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Plant Care

How to Grow Scabious

Grow scabious, the captivating summer bloom affectionately known as the pincushion flower, and transform your garden into a haven of beauty. Master the art of growing scabious, including how to grow scabious from seed, and delve into the essentials of scabious plant care. This perennial favourite thrives either as an annual or a perennial, adorning gardens with its uniquely charming flowers. Perfect for a wildflower feel, scabious seamlessly integrates into manicured borders, cottage and gravel gardens, and wildflower mixes. Boasting a colour spectrum from pristine white to near black, it serves as a great filler among grasses and other flowering perennials and annuals. The nectar-rich flowers attract lots of pollinators, while their seeds are a treat for birds. Scabious also shines in cut flower arrangements. Read on for planting scabious tips, from sowing scabious seeds to tips to keep the flower heads alive longer.

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Grow Scabious From Seed

To successfully sow scabious seeds, start with the annual varieties in autumn, placing them under cover to overwinter. Initially, sow the seeds in trays. Once the seedlings grow robust enough, transfer them to pots. As spring unfurls, relocate these young plants to their permanent spot in the garden. Scabious is a generous seed producer, with varieties like the field scabious offering around 2,000 seeds per plant, capable of thriving in soil for several years. Make the most of this bounty by collecting seeds from your annual scabious in autumn, ready for the next season's sowing. When it comes to perennial scabious, opt for propagation via division. Splitting the clumps every three to four years in early spring will ensure their continued health and vibrancy.

Sow annual varieties in autumn undercover.

What Scabious Needs

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Protection: Mulch around plants, which helps seal in moisture around the roots to avoid mildew in hot weather. Position: Grow scabious in full sun or partial shade, ensuring moist, well-drained soil. Watering: Water scabious well in long periods of drought.

Growing Scabious Across the Season

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Spring

Plant scabious in full sun or light shade. Water regularly. Annual types bloom, perennials and biennials grow.

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Summer

Continue watering scabious. Deadhead to encourage more blooms. Watch for self-seeding in annuals.

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Autumn

Sow scabious seeds in trays. Perennials and biennials prepare for dormancy. Keep weed-free for clear growth.

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Winter

Keep seedlings under cover. Protect established scabious from severe cold. Minimise watering during dormancy

Scabious S.O.S.

Scabious plants are generally resilient to pests and diseases. However, during hot summers, they might be susceptible to powdery mildew. To combat this, mulch around the plants with well-rotted organic matter to retain soil moisture and protect the roots. For the taller varieties of scabious, staking may be necessary to support their growth. Regular deadheading is recommended to promote more flowering and prolong the blooming season. Come autumn, you have the option to either collect seeds for future planting and cut back the plants, or leave the seed heads as they are to provide food for birds.

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Mulch to avoid powdery mildew in summer.