How to Grow Pincushion Flower Seeds

Grow Guide #2382
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Binomial name: Scabiosa sp.
Life Cycle: Annual or Perennial

This 'How to Grow' guide details everything a home gardener needs to know to plant, grow and care for Pincushion flowers (Scabiosa sp.).

When to Sow Pincushion flower Seeds

Pincushion flower varieties can be warm-season annuals or perennials that grow year round in most climates. Use the table below be identify the best time of year to sow salvia seeds in your climate.

  JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Cool
Temperate
Sub-Tropical
Tropical
Arid

Preparation

Pincushion flower plants are best grown in full sun. Choose a location that will receive at least 6 hours of full sun each day.

Some pincushion flower plants are perennial, meaning they live for several years. If you are growing a perennial variety, choose a permanent position where plants can grow undisturbed by regular digging or disturbance.

Pincushion flower plants commonly self-seed in the garden. Self-seeding plants drop seeds onto the soil at the end of the season that may germinate and grow without help the following season. Choose a position where new plants will be welcome. If you do not want pincushion flowers to become established in your garden, deadhead plants before they can drop seed or grow them in containers.

Pincushion flower plants need a well drained soil enriched with plenty of organic matter. Prepare soil by weeding it thoroughly, digging it over to loosen it and adding aged animal manure or compost. Keep the area free of weeds until planting. Learn more about preparing soil for planting here.

Pincushion flower plants can be grown in containers. If possible choose a variety that’s recommended for container growing. Use a good quality potting mix and make sure your container is large enough for mature plants; a minimum of 10 litres is recommended for pincushion flowers. During the growing season, keep in mind that container grown plants may need additional fertiliser to encourage healthy growth.

How to Sow Pincushion flower Seeds

Pincushion flower seeds do not require any treatment (eg soaking, stratification) before sowing.

Pincushion flower seeds can be sown directly into the garden OR seedlings can be raised in trays or other containers and transplanted to the garden once established.

Sow Direct

  1. Sow seeds directly in the garden 5mm deep and 25cm apart.
  2. Keep soil moist but never wet or dry.
  3. Seeds should germinate in around 10-12 days at a soil temperature of 18-21°C.
  4. Young seedlings will need protection from pests, pets and weather until they are established.

Raise Seedlings

  1. Fill trays, punnets or jiffy pots with a good quality seed-raising mix, or use soil starter pellets.
  2. Sow seeds 5mm deep.
  3. Keep soil moist but never wet or dry.
  4. Seeds should germinate in around 10-12 days at a soil temperature of 18-21°C.
  5. Transplant seedlings to the garden once they have their first true leaves and are large enough to handle (usually 5-10cm tall).
  6. Plant out, spacing plants 25cm apart.

How to Grow Pincushion flower

Pincushion flower plants may need watering during the growing season. Water when the soil is dry about 5cm below the surface (test this by scratching away a little soil with your finger). Water deeply in the early morning or late afternoon. Avoid watering the leaves of plants to avoid fungal diseases. Learn more about watering here.

If soil was well prepared no extra fertiliser should be necessary. In poor soil or to give your plants an extra boost, application of a high-potassium fertiliser or one formulated for flowering plants can be beneficial:

  • Apply slow release fertiliser at the recommended rate when transplanting or when seedlings are 5-10cm tall.
  • Apply liquid fertiliser at the recommended rate and frequency while plants are fruiting or flowering.

Pincushion flower plants should flower in approximately 190 days.

Deadhead pincushion flower flowers regularly during the growing season. Using sharp secateurs or snips cut fading or dead flowers off just above a set of leaves. Removing old flowers regularly will encourage plants to produce more flowers. Learn more about deadheading flowering plants here.

If growing pincushion flowers for cut flowers, use sharp snips or secateurs to cut the longest stems possible, removing the lower leaves and placing the stems immediately in a clean bucket of water. Learn more about cutting and conditioning homegrown flowers here.

Perennial varieties only - When plants have finished flowering prune them back to neaten them and encourage strong new growth. Using sharp secateurs or snips, cut individual stems just above a set of lower leaves.

Common Problems when Growing Pincushion flowers

Like all plants, pincushion flower is susceptible to some pests, diseases and other problems. Below is a list of the most common problems gardeners encounter when growing pincushion flower plants:

  • Aphids
    Aphids are small (2-4mm long) sap-sucking insects that congregate on the new shoots or the undersides of leaves. They can cause leaves to wilt or become discoloured, and also excrete honeydew which can attract ants and other insect pests. To manage aphids, remove them by spraying with a garden hose, apply a soap or alcohol spray, or encourage predatory insects to your garden. Read more about aphids here.
  • Slugs and Snails
    Slugs and snails are molluscs that feed on tender leaves and shoots, mostly at night, leaving slimy trails behind them. Control them by removing their hiding places, keeping free range poultry, collecting them by torchlight or by placing traps. Read more about slugs and snails here.
  • Spider mites
    Spider mites (Tetranychus urticae), also known as two spotted mites, are sap-sucking arachnids that cause dry, wilted or discoloured leaves. The undersides of leaves may feel dry and a little like fine sandpaper. Prune plants to allow good air flow or spray with eco-oil or wettable sulphur. Learn more about managing spider mites here.
  • thrip on a flower
    Thrips are black, beige or white flying insects (<1.5mm) with larvae that suck tissue from leaves and petals, leaving behind very small white or transparent markings. While not usually causing serious damage, the marks affect the look of flowers and foliage and thrips can also transfer pathogens from one plant to another. Wash thrips from affected plants using a garden hose, encourage predatory mites and lacewings with companion planting, or spray with soap, eco-oil or neem oil.

Browse Pincushion Flower Seeds

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