Centaurea - Growing Guide

Centaurea - Growing Guide

Knapweed, Hardheads, Perennial Cornflower

One of the most evocative and traditional plants to be found in so many English village gardens are knapweeds. A delight to bees, butterflies and insects Centaurea montana has the additional attribute of having blue flowers; blue being the colour so admired and welcomed by gardeners which does not occur in that many plants overall.

Knapweeds are fairly indestructible herbaceous border plants which can be found, in one form or another, in most herbaceous borders. The varieties which we offer in the nursery have been chosen for their resilience and colours.

All those we offer are rhizomatous perennials which die down in autumn and need a bit of clearing up then. They are happy in moist, well-drained, soil and in sun or partial shade but do not tolerate very dry conditions well. Lifting and dividing clumps in early spring is the easiest way of multiplying your stock of any particular variety.

C. montana is a stalwart of the genus and originates from mountainous areas. It has broadly lance shaped leaves and grows up to 15-20in although the clump can become larger. It has blue flower heads with red-violet florets which open in late spring and carry on through the summer. C. montana ‘Alba’ does the same with white flowers.

C. ‘Carminia’ has pinkish-purple flowers with attractive reclined or curling fringing.

C. ‘Purple Heart’ has purple centres but a white surround.

C. ‘Silver Feather’ grows more compactly than other forms and has lilac-pink flowers above frosted silver foliage. An attractive combination which we now offer on our website.


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