Cornflowers are the most splendid of annuals. Aside from their electric blue, which is breathtaking when they're grown in dense drifts, they are easy to grow, they flower all summer, make great cut flowers and butterflies and bees adore them.
The other advantage is that they're a hardy annual, which means they can be sown late in autumn or very early in the spring. Set off in autumn, the seedlings have time to establish before frost sets in. They will develop strong roots during the cool months, allowing them to form bigger plants and to flower six weeks earlier.
They require a sunny, open spot and poor soil. When we think of cornflowers, we imagine running through vast fields of them, but you don't need a huge area to grow them, in fact they can be easily grown in containers.
Centaurea ‘Jubilee Gem’ is easily one of the oldest annual varieties of Cornflower, winning a Silver Medal at the All-America Selections trials back in 1937. This old-fashioned favorite has fully double, rich, dark blue blossoms on sturdy upright stems.
This particularly pretty variety grows to a height of around 38cm (15in). Suitable for the front of the border and for growing in containers. They thrive in poor soil and are drought tolerant. Flowering throughout summer the blooms are freely produced on compact, bushy plants.
Sowing: Sow in Spring or Autumn.
Sow in spring, March to May directly where they are to flower for flowers July to September, or sow during Autumn, August to September to flower from June the following year.
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 to 20°C (59 to 68°F). Keep the surface of the compost moist but not waterlogged. Germination will usually take 14 to 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. Children.
Everlasting Flower - use for drying and pressing, Cornflowers retain their colours when dried.
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.
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.
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 worshipped Chloris (or 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.
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. This also gave the plant its reputation for great healing properties.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 5 grams Average Seed Count 1,400 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 265 seeds per gram Family Asteraceae Genus Centaurea Species cyanus Cultivar Jubilee Gem Common Name Cornflower, Bachelors Button Other Language Names centaurée kornblomst fiordaliso Korenbloem Kornblume chaber Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers Beautiful vibrant blue flowers Natural Flower Time Throughout summer Foliage Herbaceous Height 28cm (14in) Spacing 20cm (8in) Position Full sun for best flowering Aspect West or South Facing. Exposed or Sheltered. Soil Well-drained (Acid, Alkaline or Neutral) Time to Sow Sow in spring or in autumn.