Scabiosa (pronounced with the accent on the ‘o’), or pincushion flower, is a classic English garden flower that’s easy to grow. The common name comes from the fact that the flower head looks like a rounded pincushion. The other common name of the flower is mournful widow or mourning widow, due to the dark purple flower head of the annual Scabiosa atropurpurea.
Scabiosa caucasica is the most commonly found species available today. It gets up to 2 feet tall and the flowers bloom all summer. It is usually available in lavender-blue flowers, pink, or white. Deadheading will prolong the flowering time.
Scabiosa (sometimes called scabious), are loved by butterflies and insects, so plant them if you want to invite these pollinators into your English garden.
How to grow Scabiosa
It likes full sun except in hotter areas of the country where it prefers partial shade.
It does best in zones 3-7. It will not do well in extremely hot or dry conditions.
Plant it out in late spring, in moist loamy soil with plenty of compost added to the planting hole.
If you’d like to grow them from seed, do it right outside in late spring. Sow seeds about ½ inch deep. It’s crucial to keep the soil constantly moist. Seedlings should emerge within two weeks. Thin the seedlings to about 1 foot apart. They probably won’t flower until the second year if you grow them from seed.
Scabiosa can be divided every three to five years. It’s a slow-grower, though, especially in hotter areas, so it doesn’t have to be divided that often.
They dry beautifully – just tie them together with some string or a rubber band and hang them upside down for a few weeks.
They are also beautiful as a cut flower in fresh flower arrangements.
What to plant with Scabiosa
Plant Scabiosa in groups of three or more near the front or middle of the garden bed for best effect.
Scabiosa look good when planted beside Sedums - try Autumn Joy – or near a spiky-flowered plant such as Veronica, liatris, lupines, rocket, or snapdragons. The blue flowers complement other pastels, so pair it with plants with yellow, pink or white flowers.
Click the 'Related Link' below to try a Scabiosa jigsaw puzzle