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How to grow Scabiosa stellata

How to grow Scabiosa stellata

As humans, we have been fascinated by geometric shapes since the first record of our existence. We all admired the beautiful structures of snow crystals as children and marveled at the remarkably symmetrical honeycomb of the bee, each tiny cell a perfect hexagon.
Many of these geometric shapes look too perfect to be real, and while some mathematicians and scientists may refer to mathematics as the “mysterious code that underpins the world,” most gardeners are familiar with the perfect geometry found in nature can be found.

The papery bracts of Scabiosa stellata are an example of perfect geometry and add a new shape to the garden. This highly unusual plant produces delicate pale blue spherical flower heads but is mainly grown for the following seed heads.
Rising vertically from the base of the plant on long stalks, attractive pale blue flowers are followed by translucent, papery, conical bracts that accompany the mature seed. They are grouped together to suggest a delicate, light geodesic sphere. In the center of each cone, the flower remnants open into a perfect, thinly elongated star.
Also known as paper moons or starflowers, the everlasting seed heads make excellent cut flowers and are perfect for dried arrangements. They are striking in a bridal bouquet or as a cluster alone in a vase.

Sowing: Sow in spring March to April or September to October
Sow indoors in late March to early April, three to four weeks before planting outdoors. Alternatively, seeds can be sown directly where you want them to flower once the soil warms up in mid to late April. Plants typically take around 75 to 80 days from seed to flowering. Seeds can also be sown for early summer flowering next year from September to October.

Indoor sowing:
Sow in pots or trays with moist seed compost and cover with a very fine sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Keep the soil moderately moist during germination, which takes around 7 to 10 days at temperatures between 15 and 20 °C (59 to 68 °F). When they are big enough, transplant the seedlings into small pots to grow on. Allow 10 to 15 days to acclimate to outdoor conditions before planting out 15 cm (6 in) apart after any chance of frost.

Sowing direct:
Prepare the soil well and rake it up fine. If sowing for several years in the same bed, mark and label the sowing areas with a sand ring. Sow 3 mm (1/8 in) deep in rows 30 cm (12 in) apart. Sow seeds sparingly or they will smother other seedlings.
Water the soil regularly, especially during dry periods. Seedlings appear in rows about 6 to 8 weeks after planting and can be easily distinguished from nearby weed seedlings. Thin out the seedlings so that they end up being 12 inches (30 cm) apart. Carefully transplant thinned plants.

Cultivation:
All scabious prefer a well-drained soil and a sunny location. Water only during prolonged drought and do not fertilize too much, as flowering is suppressed.
Deadhead to prolong flowering and encourage new flower buds. At the end of the season, do not uproot wilted plants too quickly. Birds love to nibble on their seed heads in the fall, and the seeds they miss may fall to the ground and reward you next year by sprouting into a whole new crop.

cut flowers:
Scabiosa is a cut-and-return bloomer, meaning that the sooner you cut the flowers, the sooner new buds will emerge to replace them. The flowers appear so lush that you will still have plenty of color in the garden after picking. Cut flower stalks can be harvested when the flower shows color. Immediately place the stems in warm water. Shelf life in the vase: 8 to 10 days.

Use of plants:
Cottage/Informal Garden, floral arrangement, borders and beds. butterflies and bees.