Caucasian pincushion flowers carry the natural charm of a flower meadow into the bed. Their blossoms bob gracefully in the summer wind and attract bees and butterflies as if by magic.
Profile of Caucasian pincushion flower:
Scientific name: Scabiosa caucasica
Plant family: honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae); Order: teasel family (Dipsacaceae)
Other names: pincushion-flower, Caucasian scabious
Sowing time: inhouse: from February / outdoors: end of February/beginning of March
Planting time: spring or late summer
Flowering period: June to October
Soil quality: sandy to loamy, calcipholous, nutrient rich, humus rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: flower beds, flower bouquets, flower meadows, single position, group planting, flower garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 4 (-32 °C / -25 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of Caucasian pincushion flower
Plant order, origin and occurrence of Caucasian pincushion flower
The Caucasian pincushion flower belongs to the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae) and to the order of the teasel family (Dipsacaceae). In nature, the species Scabiosa caucasica occurs in Iran, Turkey and the Caucasus. The term scabiosa or scabious, as in one of the plants name, Caucasian scabious, is due to the fact that in earlier times these plants were used as a remedy for Caucasian pincushion flower. The success was rather moderate.
Characteristics of Caucasian pincushion flower
With its loosely arranged stiff stems, which branch just above the ground, it resembles a small shrub. Caucasian pincushion flower grows between 60 and 80 centimeters (24 and 32 in) high.
The grey-green, slightly hairy leaves of the Caucasian pincushion flower are lanceolate in shape and have a smooth edge. They stand basal on the stems, where they form a tuft.
The bowl-shaped, about 7 centimeters (2.8 in) large flowers of the Caucasian pincushion flower grow on long, branched stems. The perennial also attracts bees and butterflies as a popular source of nectar. The bowls with the large silky petals and the small inner flowers, which stand close together and resemble a pincushion, bloom from July to October. Depending on the variety, they shine in many shades of blue and violet and in white. Towards the middle of the flower the base color usually lightens.
Caucasian pincushion flower – cultivation and care
It needs a warm, sunny place to develop its full beauty.
A permeable, fresh, nutrient-rich garden soil offers optimal living conditions for the Caucasian pincushion flower. It should also be neutral to alkaline. It does not tolerate waterlogging and acidic terrain.
Planting and Sowing Caucasian pincushion flower
Young perennials are best planted in the bed in spring or late summer. The distance between the small plants should be about 35 centimeters (14 in). After inserting the Caucasian pincushion flower into the planting hole, fill in the soil around the young plants again, press carefully and water well.
In most cases, Caucasian pincushion flower are set as perennials because they require little effort and reliably sprout anew each year. However, some particularly beautiful varieties are also available as annuals and are usually grown from seeds on the windowsill in late winter. When buying, make sure that the shoot is well rooted and that the roots show no signs of rot. In spring, no leaves have yet formed, so the plant may look a bit unsightly. However, this will change after it has grown, and it will soon develop its full beauty.
- Sow the seeds already at the end of February on the windowsill in a protected atmosphere
- Cover the growing pots with foil and open them once a day to change the air
- keep moderately warm – 20° C / 68° F – until the seedlings are about 8 cm tall and have two pairs of leaves, then prick
- put in the garden only after the last frost
- they can be sown on the spot from mid/end of March
The Caucasian pincushion flower loves full sun and yet only needs water during long dry periods. It should be watered in the evening hours. This prevents the plant from developing sunburn due to drops of water on the leaves and flowers. In addition, it has sufficient opportunity to extract and process the water during the night. As an exception, watering can also be done in the early morning hours. In this case, however, there is a risk that the water will evaporate too quickly during the day.
Fertilization is essential for the plant to bloom abundantly and persistently. It makes sense to use a long-term fertilizer whose nutrients are stored, like ripe compost or horn shavings. If you want to transplant or divide it, you can also mix in compost when you dig it up.
If you regularly cut off the flowered heads, you prolong the flowering period of Caucasian pincushion flower. The scissors should be placed at the next branch of the stems
It is worth taking Caucasian pincushion flower out of the bed after three to five years and dividing it. Because then they come to an age where they grow and flower less. The best time to divide is in spring, before the perennial sprouts. Rejuvenation is easy. You simply have to divide the root ball with a spade or knife. Then you put the pieces back into the ground.
For perennial plants, the easiest way to propagate is by dividing. For this purpose, the perennial is dug up in spring and cut with a sharp knife. With some varieties, the roots can also be carefully pulled apart by hand. A division is always useful if the plants have been in the same location for some time and the flowering pleasure is diminishing. By dividing the plant, it will develop anew and blossom abundantly again. Certain varieties such as Clive Greaves can only be propagated by division; cuttings or seed extraction are not possible here.
Another possibility is the sowing of purchased or self obtained seeds. Usually it makes sense to remove the flowers immediately after withering, so that the plant does not waste energy in the development of seeds. Instead, the plant will produce new flowers. However, if you want to have seeds, you should wait until the seeds have formed from the small flower heads. They can already be sown at the end of February/beginning of March.
Caucasian pincushion flower can also be propagated by cultivating cuttings in certain varieties. For this purpose, a 5 cm (2 in) long cutting is cut off the mother plant and put into a substrate. Covered with foil and kept moist, roots can develop, after about 6 – 8 weeks the first shoots should show, then the cuttings have grown. As soon as the first leaves appear, the cuttings are successfully grown and can be placed in the garden in good weather.
Perennials from specialist shops or homegrown cuttings can be planted from spring to autumn.
Annual plants often seed themselves.
Diseases and pests
Fortunately, Caucasian pincushion flower rarely has to fight with pests or diseases. However, waterlogging can lead to its death because the roots rot and the plant dies. However, this can be easily prevented by loose soil and possibly drainage. Since it attracts numerous insects with its colors and often also with its scent, there is hardly any danger of infestation with aphids or other pests.
Scabiosa caucasica survives with its overwintering buds on the surface of the soil. A blanket of leaves is sufficient to protect them from the icy winter cold.
Use in the garden
As a habitant of meadows, the Caucasian pincushion floweris perfectly suited for natural-looking borders. But it also feels very comfortable in tubs. As a cut flower it has made a good name for itself due to its long durability. It can be combined very nicely with many perennials and ornamental grasses. Among them are the blazing star (Liatris), torch lily (Kniphofia), yarrow (Achillea ptarmica), eastern bottlebrush grass (Hystrix patula), whorled tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata), baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) or feather grass (Stipa).
- ‘Alba’: white flowers, 40 to 50 cm (16 to 20 in) high
- ‘Clive Greaves’: pale violet flowers, 90 centimeters (36 in) high,
- ‘Perfecta’: dark lavender blue flowers, 70 cm (28 in) high
- ‘Staefa’: deep purple flowers with a whitish shimmer in the center, 80 centimeters (32 in) high
- Scabiosa columbaria: lavender blue, 30 – 40 cm (12 to 16 in) high
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