Over the last few years, much of the focus in my garden has shifted towards growing flowers from seed. While the main reason for this was initially cost, I was so excited to find that there were other rewards, as well. Each year, the profusion of blooms (started from seed) turns my garden into an urban escape - both for me, and for the pollinators!
One of my absolute favorite flowers to grow are bachelor's buttons, also known as cornflower. Compared to other flowers, these beauties come in a somewhat limited range of colors (blue is most common). However, it's likely there's enough choice in variety to suit most landscapes and grower tastes.
The process of growing these plants couldn't be more simple. First, as always, I prepare the planting bed with a high quality compost. Bachelor's button plants don't seem especially particular about their growing conditions in my yard. This also makes them an excellent choice for containers and raised beds. Make sure that the planting location receives ample sunlight, at least six hours, each day.
After determining the location in which you'd like to plant, now is the time to determine when to plant. Bachelor's buttons are cool season annuals. Cool season annuals are a group of plants that thrive in cooler temperatures.
This concept can become somewhat tricky for those of us who experience cold winter weather. Here in my Kentucky garden (zone 6b/7), I am able to easily plant bachelor's buttons in the fall and overwinter them in my garden without protection of any kind. These plants are surprisingly cold tolerant and robust. The seedlings in my garden have survived both snowfall and freezing temperatures without much loss. Fall-planted flowers will bloom early the following spring on plants reaching 3-4 feet tall.
For gardeners who live in colder climates in which bachelor's buttons may not be planted in the fall, the flowers may also be direct sowed in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Depending upon the climate, spring-sown plants may be somewhat smaller. However, they'll still provide the garden with loads of beautiful blooms.
Beyond planting, these flowers require very little attention or care, aside from occasional watering and weeding. I believe that their carefree growing habit make bachelor's buttons a perfect addition to both beginner and expert flower gardens alike!