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Spring Flowers: Pincushion

Like Bachelor Buttons, I started growing pincushion/scabiosa when I began learning about cool flowers. Scabiosa are a great addition to mixed bouquets as they lend an airy and delicate texture to an arrangement. Scabiosa are loved by pollinators. I find bees sleeping on blooms and butterflies perched on the flowers during the summer.

Our story

I had never seen pincushion before I grew them. Once they were blooming in my field, I fell in love and incorporated them into bouquets every week. Their whimsical form makes me happy. I especially like working with the darker flowers. They offer a pop of color that grounds the bouquet and offers a place for your eye to rest. That dark color seems to pull out undertones in many of the flowers and foliage that I use. Some favorites are Black Knight, Merlot Red, Fire King, and Salmon Rose.

Care & Maintenance

Pincushion (scabiosa) is considered a flower that you can plant out in the fall that would overwinter well, depending on your growing zone. It is cold hardy to zone 7; so I can plant out scabiosa in the fall with frost cloth and look forward to spring blooms. I also try to plant seedlings in early and late spring in order to have multiple successions.

I start seeds indoors and plant them out into amended and broadforked soil. I plant seedlings close together to maximize bed space and minimize weeds.


Cut the flowers about an inch from the base of the plant just above a leaf. Cut successive blooms at the base of each stem.

Harvest flowers when they are about 1/3 open. Flowers will continue to open and are long-lasting.

Harvest flowers regularly so the plant continues to flower. You can cut back the plant in mid summer, and it will produce more flowers in late summer.

Place flowers into a clean bucket with water when harvested. Scabiosa can be refrigerated for up to a week, if needed. Holding solution will help extend the vase life.

Other things to consider

This last year, I did try to overwinter plants that I had planted and cut back from the following year. That experiment did not pan out as all the plants died back with a hard frost. Seedlings survived but mature plants did not.

Like bachelor buttons, I am wanting to let scabiosa self-seed to see what happens next year. I am interested to see if some varieties self-seed more successfully than others.

This post is part of a year-long series on flowers and plants that we love and grow on the farm. Check out other flowers that we love.


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