Cornflowers are great plants for the cutting garden or border, and this fine cultivar is no exception. Centaurea cyanus 'Pinkie' is a double flowered cultivar with wonderful fluffy flowers on densely branched upright plants. This is the pink member of the series which includes Black, Blue, Red, Mauve and White varieties.
A favorite annual flower and cottage garden staple, one single cornflower looks like a burst of fireworks. With lance shaped, long and graceful leaves, the upper half of the plant has multiple stems which produce many flowers from early summer until frost.
Well suited for cutting, drying, and pressing. Cornflowers are self-sowers that do best in cool weather.
Sow in August to September for early summer flowering the next year or sow directly where they are to flower in March to April
Sowing Direct :
Sow thinly, 3mm (1/8in) deep in drills 30cm (12in) apart in well-cultivated soil which has been raked to a fine tilth. Water ground regularly, especially in dry periods.
When large enough to handle, thin out seedlings to 15cm (6in) apart
Sow in pots or trays of moist seed compost and cover with a very fine sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. After sowing, do not exclude light as this helps germination. Keep at 15-20°C (59-68°F). Keep the surface of the compost moist but not waterlogged. Germination will usually take 14-21 days.
When they are large enough to handle, transplant the seedlings into 7cm (3in) pots or trays. Overwinter plants in cool, light, frost-free conditions before planting out the following spring, or grow on as greenhouse pot plants.
This fully hardy plant requires a sunny site, growing in most well-drained soil types, even poor soil. Do not over fertilise because this will lead to excessive leaf growth at the expense of blossoms. Cornflowers bloom more when crowded.
The wiry plants may need some discreet support, and deadheading helps to prolong the flowering season.
Flowers Borders and Beds, Patio/Container Plants, Cut Flower, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Everlasting (use for drying and pressing, Cornflowers retain their colours when dried).
To get the best from your cornflowers, cut the stems in the morning after the dew has dried. Cut flowers when fully open because buds will not open after cutting. Cut the flowers with a sharp knife about 3cm (1in) from the bottom of a main stem, at an angle of about 45 degrees as this provides a larger exposed area for the uptake of water. Remove all the lower foliage that would be submerged in water.
Fill sterilised buckets with luke warm water and add flower food with a preservative to increase longevity. Place the cornflowers in the buckets and leave over night to condition before using in an arrangement.
Cornflowers are prized historically for their blue pigment.
Cornflowers are often used as an ingredient in tea and is famous in the Lady Grey blend of Twinings. Named after Mary Elizabeth Grey, the wife of Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, after whom Earl Grey tea is named, it was created in the early 1990s to appeal to the Nordic market, who found Earl Grey tea too pungent. It first went on sale in Norway in 1994 and in Britain in 1996.
The genus name 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. This also gave the plant its reputation for great healing properties.
The species name cyanus was given because of the flowers vivid blue colour.
The common name 'Cornflower' comes from the fact that the plant grows wild in the grain fields of southern Europe. Once upon a time anything that grew and bloomed in a grain field was considered a 'cornflower.' As time passed, that moniker stuck to Centaurea cyanus in particular, all the other flowers left to find their own names. Other plants named for their association with grain fields are corn-cockle, corn poppy and corn marigold.
Bachelor's-buttons, as you might suspect from the Latin genus and species, have a bit of folklore under its belt. Cyanus was a youth in Greek legend who worshiped Chloris (also called Flora), and spent every waking hour gathering flowers for her altar. (Today we call this a stalker.) When he died, the goddess gave his name to the plant, though some believed she turned him into the plant.
In folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love; if the flower faded too quickly, it was taken as a sign that the man's love was unrequited.
Other common names:
Ragged sailor, Witches' bells, Happy skies, Haw dods, Hurtsickle, Cornbottle, Corn centaury, French pink, Brushes, Bunk, Corn binks, Blue tops, Bluets, Break-your-spectacles, Blue bow, Blue poppy, Blue sailors, Blue blaw, Blue bonnets, Bluebottle, Barbeau, Blaver, Blawort.
- Additional Information
Family Asteraceae Genus Centaurea Species cyanus Cultivar Pinkie Synonym The "Ball" series Common Name Double Cornflower, Bachelors Button Other Language Names Centaurée, Kornblomst, Fiordaliso, Korenbloem, Kornblume, Chaber Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers Pale Pink Natural Flower Time Spring to Summer Height 80cm (32in) Spread 20cm (8in) Position Full Sun Soil Well-drained (Acid, Alkaline or Neutral) Time to Sow Sow in August to September for early summer flowering the next year
or sow directly where they are to flower in March to April
Germination 14 to 21 days