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Pincushion flower for bouquets.

Pincushion flower for bouquets

For an old-fashioned cut flower, try scabiosa or pincushion flower. Annual and perennial forms can attain a height of 2 1/2 to 3 feet and sport rounded heads of bloom on long wiry stems. Foliage ranges from gray-green to bright green. Plants bloom freely from midsummer until winter.

The annual Scabiosa atropurpurea (also sold as S. grandiflora) comes in the widest range of colors, which include white, pink, rose, red, lavender, and purple. Each bloom is packed with petals (see photograph above) and topped with protruding stamens that give the pincushion effect. In frost-free areas, plants may survive the winter to bloom again.

S. caucasica is the most widely available of the perennial species. It produces blooms that have a somewhat flatter shape, with fewer petals than the annuals. Flowers tend to be broader--up to 3 1/2 inches across--and colors include white, pale to deep blue, and lavender.

You can plant seeds now--the annual will bloom by summer, the perennial not until next year. Start seeds in flats and transplant when plants have developed at least two or three true leaves.

You can find annual seeds at many nurseries. For perennial seeds or plants, check your favorite mail-order catalog. Plants are sometimes available at nurseries.

Put scabiosa in a sunny spot. To ensure fast-draining soil, prepare it with plenty of organic matter. Feed lightly during the bloom season, and remove spent flowers for longest bloom. Pick for fresh flowers, or use them dried. To dry, cut before fully open and hang them upside-down.

Photo: Puffball blooms of pincushion flower blend well with lacy baby's breath for bouquets
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:May 1, 1986
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