The large flowers of the Caucasian scabious have been a cut-flower staple for 150 years or more. The 'Isaac House Hybrids', occasionally known as 'House's Hybrids' were developed for cutting and are well stemmed with large flat flower heads.
Scabiosa caucasica was introduced into Britain in 1803 after seed collected from the Caucasus was sent to the Hackney nurseryman George Loddiges. Market gardener James House, who ran a successful nursery near Bristol continued the development with a number of their own seed strains.
'Issac House Hybrids' are an excellent cutting flower and are used extensively in haute summer garden design today. They are well stemmed with large flat flower heads; they bloom in a lovely mix of blue, white and lavender and will flower the first year if started a good 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting outside.
This perennial form of Scabiosa are very easy to grow and are hardy to below -18°C (0°F). They never fail to bloom throughout the whole summer, and last well into autumn, they are also very attractive to bees and butterflies.
Their delicate presence is valued for the contribution they make in the garden as well as the vase. Cut the stems just as the flowers are opening. These silver-washed beauties shine in July, through to September, when sunny yellows and oranges usually dominate.
Sow January to March for flowering from June onwards, or April to August for flowering the following year.
Fill trays or pots with good, well draining seed compost (John Innes or similar). Stand the pots in water to moisten then drain. Sow 1/16 inch (1.5mm) deep. Cover seed lightly with vermiculite after sowing as they need light for germination.
Place the container in a propagator or seal in a polythene bag after sowing to keep the moisture constant. Place in a warm place to maintain an optimum temperature of around 18 to 21°C (65 to 70°F)
Make sure that the compost is kept slightly moist but not wet. Avoid direct sunlight by shading seeds after sowing. Germinates in 2 to 3 weeks at 18 to 21°C (65 to 70°F)
Prick out seedlings when large enough to handle into 9-10cm (4in) pots after 4 weeks. Grow on at 10°C (50°F) Use larger pots, 13 to 15cm per plant, if they are to stay in containers. Acclimatise young plants to outdoor conditions before planting out. Space the plants 30 to 60cm (12 to 24in) apart.
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. In spring fertilise moderately. Don't fertilize after mid September.
S. caucasica has long stems that initially produce one large flower. But if you snip the dying flower stem back to the lowest buds, halfway down, two slightly shorter-stemmed flowers will spring from the bud axils. If the planting area is not sheltered, stake to keep the stems upright. Deadheading encourages plants to flower on and on. But 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. Young plants flower most freely so divide and replant each spring but only once the plant has begun to grow again.
The long-lasting pincushion-shaped flowers are an essential element in flower arrangements. Cut flower stems can be harvested when the flower first shows colour. Put the stems in warm water immediately.
Vase life: 8 to 10 days. Cold storage is not recommended. Avoid the formation of seedpods in order to encourage the following flowering. Over the year harvest 20 stems per plant.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Borders and Beds. Butterflies and Bees.
Native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. The first scabious ever introduced was the small-flowered S. atropurpurea in 1591. Scabiosa caucasica was introduced into Britain in 1803 after seed collected from the Caucasus area was sent to the Hackney nurseryman George Loddiges.
Scabiosa is a genus in the family Dipsacaceae, or teasel family. Many of the species have common names that include the word scabious; however some plants commonly known as scabious are currently classified in related genera such as Cephalaria, Knautia and Succisa.
The genus name ‘Scabiosa’ 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.
The species name caucasica refers to the plants origin in the Caucasus mountains of Europe. The main range is generally perceived to be the dividing line between Asia and Europe. The Caucasus is one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse regions on Earth.
The word Caucasus itself derives from Caucas, the purported ancestor of the North Caucasians. He was a son of Togarmah, grandson of Biblical Noah's third son Japheth.
The common name of 'Pincushion flower’ derives from the fact that its long, needle-like pistils resemble pins sticking into a pincushion.
The ''Isaac House Hybrids' are named after their creator, market gardener James House, who ran a successful nursery near Bristol Occasionally known as 'House's Hybrids' they were developed for cutting and are well stemmed with large flat flower heads.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 500mg Average Seed Count 35 seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 75 seeds per gram Family Dipsacaceae Genus Scabiosa Species caucasica Cultivar Isaac House Hybrids Common Name Pin Cushion, Caucasian scabious.
Aka 'House's hybrids'
Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy to below -18°C (0°F) Flowers Blue, White and Lavender Natural Flower Time Early summer to early autumn (June to September) Height 45-60cm (18-24in) Spacing 45-60cm (18-24in) Position Full Sun Soil Well-drained. Does best in slightly alkaline soils. Time to Sow January to March for flowering from June, or April to August for flowering the following year. Germination 2 to 3 weeks at 18 to 21°C (65 to 70°F)