The tassel flower, or Emilia javanica, is a brightly colored annual that is native to parts of Asia. These flowers may grow to a height of 1.5 feet (45 cm), with blooms that are typically red, orange, or yellow in color. The flowers sit on top of bluish-green leaves and have stringy tassels that come down over the top of the stems. This flower is also occasionally referred to as flora's paintbrush because of the brush-like appearance of the blooms.
Many people prefer to use the tassel flower as a border plant in their gardens. The bloom is normally small in size and may be useful for accentuating larger, showier flowers. It is also frequently used as a cut flower in bouquets to fill up empty space with extra color. These flowers bloom all summer long, usually resowing themselves as long as the conditions are favorable. In general, they require very little maintenance.
It is possible to plant a tassel flower from seed at any time of year. In the fall, the seeds can be sown directly outdoors in the ground. Sowing them in fall gives them a chance to establish a good root system before they bloom when the weather warms up. It is important to mulch them well after sowing to help protect the roots from frost. Seeds can be sown in the winter as well, but it is a good idea to plant them first in a container and keep them either indoors or inside a greenhouse to protect them from the elements.
These flowers may be started from seed after the last frost of the season in spring and should bloom the same summer. Many people like to start them indoors in small containers about six weeks before the last frost and then transplant them outside after the threat of frost is gone. The tassel flower is an annual and typically does not come back the following year after blooming. Seeds may be collected and stored to sow again the following year.
Tassel flowers fare best when planted in areas that receive full sunlight. They also need soil with good drainage. It is best to plant them spaced apart by about 9 inches (22 cm) to allow adequate room for them to spread out. They will typically hold up to drought-like conditions, but it's still important to water them about once a week if it doesn't rain. The tassel flower may be poisonous if ingested, so it is a good idea to keep pets and small children away from them if possible.