Centaurea

Planting:

Some Centaurea love hot, dry conditions, but most will thrive in any normal garden soil. If your soil is claggy and poorly drained then add plenty of grit to the soil when planting.

Most will benefit from the sunniest position you can find, but in our experience many (e.g. montana) will grow well in light shade.

Care and Maintenance:

Most Centaurea will spread by underground runners so they can easily be dug up and moved to a new location. Be aware though that they can regrow from root left in the soil.

Whilst they are drought tolerant they will benefit from a good soaking from time to time. Some will become dormant in hot dry spells - don't be alarmed they will resprout when the rain returns.

Cutting back the stems to new shoots after flowering promotes repeat blooming throughout the season in most types (not macrocephala and glastifolia)- don't be afraid to cut them back hard. This is also the treatment if mildew is a problem - the new leaves will be fresh and healthy provided you clear away all infected leaves.

Some species (e.g. macrocephala, glastifolia) have very attractive seed heads that last through the winter. The seeds are loved by birds and small mammals (especially voles). Cut back these stems in early spring.

Propagation:

Division is easy with most species - simply dig up and pull apart. Large numbers of plants can be grown from root cuttings taken in winter. Most species are easily raised from seed and do not seem to hybridise. Seed is best sown fresh, straight after harvesting. If seed heads are left on the plants over winter, seeds will often germinate inside the heads. These can be carefully teased out and pricked out into trays or modules.

Using Centaurea:

Centaurea are ideal plants with species suitable for the border, scree garden or rock garden. The tall species are largely self supporting (the exception being perhaps dealbata which can flop a bit unless supported with a few twigs) and compete well with other plants, holding their own in the bed.

Try planting the tall yellow glastifolia with Helenium, its branched stems and round heads contrast well with the latter's flat heads of flower.

Many Centaurea are meadow flowers (e.g. jacea, phrygia, nigra) and look great in a cottage garden setting.

Remember that the buds of Centaurea can provide interest and contrast as well as the flowers: glastifolia has silver buds, macrocephala bronze and montana types have jewel-like black and emerald buds.

Centaurea bella

Bella is the big sister of C. simplicicaulis in every way: she has larger, more robustly lobed leaves and very similar, but larger feathery pink flowers. Her leaf mound is about 8in / 20cm tall. She flowers in bursts throughout the summer and performs best in a well-drained soil. She is native of the Caucasus. The epithet "bella" means "beautiful" and she certainly is.

Price 4.50 (9cm pot) avaialable to order for spring delivery

Centaurea Caramia

Caramia has showy pink flowers all summer that are favourites with bumblebees. The flower buds are very attractive as well. The stems are stiffly upright and get to about 2ft tall. This is a very worthy new addition to the flower border. Flowers May - September.

It looks like a hybrid of Centaurea jacea and phrygia from the flowers.

Price 5.00 (9cm pot) available to order for spring delivery

Centaurea Jordy

Unique deep maroon flowers on bushy plants about 2ft - 2ft 6in tall. The silver-green leaves are like those of Centaurea montana varieties but the plants are less spreading than most of these.

It is apparently a hybrid between montana and jacea.

You may find this plant under the names Jody and Jonty as well.

Price 5.00 (9cm pot)

Centaurea montana Alba

Centaurea montana Alba with Carder Bee.

Lovely white cornflowers with pink flushed centres. The purple-tipped, black stamen are very prominent. The flowers are very attractive to bees. The fresh leaves are attractively covered in silver hairs and are wavy-edged. Reaches about 30-45cm and forms small clumps. Flowers from May through the summer if cut back hard after flowers fade. Drought tolerant but not fussy about soil type as long as as it isn't waterlogged. Best in sun or light shade.

Price 5.00 (9cm pot)

Centaurea montana Purple Heart

Centaurea montana Purple Heart  2010 SpecialPerennials.com All rights reserved.

White cornflowers with eye-catching purple centres. The flowers are very attractive to bees. Very floriferous from May to October in flushes. Drought tolerant but not fussy about soil type. Best in sun or light shade.

Price 5.00 (9cm pot)

We also grow Centaurea montana "Amethyst in Snow" (see above) which is very similar (possibly identical) to "Purple Heart".

Centaurea montana Violetta

Bold, royal purple cornflowers. The flowers are very attractive to bees. The fresh leaves are attractively covered in silver hairs. Reaches about 1ft 6in-2ft / 45-60cm and is more clump forming and upright than other montana varieties. Flowers from May through the summer if cut back hard after flowers fade. Drought tolerant but not fussy about soil type. Best in sun or light shade.

Price 5.00 (9cm pot) Available to order for spring delivery

Centaurea orientalis

Yellow flowers from exquisite pale bronze buds. About 2ft 6in tall. Best in sun. Excellent bee and butterfly plant. Native to Southeast Europe.

Price 5.00 (9cm pot) available to order for spring delivery

Centaurea pulchra Major - see Stemmacantha

Centaurea scabiosa

Centaurea scabiosa

British native wildflower with large pink flowers from impressive scaly buds. About 3-4ft tall. Best in sun. Excellent bee and butterfly plant.

This is another Centaurea that benefits from a hard cutback after the flowers fade, quickly producing more flowers.

Price: 5.00 (9cm pot) Available to order for spring delivery

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