Bachelor buttons were found King Tut's tomb intertwined in a wreath to be taken to the afterlife. The flower is also known as cornflower, blue bottle, bluebonnet or bluebow, with the scientific name of Centaurea cyanus. The name gives away that the most popular color of the flower is blue, but it also comes in pink, white, red and deep purple.
History and Description
Bachelor buttons are native to Asia and Europe, where they grow freely as wildflowers. They are a member of the aster family. They grow anywhere from 2 to 4 feet high on long slender stems that look silver and have green leaves. The flowers have a central disk with thin petals that have little cups at the ends. Because they can go without water for a long time, they were often used as lapel flowers for weddings. They attract butterflies and come in both annual and perennial varieties. Both types reseed easily.
Soil and Sun Requirements
Bachelor buttons will grow in any kind of soil, from rich dark soil to sand and rocks. They do not need soil that is rich in compost but they do not like to be in wet conditions. They prefer well-drained soil. One thing this flower does need to grow well is full sun. They will not thrive in anything else.
Bachelor buttons grow readily from seed. After the last frost of the year, scatter seeds in the garden and just cover with a light covering of soil and tamp down. The seeds will tolerate the cold if another frost comes around before they germinate. Water lightly and germination will take place in about seven to 14 days. It is possible to sow the seeds in late October or early November before the first snow. hey will come up in the spring. Bachelor buttons do well in containers and can be planted with just about any other kind of flowers. They look good with Oriental poppies, zinnias, daisies, black-eyed Susans and lavender.
Bachelor buttons do not need to be watered frequently. When the soil is very dry or if the plants start to wilt, water them. They usually get enough water from natural rain, even in dry areas. The annual type will have to be pinched back in order to make more stems and flowers grow and make the plant a bit more bushy. Some varieties grow as tall as 4 feet and need to be staked, especially in windy areas. Use twigs or dowel sticks to prop them up--you can tie loosely with strips of nylon stockings if necessary. Make sure to remove the spent blossoms so the plant will produce more. The plants will benefit from a liquid fertilizer applied only once or twice during the growing season.
You can grow bachelor buttons from saved seeds the next year. Let some of the flowers stay on the plant after they die back. A pod will develop at the base of the flower that will contain seeds. Once it turns light brown it is mature and can be cut from the plant and placed in a brown paper lunch bag. Tie the bag closed with string and hang it so air circulates all around. In a few days, remove the pod, and if it has not already opened leaving the seeds in the bag, split it with your fingers and remove the seeds.
Insects and Diseases
Bachelor buttons are not troubled by many insects. They generally leave them alone. They can get powdery mildew if the weather is particularly wet. Treat them with an organic control for the disease, found at most garden centers, and they will bounce back.