Scabiosa – Pincushion Flowers

Such an ignoble name for otherwise billowy and pretty, bee and butterfly attracting plants: in early summer through to autumn, these little perennials have helped add a delicate appearance to the garden with little rounded flowers held high above the foliage.

I’ve a few dotted around the garden:

At 50cm/20″ tall, S. columbaria (or small scabious) is great towards the front of the border, S. ochuleuca grows a little taller, at 1m, and I use it to complement other plants.

Hailing from the temperate parts of South Africa through to Western Asia, these perennials tolerate a hot dry site with ease, but of course perform all the better with a bit of moisture and enriched soil. I always dead-head to extend the flowering season (and the life of the plant). Most Scabiosa are hardy to USDA zone 4/5 (-30°C/-25°F), but need winter drainage to perform well.

Once these start to establish, they are easily lifted and divided in the early spring to form new clumps. In fact, to keep them at their best, they need dividing every few years.

Of course, these are but a few of the dozens & dozens of varieties of pincushion plants, so it could become very addictive trying to get them all!

Happy Gardening 🙂


25 thoughts on “Scabiosa – Pincushion Flowers

  1. LOVE Scabiosa! Just a great plant, why don’t I have more of it? Blue flowers, easy care, great for bees. Mixed feelings about the big Knautia macedonica pincushion flowers, though. I like them, but they are a bit gangly and difficult to get rid of.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had forgotten about these! Thanks for the reminder. I always thought that was an “ignoble name” too, lol. Pincushion flower is much nicer. In the past, I havent had much luck with them but they are definitely worth another try.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know how well they would go when buried under 2′ of snow. I had difficulty with them in my old Sydney garden, but I think that was the heavy soil combined with high summer humidity. Hopefully they will last here

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My favorites are the S. caucasia ‘Fama Blue’ and ‘Fama White’ but they don’t seem to be long-lived here – perhaps too dry and too hot? I haven’t tried S. columbaria in awhile so maybe I’ll try those again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You guys in the US are lucky to have the blue varieties available, it seems to be white, pink or mauve here. I recall seeing the USDA hardiness reading 5-9, so I guess they might need some winter chill more than anything else


    • I used to have an impossible time growing these when I lived in Sydney, but I put it down to the humidity in summer and the lack of winter freezing. Here they have all done really well and formed nice healthy clumps, so fingers crossed they’ll keep going


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