Corn Flower/Bachelor's Button (Centaurea cyanus)

Corn Flower/Bachelor's Button (Centaurea cyanus)

The cornflowers are very popular for cottage gardens, meadow gardens and flower beds. They are dependable and easy to take care of. They also make fine cut flowers or long lasting dried flowers.These cheerful, ragged blossoms are at home in temperate gardens around the world. They bloom so prolifically with so little care that they often are the first plants that children grow on their own.
The nickname "cornflower" comes from the fact that the plant grows wild in the grain fields of southern Europe. When Napoleon forced Queen Louise of Prussia from Berlin, she hid her children in a cornfield and kept them entertained and quiet by weaving wreaths of cornflowers. One of her children, Wilheim, later became the emperor of Germany. Remembering his mother's bravery, he made the cornflower a national emblem of unity.
Depending upon the variety, plants will grow to between 1 and 3 feet tall and are most effective when massed in beds and borders for color. Bachelor buttons are a cutting garden favorite, and they are one of the easiest flowers to dry for everlasting arrangements.

Sowing Bachelor Button Seeds
Bachelor buttons are easy to grow from seeds outdoors. Sow in spring, 1 to 2 weeks before the last expected frost, for early summer blooms. They can also be sown in fall in mild climates for early spring blooms.
Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch apart. The seeds need complete darkness to germinate, so make sure they are well covered. When seedlings are 1 to 2 inches tall, thin them to 6 to 8 inches apart. The first blooms appear 10 to 12 weeks after planting, and last for about a month. Successive plantings can extend the bloom period.

Will they come back next year?
Bachelor buttons are annuals, which means they complete their entire life cycle in a single year, and then die. But don't despair; they may be back next year! Bachelor buttons ensure their own survival by dropping seeds that will germinate and grow the following year in most climates. As with most annuals, keeping the spent flowers picked off will encourage the production of more flowers, but to allow them a chance to reseed, leave some of the last flowers to die naturally on the plant. This will give them a chance to drop seeds.
Seedling:   Stems below the cotyledons (hypocotyls) are stout and without hairs (glabrous).  Cotyledons are without hairs but the first true leaves have hairs and a grayish appearance.
Leaves: Leaves are narrow, approximately 2 to 6 inches long and   inch wide.  Due to the leaf appearance, these plants are often confused for a grass.   Leaves are alternate, linear in outline, and covered with long white hairs.   
Stems:   Erect, branching, and also covered with long white hairs.
Roots:  Taproot.
Fruit:  An achene that is approximately 4 mm long and 2 mm wide.
Flowers: Many solitary heads are produced on long flower stalks (pedicels).  Individual flower heads are approximately 1 to 2 inches wide and blue to purple, white, or pink in color.  
Identifying Characteristics:  Winter annual with leaves and stems that are covered with long white hairs and leaves that resemble a grass.  This weed is sometimes confused with both Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) and corn cockle (Agrostemma githago).  However, spotted knapweed forms a basal rosette of leaves during the first year of growth and its leaves are much more deeply lobed than those of cornflower.   Additionally, the leaves of corn cockle are joined across the stem and the stems of this plant are swollen at the nodes whereas neither of these characteristics occurs with  spotted knapweed or cornflower.

Average planting success with this species: 80%
Height: 2-3 feet
Germination: 7-25 days
Optimum soil temperature for germination: 60-70F
Sowing depth: 1/8"
Blooming period: March-May
Average seeds per pound: 96,000
Seeding rate: 4 lbs. per acre
Suggested use: Roadsides, vacant lots, borders, flower gardens.

Free Corn Flower/Bachelor's Button (Centaurea cyanus)

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