Centaurea are much loved plants characterised by their distinctive hard round scaly buds from which appear brightly coloured flowers in an array of colours.
Centaurea cheiranthifolia is one of the lesser known species that is native to north-eastern Turkey and the Caucasus. The plants produce loose clumps of blue-greyish lance-shaped leaves with slender stems each topped with stunning ivory-white flowers with deep purple stamens.
Centaurea cheiranthifolia is a relatively unknown perennial variety of our much loved cornflower. It is a lovely large cornflower with a long flowering period from late spring to early summer. They make outstanding border plants and are easily combined with other plants in the garden while also being suited more naturalistic schemes.
Gently clumping, the plants grow to around 50cm (20cm) tall. They are easy to grow, unfussy and while being delicate-looking, plant is actually very tough and are hardy down to -25°C (-13°F).
The plants are suitable for a position in sun or light shade. They perform well under dry conditions and because of this, they also do well in containers, where the soil may dry out quickly. The flowers are loved by pollinating bees, the seed heads are also attractive in winter when their seeds are an invaluable source of food for birds.
Sowing: Sow February to May or September to November
Sow seeds in about one month before you want to plant the seedlings outdoors
Fill individual peat pots, seed-starting flats or cells, or 7cm (3in) pot with a commercial seed-starting mix. Moisten the mix and let it drain.
Sow the seeds in rows in the flats. Sow 3 to 4 seeds per pot and cover the seeds with a 1cm (½in) layer - centaureas need darkness to germinate. Use a fine spray to moisten the top.
Cover the containers with clear plastic to keep the mix moist while the seeds are germinating and place in a warm location 16 to 22°C (60 to 70°F). Germination of perennial cornflowers takes 3 to 4 weeks.
When the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic covers and put the pots in a sunny location or under grow-lights. Water as needed to keep the mix moist (not soggy).
When seedlings are about 5cm (2in) tall and have at least one pair of true leaves, snip off all but the strongest plant in each pot at soil level. (The first set of leaves is known as cotyledon leaves—they usually do not resemble the true leaf shapes of the plants). Fertilise the seedlings once while they are growing indoors with a weak water-soluble fertilizer.
Transplant on a calm, cloudy day, so the plants can begin to get acclimatised before having to contend with sun and wind. Although they are not too particular about fertility, you may want to dig some compost or dried manure into the soil before planting: a 2 to 5cm (1 to 2in) layer should do.
Plant in full or partial sun in any average soil. Give them room to spread, space about 60cm (24in) apart. Place them in the mix at the same level they were growing originally. Water the planting well.
Fertilise the plants monthly with a balanced fertiliser or use a slow-release plant food at transplanting time. Water infrequently; Centaureas are drought tolerant, and the stems actually get rather floppy if the soil is too moist.
Remove spent flowers to keep the plants producing new blooms.
Division is usually most successful while plants aren’t in active growth in spring or autumn. Keep well-watered afterwards.
Flowers Borders and Beds, Patio/Container Plants, Wildflower Gardens or Wildlife Gardens,
Cut or Dried Flower. Bee plant, First Year Flowering
Cut and Dried Flowers:
Freshly cut blooms last four to five days.
Cut the blooms in early morning when they are half open and strip the lower leaves from the stems.
To dry, pick them in late morning or in the afternoon. Select flowers that have just opened or they will drop their petals when dry. Air-dry the flowers: tie in bunches and hang upside down in an airy, dark place for two to three weeks.
Centaurea is a genus of between 350 and 600 species of herbaceous thistle-like flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. Members of the genus are found only north of the equator, mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere; the Middle East and surrounding regions are particularly species-rich.
Centaurea cheiranthifolia is native to north-eastern Turkey and the Caucasus.
Centaurea comes to us from the Centaur Chiron, who cured a festering wound that was made with an arrow dipped in the Hydra's blood. The wound was cured by covering it with the flowers of this plant, which now bears his name as its genus name.
The species name cheiranthifolia refers to the fact that the lance shaped leaves look like that of the species Cheiranthus, otherwise known as our familiar wall flower.
Centaurea cheiranthifolia has a number of synonyms: Cyanus cheiranthifolius, Centaurea ochroleuca, Centaurea axillaris var. ochroleuca, Centaurea fischeri subsp. cheiranthifolia
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Seeds Seed Form Natural Family Asteraceae Genus Centaurea Species cheiranthifolia Synonym Cyanus cheiranthifolius, Centaurea ochroleuca,
Centaurea axillaris var. ochroleuca, Centaurea fischeri subsp. cheiranthifolia
Common Name White Cornflower Other Language Names centaurie centaurée kornblomst fiordaliso Korenbloem Kornblume chaber Hardiness Hardy Perennial Natural Flower Time Late spring to early summer. Height 50cm (20in) Spread 50cm (20in) Position Full sun to part shade Time to Sow Sow February to May or September to November