Scabiosa: Sweet scabious

Height 45-90cm (18-36in)

Planting distance 23cm (9in)

Flowers mid summer to early autumn

Fertile well-drained soil

Open sunny site

Hardy annual

The sweet scabious (Scabiosa atro- purpurea) is an airy graceful plant. Its closely packed fragrant flowers (in shades of blue, mauve, purple, red, pink and white) are carried on slender stems 90cm (3ft) tall. Its foliage is elegantly divided. The plant is ideal both for cutting and for a border.

Popular varieties

Several popular varieties have been developed from Scabiosa atropurpurea. ‘Blue Moon’ has lavender-blue flowers, excellent for cutting. Left, the flowers fade to attractive papery blue-eyed seed heads. ‘Dwarf Double Mixed’ is a short variety reaching just 45cm (18in) high, but it carries large fragrant flowers in mixed colours. ‘Stellata’ is a 75cm (30in) high plant with silvery blue flowers which develop into attractive large round seed heads with a greenish, spiny, star-like centre. These are excellent for dried flower arrangements.


Sow the seeds in the flowering site in early autumn or early to mid spring. They grow in any fertile well-drained soil in an open sunny site. Protect autumn-sown seedlings with cloches over winter. Thin out all the seedlings in spring to 23cm (9in) apart.

Stake tall varieties in windy situations. To encourage further flowering, cut the stems at the first joint as blooms fade.

Pests and diseases

Slugs and snails often damage young plants. Root rot may cause the plants to collapse and powdery mildew may appear on the leaves.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Scabiosa: Sweet scabious


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