A little known, but garden-worthy cornflower is in full bloom. Persian cornflower (Centaurea dealbata), with its wispy pinkish-blue petals, looks like other plants in the family.
Persian cornflower grows in a mound that gets about 24 inches tall and wide. It prefers full sun and average soil and is quite drought tolerant. Soil is that too rich may cause the plant to flop. It blooms from late spring into early summer. Deadheading, or removing spent flowers, will encourage a longer bloom time. It is a lovely cut flower, too. When it has stopped blooming, cut back close to the ground and the plant will grow a second, tidy flush of gray-green foliage.
There are a few reports that this plant self-sows, but that has not happened in my garden. Easy to grow from seed, it blooms the first year. Thompson & Morgan carries the seed. Sometimes you can find the plant in garden centers or through mail-order retailers. Although quite attractive, Persian cornflower can be difficult to find.
Like a lot of plants, this perennial has many names, including hardy bachelor button, knapweed, star thistle and whitewash cornflower. It originates in the Caucasus Mountains in Eurasia. Persian cornflower is quite hardy and does not seem to be bothered by diseases or insects.
Gardeners aren’t the only ones who find this perennial attractive. Bees and butterflies also visit the plant, but it is resistant to deer and rabbits.