Facts About The Popular Pincushion Flower
The pincushion flower, Scabiosa columnaria, has long been a favorite in the flower garden. Most gardeners probably know it as the scabiosa, as that is the name under which it's usually sold. Once the plant is seen in blossom however, it becomes quite obvious where the name pincushion flower comes from. It is readily available in most plant stores or where ever seed packets are sold. The scabiosa comes both in perennial and annual varieties.
Grows In Most Locations - One of the reasons for the popularity of the pincushion flower, besides its appearance, is that it can be successfully grown in most areas. It is hardy in USDA zones 3 though 9. Though like most summer flowers, it likes sun, but tends to do well in partial shade also. Most often grown as a perennial, the plant will produce year after year. Quite often it will need to be thinned out and, as it will readily seed itself, it can become a rather invasive member of the flower garden if not kept in check.
Gardeners keep pincushion flowers in their garden , not only for the attractive and somewhat unusually shaped heads, but for the variety of colors as well. The stamens protrude well beyond the curved surface of the ball shaped heads, giving the impression of a number of pins systematically placed in a regular pattern in a pincushion. The scabiosa is one of the longer blooming plants in the flower garden. It will start blooming in mid-summer and, if the spent flowers are removed, will usually continue to bloom until winter. The pincushion flower will often continue blooming even after several frosts, though a hard freeze will bring the growing season to an end. It is an attractive plant either in mass plantings or mixed in with other flowers. Bees and butterflies are highly attracted to this flower. Blossoms come in a variety of colors with white and pink being most common, but lavender, yellow, and blue colors are not all that difficult to find. Black or nearly black colors, can be a bit of a challenge to find, but are quite stunning, and a search through the seed catalogs will usually be successful if you'd like a few of these in your garden.
Culture And Varieties - The pincushion flower will give the best results in a soil that is either neutral to mildly alkaline, but is not terribly fussy in that regard. The plant likes a little room, so thin or transplant about 16 inches apart. You'll be rewarded with plants growing to a height of 2 to 3 feet. One popular variety is the "Mourning Bride". Though normally grown as an annual, this variety will grow as a perennial in mild winter areas. It features 2" flower clusters on long, wiry stems, in rose, white, salmon pink and purplish black. "Caucasica" is one of the more common perennial varieties, noted for its long blooming period (June until frost) and as an excellent provider of blue, bluish lavender, and white cut flowers. If yellow is your choice, the variety "ochroleuca" should be suit you. This variety is a biennial, or a short-lived perennial. If your goal is to collect some attractive dried flowers, consider the variety "stellata", with its pale blue flowers that when dry, turn to a papery bronze.
Easy To Grow And To Propagate - While the scabiosa can be propagated by dividing the root ball, it is generally sown from seed. Perennial varieties are best sown from seed in the fall, but can be sown from seed in the spring as well, which would be the proper approach when growing one of the annual varieties. Unless you grow a hybrid variety, you can save the seeds from your own plants. If collected after the pods have dried, and the seeds are kept clean, they will keep well. If you collect seeds from a hybrid variety they may be sterile, or may produce a plant that is not true to its parent plant.