Knautia arvensis is an attractive native perennial herb of well drained grassland. It can be found throughout Europe in meadows, rough pasture, hedgerows and verges.
With bluish-lilac, honeycomb-like flowerheads and pink anthers, depending on conditions the slender stems can grow up a metre tall and are sparsely branched with hairy green leaves.
The beautiful native Field Scabious has been the original plant material from which many award winning garden cultivars have been bred and looks equally at home in a herbaceous border or naturalised in a sunny wildflower garden. Use it to provide a splash of colour in a townhouse garden or as an edging plant along the front of an informal border.
The blooms are excellent for cutting, with long, clean stems that display beautifully in a vase.
Established plants are drought-resistant and are found naturally in open, sunny situations. Though it is by nature a perennial, scabious will flower and produce seed the first year if grown as an annual, either autumn or spring sown.
Knautia arvensis flowers are composed of numerous, tube-shaped florets which are an excellent source of nectar for both bees and butterflies. They never fail to bloom throughout the whole summer and last well into autumn.
Sowing: Sow in spring or autumn
Seeds are best sown directly where they are to flower in prepared ground in autumn but can also be sown into pots and placed in a coldframe in spring. Germination is usually around 2 to 4 weeks at around 18 to 21°C (65 to 70°F). but can occasionally be erratic.
Sow thinly, 6mm (¼in) deep in drills 30cm (12in) apart, directly where they are to grow, 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 until they are finally 30cm (12in) apart in spring.
Fill pots with good, well draining seed compost (John Innes or similar). Stand the pots in water to moisten then drain. Sow 1.5mm (1/16 inch) deep. Cover seed lightly with a fine sprinkling of sieved soil. Place in a coldframe or similar. Make sure that the compost is kept moist but not wet.
Acclimatise young plants to outdoor conditions before planting out Prick out seedlings when large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in summer. Space the plants 30 to 60cm (12 to 24in) apart and water regularly, especially in dry periods.
All scabious prefer well-drained soil and a sunny position. They dislike cold, wet winters. A top dressing of grit in October will aid surface drainage. However they also hate hot, humid weather and do best in temperate conditions.
Deadheading encourages plants to flower on and on. Many scabious (and related genera) set seed prolifically if left. Seeds can be collected in autumn, dried and sown the following spring without losing viability. Birds are also quite partial to the large seeds
Young plants flower most freely and after a few years the plant can look worn. Revive by dividing and replanting in spring or autumn.
Cut flower stems can be harvested, when the flower show colour. Put the stems in warm water immediately. Vase life: 8 to 10 days.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds. Butterflies and Bees. Wildflower gardens and meadows.
Other wildflowers that grow in similar habitats are: Betony, Cuckooflower, Devils bit scabious, Goat's-beard, Harebell, Knapweed, Lady's Bedstraw, Loosestrife, Meadowsweet, Ox-eye Daisy, Primrose, Self-heal, Teasel, Yarrow, Violet.
Knautia arvensis is found throughout Europe, the Caucasus, Iran to Central Asia and Siberia.
This pretty wildflower could be confused with Small scabious or Devil’s-bit scabious, both also members of the teasel family. Small scabious as the name suggests is smaller, slimmer and less hairy and the flowers have five not four petal lobes.
Pronounced NOT-ee-ah, the genus name is named after a 17th Century Saxon botanist, Dr. Christopher Knaut (1638-1694).
The species name arvensis means “found in fields”
The common name of scabious derives from the word scabies, which comes from the Latin word scabere meaning “to scratch". In medieval times species of scabious the plants were believed to relieve the itch of scabies and other afflictions of the skin including sores caused by the Bubonic Plague. In the 17 century Nicholas Culpepper prescribed its root as an ointment for the cure of wounds, swollen throats, snake-bite and the plague.
Other plants commonly known as scabious are classified in related genera such as Cephalaria, Scabiosa and Succisa.
The common name of 'Pincushion flower’ is also shared with Scabiosa. It derives from the fact that its long, needle-like pistils resemble pins sticking into a pincushion.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 100 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 100 seeds per gram Family Dipsacaceae Genus Knautia Species arvensis Cultivar Wildflower of Britain and Ireland Synonym Scabiosa arvensis. Common Name Field Scabious
Wildflower of Britain and Ireland
Other Common Names Pincushion Flower, Blue Buttons Other Language Names IR. Cab an ghasáin Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Blue-Lilac flowers Natural Flower Time June onwards. Height 30 to 90cm (12 to 36in) Position Full sun preferred but will grow in partial shade Soil Well-drained soil. Time to Sow Sow in autumn or in spring. Germination Usually 2 to 4 weeks at around 18 to 21°C (65 to 70°F). but can occasionally be erratic.