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Another great source of blue flowers, mountain bluet and perennial bachelor's button have the easy, casual growth habit of the wildflowers they are. This plant group also includes ornamental knapweeds, which have beautiful yellow blooms.
All three types are prolific nectar producers that attract butterflies. They self-seed readily, giving you lots more plants through the years. After blooming, like a lot of wildflowers, the plants get somewhat weedy looking and benefit from a cutting back by a third to a half to keep them tidy. If they like their growing conditions, they will spread into larger clumps that need dividing every couple of years.
Part Sun, Sun
Under 6 inches to 8 feet
1-3 feet wide
garden plans for Centaurea
more varieties for Centaurea
'Amethyst in Snow' mountain bluet
Centaurea montana 'Amethyst in Snow' combines the best of the white and blue forms of the species. A central purple head is set off by pure-white ray flowers.
Centaurea macrocephala, also known as Armenian basket flower, is indeed a large plant, growing 4-5 feet tall with bright yellow, thistlelike flowers in midsummer. It is hardy in Zones 3-8.
Centaurea montana is a North American native flower with gray-green foliage and cornflower blue blooms in spring to early summer. It reblooms in midsummer if cut back after bloom.
Perennial bachelor's button
Centaurea pulcherrima forms a low mound of deeply toothed gray-green leaves, which in early summer send up shaggy pink cornflower blooms. It tolerates hot, dry conditions and is hardy in Zones 4-9.
Centaurea uniflora, as its common name suggests, bears solitary purplish-pink flowers on a mound of prickly green leaves 15-20 inches tall. It is hardy in Zones 4-8.
White mountain bluet
Centaurea montana 'Alba' is similar to the species, but with white flowers instead of blue ones.
plant Centaurea with
Poppies' papery, almost artificial-looking flowers are well-loved, and there are a surprising number of different kinds. The finer species including Iceland, Alpine, and Atlantic poppies have a special charm with flowers in myriad colors in spring. Oriental poppies are bristly and less refined, but they have huge, exploding flowers of brilliant reds, pinks, white, oranges, and plum, some with double flowers in summer. Most are blotched with black at the base and centered with a boss of black stamens. After these plants give their all at bloom time, the foliage dies back and looks ragged, so plan to fill the newly available space with annuals, dahlias, baby's breath, or other later-blooming plants.
With its tall wispy wands of lavender or blue flowers and silvery foliage, Russian sage is an important player in summer and fall gardens. It shows off well against most flowers and provides an elegant look to flower borders. The aromatic leaves are oblong, deeply cut along the edges. Foot-long panicles of flowers bloom for many weeks. Excellent drainage and full sun are ideal, although very light shade is tolerated. Plant close to avoid staking since the tall plants tend to flop.
Brightly colored butterfly weed is a butterfly magnet, attracting many kinds of butterflies to its colorful blooms. Monarch butterfly larvae feed on its leaves but seldom harm this native plant. It is slow to emerge in the spring, so mark its location to avoid accidental digging before new growth starts. If you don't want it to spread, deadhead faded blooms before seedpods mature. It is sometimes called milkweed because it produces a milky sap when cut.