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These long-blooming perennials—and in some cases, annuals—have long been prized for their old-fashioned charm and versatility. They get their name from their interesting flowers that resemble little pincushions. Their ability to bloom from spring until frost makes them a must in any garden, especially for their use as a cut flower. Because their overall habit is fairly short, pincushion flowers can work well in the front of the border or mixed in with other plants. For the most dramatic effect, plant them en masse to see the blooms dancing in the garden.
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From 6 inches to 3 feet
9 to 24 inches
This lovely perennial makes a great companion to many garden plants. Most commonly, the beautiful pincushion flower is found in lovely shades of sky blue, but keep an eye out for black-purple, shades of lilac, and pinks and white. Since these soft tones work well with so many different plants, it's easy to find a spot in any garden for pincushion flower. The foliage of pincushion flower is also fairly unobtrusive, forming a nice mat of growth with lightly dissected foliage that works well as a backdrop for this beautiful flower.
Pincushion Flower Care Must-Knows
The easy elegance of the pincushion flower is matched in its equally easy growth requirements. Pincushion flowers grow best in well-drained soils and are fairly tolerant of drought. Heavy, wet soils can be the death of pincushion flowers, even if they seem fine during the growing season. If your area has issues with wet soils during the winter, you may want to treat pincushion as an annual.
For the best blooms, give pincushion flowers full sun. They can tolerate part sun, especially in the heat of the south, but will definitely perform best in full sun. In anything less, there is a possibility of powdery mildew, which isn't fatal, but is something to keep an eye out for. In part sun, the flower stalks can also become more stretched and may flop, so plant them around taller plants that they can lean on, if needed.
Because these plants are such prolific bloomers, cutting back old blooms can encourage continued blooms. Some pincushion flowers can seed about politely in the garden, nothing invasive, so you may find an errant seedling or two appear in your garden beds. Keep in mind that if you planted a named variety, these seedlings will not be quite the same as their parents.
Despite all of the wonderful attributes of these plants, they have had little work done with them. Part of this may be because of the already exceptional nature of the plants. Most of the work has been on making more dwarf plants and increasing the color variability. Some varieties have come out with beautiful reds, pinks, and even soft apricots. Some have been bred especially for the cut flower industry, looking for larger blooms on long stalks.