How to Grow Scabiosa Plants

Guide to Growing Pincushion Flower & Scabious

The Scabiosa genus is large and so plants grown in the garden may be hardy annual, half hardy annual, hardy biennial or Hardy perennial in nature.

Scabiosa range in height from 15 to 60 cm.

They bloom from Summer through to the first months of autumn, and carry domed flowers of red, white, blue, purple, or yellow atop long stems.

As they are often mat forming they make ideal plants for use in garden borders.

Some of the common names for Scabiosa include, Scabious, Sweet Scabious, Pincushion flower, and Mourning-bride.

Scabiosa – Pincushion Flower by Photofarmer.

Scabiosa africana
Scabiosa africana by Easterbilby; Both photographs under creative commons.

Scabiosa Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Pincushion Flower, Scabious: Sweet; Mediterranean Sweet; Small; Glossy; Yellow; Southern. Egyptian Bride, Mourning Bride, Carmel Daisy, Starflower Pincushion.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual, hardy annual. Hardy biennial. Hardy perennial.
Height: 6 to 30 inches (15 to 75 cm).
Native: Europe, Asia, North Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10.
Flowers: Summer and autumn.
Flower Details: Blue, cream, lilac, red, yellow, purple/black. Multiple small flowers on a single stalk.
Foliage: Herbaceous. Odd Pinnate.
Sow Outside: Cover seed.
Annuals: following the last frost (cool areas) or in autumn (warm areas). Spacing 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm).
Perennials: beginning of spring or in autumn (warm areas). Spacing 14 to 18 inches (35 to 45 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: two weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C).
Annuals: Five weeks before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Perennials: two months in advance. Transplant outdoors just before the last frost or in autumn.
Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Soil pH 6.5 to 8. Humus. Moist soil. Provide protection or support for winds. Deadhead. Water to keep soil moist. Mulch with bark to maintain moisture. Perennials should be cut back to the ground in autumn. To maintain strength divide regularly. Propagate perennials: dividing at the start of spring or summer cuttings.
Family: Caprifoliaceae.
Miscellaneous: Produces a lot of nectar making it a very useful plant in a butterfly garden.

How to Grow Scabious and other Scabiosa in the Garden

The timing of the sowing of Scabiosa depends on their nature. Annuals are usually sown after the last frost, perennials may be sown at the start of spring or autumn.

Scabious seeds should be lightly covered once sown and spaced at about 30 to 40 cm apart.

They like to grow in sunny areas that have good drainage. Ideally the soil that Scabious grows in should be humus rich, slightly alkaline (pH 7 to 8) and moist.

The germination of Scabiosa seeds usually takes about two weeks, and can be done indoors at a temperature of 20 to 25 degrees.

If growing indoors first then sow annuals five weeks in advance and perennials about 10 weeks in advance.

Transplant annual Scabiosa following the last frost of spring, and perennial varieties in late autumn or before the last frost of spring.

Caring for Scabiosa Plants such as Scabious

It is easy to look after members of the Scabiosa genus such as Scabious and Pincushion flower

They should be staked in windy areas, as they have delicate wiry stems. Keep the soil moist in summer. Deadhead flowers once they have finished blooming. Cut the Scabiosa plants back at the end of the growing season in autumn.

It is necessary to divide the plants every two or three years to maintain vigorous growth. If you require more plants then divide perennial Scabiosa at the start of spring, or take cuttings in the summertime.

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