How to Grow Cephalaria Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Scabious

Cephalaria is a hardy perennial. It is large and can flower up to 2m (7 feet) in height.

Cephalaria has the common name of Scabious.

It flowers in the summer with yellow cup-shaped flowers.

As it is a large plant Cephalaria should be grown at the back of borders.

Cephalaria gigantea
Cephalaria gigantea by Leonora Enking.

Cephalaria by Sharon K.

Cephalaria Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Cephalaria, Scabious
Family: Caprifoliaceae.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial
Height: 32 to 80 inches (80 to 200 cm).
Native: Europe, Asia, Africa.

Growing Region: Zones 3 to 9.
Flowers: Summer.
Flower Details: Yellow, cream. Cup-shaped.
Foliage: Herbaceous. Ovate. Opposite. Dark Green.

Sow Outside: Seeds: 1/4 inch (6 mm). Spring. Spacing 24 to 36 inches (60 to 90 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: 3 weeks to 2 months. Temperature 55 to 65°F (13 to 18°C). Late winter. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.

Requirements: Full sunlight or partial shade. Cephalaria grows in most soils; best results in moist and poorer soil. Regular watering. Provide support. Cut back once flowering has completed. Divide after two or three years to maintain vigour. Propagate: by dividing at the beginning of spring.
Miscellaneous: Attracts bumble bees, moths, and butterflies.

How to Grow Cephalaria plants in the Garden

If planning to grow Cephalaria plants outdoors from seeds, then they should be sown at a depth of 7 mm in the spring.

They prefer a partially shaded or sunny area of the garden that has moist soil.

If you are planning to first grow seedlings indoors then they should be started towards the end of winter.

They take around three to eight weeks to germinate at about 15 degrees Celsius (59°F). Seeds that do not germinate can be advanced by subjecting them to three weeks or so of stratification in a refrigerator.

Scabious should be planted outside with a spacing of about 60 to 80 cm (24 to 31 inches).

Caring for Cephalaria

Cephalaria are easy to look after but do require regular watering.

Due to their height Cephalaria plants should be staked in windy areas.

Once flowering has finished, they should be cut back, and every three years the plant should be divided to maintain vigour.

If proagating, then dividing the plant is also a good way of producing further Cephalaria plants, and should be done in the spring.

Common Questions

How many members does the Cephalaria genus have?

The Cephalaria genus includes about 89 species, including the towering Yellow Scabious.

Do members of Cephalaria make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Cephalaria species like Yellow Scabious can add height and drama to borders with their large, pale yellow flowers.

Which Cephalaria species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most frequently grown is Cephalaria gigantea (Yellow Scabious), a tall plant with airy, pale-yellow blooms.

Are members of the Cephalaria plant genus fragrant?

Cephalaria plants are not particularly noted for their fragrance. Their appeal lies in their height and charming flowers.

What is the perfect location to grow Cephalaria?

Cephalaria prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. They are perfect for the back of a sunny border.

Is Cephalaria invasive in the USA?

Presently, Cephalaria is not considered invasive in the USA. It's a tall perennial often used in borders and cottage gardens.

How do I remove Cephalaria plants from my garden?

To remove Cephalaria, dig up the plant, ensuring all root fragments are removed as they could potentially regrow.


The Cephalaria genus, part of the Caprifoliaceae family, is native to Eurasia and North Africa. These perennial plants are recognized for their large, yellow, pin-cushion-like flowers that bloom in summer, and their tall, airy growth habit.

To cultivate Cephalaria, plant them in a sunny to partially shaded location with well-drained soil. They can be grown from seeds or divisions. Regular watering is necessary. They are often used in borders, meadow gardens, or as cut flowers for their tall stature and attractive blooms.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Cephalaria plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ Caprifoliaceae growing guides: How to grow Weigela florida and Patrinia plants.