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Connecticut Garden Journal
Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more.

Connecticut Garden Journal: Perennial Centaurea

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Dwight Sipler
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Creative Commons
Centaurea montana.
While the blue flowers are traditional, there are a number of newer varieties with interesting color variations.

There's a late spring blooming perennial flower that's been looking beautiful this year. It goes by a number of common names, such as mountain bluet, perennial bachelor's buttons, and corn flower. I know it mostly by its botanical name, Centaureamontana.

This European native is popular in English cottage gardens and across our region.

It produces blue-, white-, or burgundy-colored spider-like blooms. It grows two to three feet tall and can flop over, so is best grown in groups and caged to stay vertical.

Centurea does spread by underground rhizomes, and self-sows readily.

In late summer, we do a bit of digging and dividing to keep it in bounds, and thin out seedlings in spring.

While the blue flowers are traditional, there are a number of newer varieties with interesting color variations. Black Sprite has purple-black flowers on dwarf 14-inch tall plants.

Amethyst in Snow is also short, and has white petals surrounding a deep purple center. Gold Bullion has blue flowers with golden-colored foliage, providing interest even when the plant isn't in bloom.

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Credit Sarah's Yard / Creative Commons
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Creative Commons
Centaurea montana known as Amethyst in Snow.

Centurea grows best in full to part sun on well-drained soil. It tolerates a hot, dry location, but flowers best with plenty of moisture in the soil.

It's one of the easiest perennials to grow and is great for novices.

Plant centurea with other late spring flowering perennials such as iris, geranium and peony. The flowers are bee and butterfly magnets and are great for use as a cut or dried flowers in arrangements.

Centaurea_montana_3.jpg
Credit Roger Culos / Creative Commons
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Creative Commons

After flowering in spring, cut back the plant by two-thirds to let it regrow and flower again in summer.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about rambling roses. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.

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