It's the summer of cornflowers
We’ve got the perfect addition to your summer garden – cornflowers! Coming in deep blues and shades of pink, maroon and white, these ruffled flowers make a lovely addition to a border or garden path.
With some tips from our friends at BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, you’ll be able to get growing in no time. Need some more inspiration? If you visited BBC Gardeners’ World Live, you would have seen Paul Stone’s headline A Garden Fit for a King, which featured an array of beautiful cornflowers. Scroll below to see the gallery.
What’s more, if you’re looking for even more garden inspiration for the season ahead, why not make a date for the BBC Gardeners’ World Autumn Fair at Audley End House & Gardens from 1-3 September.
Growing and caring for cornflowers
Grow cornflowers in sun and well-drained soil, sowing seed directly into weed-free ground or into pots, in spring. Thin out the resulting seedlings. After that, little care is needed apart from deadheading to encourage more blooms.
Grow cornflowers as a gap-filler in any bare spots in borders, as part of a seed mix to create an annual flowering meadow, or in pots. Well-drained soil is best, and sun for at least half the day. Cornflowers do best in soil with low fertility so there’s no need to add fertilizer or organic matter.
Cornflowers in pots need a general-purpose , peat-free potting compost mixed with a third by volume of coarse grit. Shorter-growing varieties are best for pots as taller ones tend to flop without support. Be aware that cornflowers bloom for around 10-12 weeks, which isn’t as long as many summer-flowering bedding plants.
Ideally, sow seeds directly where plants are to flower. Otherwise sow in seed trays and harden them off before planting out in spring, spaced 15cm apart.
Remove faded flower heads to encourage more blooms to form. Once flowering is over, you can pull up and compost the plants, or leave them to self seed and provide food for birds such as goldfinches.
Cornflowers usually self-seed readily, but if you want to save the seed, collect it from the faded flowers. Store the seed in an envelope and sow from early spring to early summer, 0.5-1cm deep, either in drills, or simply by scattering the seed and lightly raking to cover with soil. Thin the resulting seedlings to 10-15cm apart. Making several sowings throughout spring will ensure a succession of flowers through summer.
If ground or weather conditions do not permit outdoor sowing, an alternative is to sow in modular trays or small pots under cover in an unheated greenhouse or polythene tunnel.
Find garden inspiration for the season ahead at the BBC Gardeners’ World Autumn Fair at Audley End House & Gardens from 1-3 September.