Commonly known as billy buttons, these unusual “flowers” are botanically known as Craspedia globosa (kras-PEE-dee-uh glow-BOW-suh). Other common names include billy balls, drumsticks and woolyheads.
Billy buttons have spherical flower heads (glomerules),
1 inch to 2 inches in diameter, formed of a massive aggregation of tiny flowers, atop long (12 to 24 inches), thin leafless stems.
These round botanicals are available naturally only in yellow, but several suppliers offer dyed billy buttons in red, orange and green hues.
always in season
Billy buttons are available year-round from both domestic and foreign growers.
Look for large, puffy, well-formed and undamaged flower heads with vivid color and stems that are straight and sturdy. There should be no signs of mold or rot on the flower heads or stems. Billy buttons are generally sold in 10-stem bunches.
outside the box
Remove billy buttons from the shipping boxes immediately upon their arrival, and check flower quality. Remove all stem bindings.
Recut the stems on an angle with a sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of stem. Immediately dip or place stem ends into a hydration solution, then into storage containers partially filled with properly proportioned flower-food solution. Flower food will promote the opening of the tiny florets on the spherical flower heads.
cool down Immediately after processing, place billy buttons into a floral cooler at 34 F to 38 F, and allow them to hydrate for at least two hours before using or selling them.
Billy buttons’ smooth thin stems can become slimy in storage containers, so rinse and recut the stems and place them into fresh flower-food solution in a sterilized storage container every other day.
Billy buttons are fairly resistant to the effects of ethylene.
These flowers should last from five to 14 days at the consumer level, depending on their maturity when sold and the care they receive.
all in the family
Craspedia is a member of the huge Asteraceae/Compositae (daisy/sunflower) family, and the flowers’ surface resembles the center disks of those flowers. Close relatives include Gerberas, chrysanthemums, marguerites, China asters, marigolds, Dahlias, Zinnias, bachelor’s buttons, thistles and yarrow as well as many other flower and food crops.
These unusual flowers are native to Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania.
cut and dried
Billy buttons are excellent candidates for air drying; they can maintain their color for up to a year. Collect them at their peak condition; tie several stems in a small bunch; and hang them upside down in a warm, dry, airy, dark room until they’re dried. Spraying the flower heads with a dry flower sealant can help them last longer as dried flowers. If color fades, restore it with floral paint or dye.