The Cornflower, also known scientifically as Centaurea (sent-ta-REE-a), is an annual plant that produces colourful, lightly fragrant flowers in shades of white, blue, pink, red and purple. These fringed flowers can be single or double bloom with narrow, greyish-green leaves and slightly hairy stems. They can grow to be 10 inches to 2.5 ft tall, depending on the species. The plant is native to Europe and belongs to the same family as daisies and sunflowers, the Asteraceae.
Cornflowers are popular in wildflower gardens and would be ideal as borders in garden beds. These old-fashioned flowers are easy to grow, drought-tolerant and can tolerate most soil conditions. In fact, in some areas, they are considered weeds for their tendency to self-seed. Sow the seeds in the spring or the fall; the flowering period is from June to September. Plant in full sun in well drained soil. Taller varieties should be staked.
The intense blue flowers of the Centaurea cyanus is the most popular cultivated variety and would look visually stunning planted with the brightly-coloured nasturtiums, marigolds or poppies. Deadheading is highly recommended to encourage new blooms.
Taller cornflowers make excellent fresh cut flowers and will last 4-5 days; they would look beautiful paired with snapdragons, sweet william, love-in-a-mist and lavender. They also do particularly well as dried flowers, as they are able to retain their the bright hues. The petals can be added to potpourri.
Climate Zones: 3-10
Fun Facts About Cornflower:
- Other Common Names: Bachelor’s Buttons, Blue Bottle
- The flowers are edible and have a sweet, cucumber-like taste.
- It can be used to make tea.
- The name cornflower comes from the fact the flowers grow abundantly in corn fields in Europe and the U.S.
- Cornflowers have been used in traditional herbal medicine as an anti-inflammatory.
- These colourful flowers tend to attract bees and butterflies because of their high nectar content.
- C. solstitialis and C. maculosa are major honey plants for beekeepers; honey from these flowers is considered to be one of the best.
- Cornflower is the national flower of Estonia.
- When mixed with alum, the blue cornflower can be used as a dye.
- Cornflower (okanaganartist.wordpress.com)