About Polka Dot Cornflower: These bright blossoms once grew wild in the fields of the United Kingdom and southern Europe, though they have become very rare in recent times because of the changing landscape and new farming techniques. This species was first recorded for botanical records in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus. While the genus name “Centaurea” comes from Greek mythology, the common name of Bachelor’s Button comes from the tradition of young men wearing the flower as a sign of love. They were also called cornflowers because of their abundant growth in farmers’ fields. At one time the blossoms were made into a temporary dye most often used for tinting frosting, sugar, or candies.
Polka Dot Cornflower Germination: Direct sow in late fall or early spring, planting the seeds thinly and 1/4” deep. In the spring, keep the soil moist after sowing; germination should occur within 7-10 days. To start indoors, plant three or four seeds 1/4” below the surface in individual peat pots. Keep the soil lightly moist and at a temperature of 65-70 degrees F until germination; thin to the strongest seedlings. Transplant the seedlings before they reach a height of 5”, placing them 9-12” apart. This plant prefers rather sandy soil.
Growing Polka Dot Cornflower Seeds: Water seedlings occasionally until they become established. Mature plants tolerate drought, but prefer adequate moisture and may need occasional watering. Prune off developing tips to force the plant to produce more branches and fuller growth, as well as more flowers. If the stems begin to fall over, provide support. Deadhead spent blossom for the most abundant flowers, keeping in mind that the latest blossoms will need be left in order to produce seed; though an annual, it will reseed easily to produce volunteer plants. This plant attracts butterflies and bees, in addition to providing nutritious seed for birds. Cornflower grows well in containers as well as in the garden.
Harvesting Polka Dot Cornflower: Cornflowers make excellent cut flowers, and usually have a vase life of 4-5 days. When dried, the flowers retain their color and make a good addition to dried flower arrangements or potpourri. To dry the flowers, choose blossoms that have just begun blooming; pick them as soon as the dew has dried. Bundle the stems and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated, dark place for about 2 weeks.
Saving Polka Dot Cornflower Seeds: After the flower fades, the tiny oblong seeds will form. As soon as the seed can easily be removed, it is mature. Remove the dried seed heads and rub them lightly to separate the seed from the husk. Store the seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Polka Dot Cornflower Info: Origin: Southern Europe Other Common Names: Bachelor's Button Duration: Annual Bloom Time: Summer Height: 12-18 inches Spacing: 9-12 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 3a-9b Seeds Per Oz: 6,000 Produces grayish green, blade-like foliage and long stems topped by a 1” circlet of tiny flowers in white, purple, pink, red, and blue.