Every cloud has it’s silver lining, and one of the things I’m choosing to be grateful for with our previous (and hopefully final) cold snap is that it gave me a chance to plant some bachelor’s buttons for a cut flower bed at the last minute.
While most annuals like to be started after the last hard frost, these take some planning ahead: they like to go in just before the last hard frost.
I was lucky. Just this past week, I noticed they had begun to sprout. Hopefully we’ll have some of these beautiful flowers growing in our bed this season.
Fancy name: Centaurea cyanus
Common name: Cornflower
Useless but interesting trivia: Called cornflower because they grow wild in (guess..) grain fields! It is reported that when the Prussian Queen Louise was hiding from the invading Napoleon, she hid in a cornfield and her children amused themselves by making wreathes of cornflowers. They were first brought to the U.S from Europe in the 17th century and supposedly cultivated by Jefferson at Monticello.
Culture notes: Sow outdoors in early spring 1-2 weeks before the last hard frost. They like full sun, but will tolerate poor soil. If I remember, I try to give them the occasional shot of natural fertilizer (such as fish emulsion) about once a month. I have found them to be pretty drought tolerant, and mulch will also help conserve moisture in the soil. Don’t allow them to get too crowded together as powdery mildew has been a problem in my garden.
How to use them: They can get to be as tall as 3′ so put them in the back of your bed. They are beautiful left alone, used as cut flowers, and reportedly dry well. Dried flowers are not my thing at the moment, so I just cut them or leave them to look pretty in the bed.
Looks great with: Red cosmos, I like to use them with sunflowers too.
Recommended varieties: I’ve used “Black Magic” before and enjoyed it. They were my first attempt at Bachelor’s buttons and the deep purple color is very unique. While they come in a variety of colors from white to pink my favorite is the traditional “Blue Boy”.
Why you should grow them: Flowers planted amongst your vegetables will attract bees and other beneficial insects to your garden, not to mention that every gardener needs something pretty to look at while working outside, or to cut and bring in for the table.
These are annuals, but they will readily self seed and come back year after year with no effort on your part. While your still working to get your cool weather season vegetables up and growing, your bachelor’s buttons will be putting out buds and getting ready to bloom.
Where to buy them: Bachelor’s Button seeds are very easy to find. Pretty much any seed supplier will have one or two varieties. You may even have a gardening friend who would be willing to give you some of their seed. I have had great success with those purchased through the Seed Saver’s Exchange, Baker Creek has several different varieties, and Mary’s Heirloom Seeds* offers some as well.
Do you grow flowers for cutting? What are some of your favorites?
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