Sweet Pea Specialists
Centaurea cyanus - Cornflowers
Cornflowers may be an old fashion annual but it will never be out of fashion. These delicate papery flowers are a staple for cottage gardens and meadow gardens.
Centaurea cyanus are annuals that flower during spring and summer. Plants grow to at least 90cm adding height and movement to the garden as they sway in the breeze. These plants have an upright habit with long grey/green leaves and produce flowers in a rich range of colours. One of the standout colours is its dazzling blue.
Cornflowers attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects to the garden. Since Cornflowers are also classed as herbs and their flowers are edible, I like to include them in my kitchen and herb gardens. Adding plants that attract pollinating insects like bees to your kitchen garden will increase your harvest.
The flowers are described as having spicy, clove-like flavour with a subtle sweetness. Whole flowers are mainly used to decorate cakes and other sweets. Whereas the petals are used in salads or sprinkled over food like confetti. Cornflowers are very easy to oven dry. I place the whole flower upside down on baking paper (after the stem has been removed) and place in the oven (100 to 150C) for approximately 15 minutes. When the flowers are completely dried the petals will easily fall off. The dried petals can then be stored in glass containers in a dark cupboard. If stored correctly these dried flowers will last until the next season.
Cornflowers need to be grown in full sun but can handle a bit of afternoon shade. Plants prefer rich, well drained soil, on the alkaline side, with a pH of 7.2 to 7.8.
These are excellent cut flowers and dried flowers. The dried flowers will retain their colour. Just like sweet peas, cornflowers need to be cut constantly for a long flowering period. Harvest the flowers early in the morning. Cut the flowers just before they open fully – the centre of the flower should still be dipped inwards slightly. Immediately set the stems in a jar of warm water. Later, strip the stems of lower leaves and arrange the flowers in a vase with fresh water. Cornflowers will last up to 7 days.
To dry Cornflowers, hang in bunches in a dark space for a couple of weeks, checking daily. To learn more about drying flowers check out our bog post - Dried Flowers & Seed Pods
Sow seeds direct for the best results in spring after the last frost or in autumn, barely covering the seeds, in full sun or part shade. I broadcast my seeds. Keep moist through to germination and while growing. Cornflowers prefer a cooler climate but will tolerate summer heat. Plants may need some support.
Our Mixes that contain Cornflowers
Got the Blue Flower Mix including Sweet Pea Seeds