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When it comes to long-blooming perennials, knautia, also called crimson scabiosa, is one of the most whimsical. Its wiry stems dance in the wind and are topped with pincushionlike crimson flowers. This short-lived perennial will self-seed, making it a great candidate for a cottage garden where informality is celebrated, but it can become a nuisance in structured planting settings. However, the seedlings are a cinch to remove when they are young. This plant blooms from early summer through early fall, producing many blossoms for both bouquets and decorating the garden.
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garden plans for Knautia
Planting Partners for Knautia
Pair knautia with other long-blooming perennials for a garden that sparkles with color through the growing season. Great perennial planting partners include yarrow, bellflower, shasta daisy, 'Moonbeam' coreopsis, purple coneflower, cranesbill, false sunflower, daylilies, bee balm, garden phlox, and black-eyed Susan. Combine these easy-to-grow perennials with ornamental grasses for a garden that is overflowing with both color and texture. In addition to landscape beauty, the long-blooming perennials and grasses provide both food and habitat for wildlife, including many pollinators. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the planting bed to minimize maintenance.
Knautia grows best in full sun and average, well-drained soil. A loose, clump-forming plant, it tends to flop and sprawl in windy growing areas. Plant it in a protected spot, such as near an evergreen shrub or a building that will protect it from prevailing winds.
Plant knautia from seed or transplants purchased at a garden center. Plant seeds in spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Like most perennials, knautia is easiest to start from transplants. After planting transplants, water them well and cover the soil around plants with a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch. Water plants regularly during the first growing season.
Knautia will self-seed in optimum growing conditions. Cut back spent flowers as soon as they are noticed to prevent self-seeding if desired. Or leave spent seeds and enjoy songbird antics as birds love knautia seeds. Knautia can be divided every three or four years in early spring. As soon as the foliage emerges, sink a spade into the ground and lift the entire clump. Cut the clump into several sections and replant divisions immediately. Water divisions well.
New Types of Knautia
Plant breeders are developing new knautia plants that have stronger stems and a more upright habit. Often more compact, these small plants are well-suited for a variety of planting sites. A variety with variegated foliage has also hit the market. Check out 'Thunder and Lightning'.