Cornflowers: Accentuate Your Home Garden with Dramatic Azure Blooms
Cornflower (or centaureacyanus) is an annual flowering plant that belongs to the family Asteraceae. It is native to Europe but is now naturalised in other parts of the world such as North America and some parts of Australia. It is also known as Bluebottle, Bachelor’s button, Hurtsickle, Boutonniere flower, and Cyani flower.
The cornflower is simply captivating and growing cornflowers is a very good addition to any garden. It grows around 15-35 inches in height with branched, greyish-green stems.
True to its name, cornflower or Bluebottle usually has a vibrant, intense blue color. It is produced in flowerheads or capitula around 1.5 to 3 centimeters in diameter. The leaves are about 1-4 centimeters long.
Want to hear some cornflower trivia? In the past it was often considered as a weed that grew in crop fields thus the name cornflower. However, it is currently endangered in its native habitat because of overuse of herbicides. In fact, in the last 50 years cornflower has declined from more than 250 sites to just about 3 sites in the United Kingdom. This is why Plantlife, the conservation charity, is now actively working to bring cornflower back from the brink of extinction. Now that’s another good reason why grow cornflower in your garden.
Cornflowers are ideal container choices because of their drought tolerant nature. They are usually mixed with Dame’s Rocket, Oriental Poppies, Shasta Daisies, Lavender, Zinnias and a number of other plants. Remember that towards the end of the growing season, cornflower foliage usually becomes raggedy looking so showcasing other plants with the same height can help camouflage their decline.
The best way to propagate cornflower is to sow the seeds directly into your garden or lawn during fall or as soon as the weather allows for spring germination.
- Keep in mind that cornflowers need average well-drained soil and full sunlight. Scatter the seeds across the area. Cover the seeds lightly with a thin layer of dirt then pat gently.
- The seeds should be sprinkled with water and be kept moist.
- Thin the seedlings around 8 to 12 inches apart.
You’re probably wondering if you can start the seeds indoors, then transplant them at a later time. Well, according to experts, these plants do not transplant well so although it could be started indoors, it is recommended not to do so.
How to Grow Cornflowers
Good drainage and full sunlight is very important for cornflower to grow properly. Ordinary soil can be used as long as pH is from 5.5 to 7. Feeding is necessary especially during spring. It also needs regular watering especially during prolonged dry spells. Remember to deadhead and for taller species, staking may be necessary.
Insects or disease is not a problem with cornflowers. However, the biggest drawback with this plant is the weakness of its stems which usually causes them to fall over if it becomes too dry or when the wind is strong. The best solution is to plant cornflowers in mixed plantings for support.
After your first year of planting cornflowers, you don’t need to buy seeds again. Cornflower seeds are very easy to harvest. When the seeds are ripe, the seedpods open up. You should just watch out for this period and extract the seeds for next year.