Growing Cornflowers, or Bachelor Buttons, in Your Garden

Cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) are also known as Bachelor Buttons (or bachelor’s buttons). They bear flowers in large quantities, in shades of lavender, pink, blue, maroon, and white. But photos can be deceiving. When I first started to grow cornflowers, I was surprised by how small the blossoms were (they’re no more than 1.5 inches in diameter).

Grow cornflowers, one of the prettiest annuals in the garden. They attract songbirds and beneficial insects, and are easy to grow.
Photo by Rich Herrmann/Flickr

The petals are slightly jagged, which I find delightful in a whimsical sort of way and so different from, say, the cool perfection of roses (also among my favorites). This slightly wild quality also means that Cornflowers look wonderful in cottage gardens, rock gardens, and meadow gardens. They always remind me of the trip I took to visit gardens in the Cotswolds, in England.

You can easily grow them from seed just by scattering them on the soil. The seeds are frost-tolerant, so you can plant them in early spring and in the fall, where the winters are mild. Their nectar is especially sweet and will attract beneficial insects and small birds, such as goldfinches. If you have rabbits in your yard, be prepared: they love to eat them, too.

Finally, if you’re a fan of Twinings’ Lady Grey tea (I am!), you’ll be tickled to know that cornflowers are one of the ingredients — as well as lemon, Bergamot, and Seville orange.

>>For a great article about how to care for cut flowers and foliage, check out the article by the University of Illinois Extension Service.

Grow Cornflowers: Plant Facts

TYPE: Annual

LIGHT REQUIRED: Full sun only

HEIGHT: 12 – 36 inches

SPREAD (WIDTH): 6 to 12 inches, but may require staking

FLOWER COLOR: White, pink, blue, burgundy, lavender

FOLIAGE COLOR: Bright to dark green

SEASONAL DETAILS: Cornflowers bloom from late June through August, but this extended time depends on your deadheading them.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Great for cutting
  • Great for drying
  • Can become invasive
  • Low maintenance
  • Self seeds
  • Attracts beneficial insects
  • Attracts songbirds

HOW TO PROPAGATE: Seeds

COMPANION PLANTINGS:

  • Daisies
  • Roses
  • Snapdragons
  • Pansies
  • Zinnias
  • Asters

Do you grow cornflowers? Got some tips to share?

Travis Neighbor Ward is an award-winning editor in chief, magazine and web writer, and a best-selling author of fiction and nonfiction. She has written extensively about interiors, lifestyle, travel, gardening, and health. To read more about her writing, visit www.travisnward.com.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here