In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
July, 2004
Regional Report

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Be careful you don't cut off the wrong flower when deadheading scabiosa. The young flower bud is the one in the middle. The ones at the bottom have gone by.

Pincushion Flowers

My grandma called them pincushion flowers, and they've been all the rage the last couple of years in our area. Scabiosa is one of our most dependable bloomers. When you walk into a garden center and ask for something carefree that will bloom all summer, chances are they'll hand you a pot of these pretty blue perennials.

Scabiosa Care
Scabiosa deserves a place in any perennial garden. It softens any color combination, looks terrific planted in mass, and will bloom from late spring until fall. It's also easy to grow. Scabiosa doesn't mind our highly alkaline, sandy soils, and takes all the sun our high desert can offer. The soft blue flowers wave merrily in the breeze, yielding to pincushion-like seed heads. If you deadhead the cushions, you'll get plenty more flowers.

The only trick is the flower buds can look like the pincushion seed heads. I've cut off many an innocent bud from my pincushion flowers and wondered why they stopped blooming.

Buds Versus Pincushions
To tell the difference, look on the flower for two small, pointy outgrowths at the bottom. Those are the spent flowers. They really do look like pincushions, with a lot of tiny pins sticking out. That's what you cut back when you deadhead. The flower buds are different in that they have no pins.

Other than pinching, this perennial is a carefree addition to any garden.


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