery display throughout spring and summer. Cut them for fresh or dried flower arrangements.
This native beauty is easy to grow and adaptable to most soil types. Once established, Billy Buttons is hardy, tolerating heat, light frosts and extended dry periods. It thrives in coastal areas, too. If it dies back, it will resprout from the underground rhizome.
Billy Buttons is not considered to be poisonous to children or pets, but it is mildly toxic to some animals including sheep, cattle and horses.
Billy Buttons is ideal in native, coastal, cottage or low-maintenance gardens. Plant along borders, in rockeries or pots. Combine with other natives such as kangaroo paw or scaevola.
Billy Buttons is easy to grow from seed. In warm climates, sow any time. In cooler climes, wait until the last chance of frost has passed. Sow in trays of seed-raising mix or direct in garden beds, lightly cover with soil and keep moist. Germination takes seven to 21 days. If grown in trays, transplant into the garden or pots when plants are 7cm tall.
Deadhead spent blooms regularly to promote new buds. Tidy at the end of summer by removing old flower stems. If it dies back in winter, prune to ground level and it will resprout when the weather warms.
Water regularly until established, then reduce frequency and only water when the soil is dry. Billy Buttons is tolerant of drought but grows best with regular watering during extended dry periods. A layer of organic mulch will help conserve soil moisture and keep the roots cool. Feed during spring and summer with a slow-release organic fertiliser that’s suitable for natives.
Billy Buttons usually takes 12 weeks from seed to flowering. When cutting the flowers, trim at the base of the stem and put straight into a glass with water.
To dry and preserve Billy Button flowers, harvest a bunch and tie the stems together. Hang upside down in a dark, dry place for two to four weeks. Preserved Billy Button flowers can last for several years if kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Billy Buttons is a hardy native that is rarely troubled by pests or disease. Snails or slugs may eat the tender developing seedlings, but they can be kept at bay with traps or baits.
Billy Buttons propagates easily from seed or division. Established clumps can be divided after a few years. Use a garden fork to gently lift the clump from the soil. Massage the root ball to loosen the soil and use a clean, sharp knife or secateurs to divide the clump. Plant around the garden or pot up in fresh potting mix.
Snapdragon: an annual or perennial with spikes of single or bicoloured, two-lipped blooms.
Cosmos: a charming annual with pink, purple, red, orange, yellow or white flowers on tall stems.
Cuphea: a hardy groundcover with a profusion of white, red or purple blooms.
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