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Centaurea cyanus (sen-tah-REE-a or sen-TAR-ee-a cy-AN-us)
Cornflower, Bachelors-button, Blue-bottle
Centaureas have flat-topped blossoms that resemble thistles. They have slender stems covered with gray-green, spiny-toothed foliage.
Centaurea colors include blue, mauve, crimson, rose-pink, purple, white and yellow. Blue is the most common color.
The flowers will last from seven to 10 days, with proper care.
These flowers are available year-round, with peak availability from March through August.
Centaureas can be stored in floral coolers at 32 F to 36 F.
Centaureas’ sensitivity to ethylene gas is low.
PETAL DROP Spray the blossoms with an antitranspirant to help prevent shattering.
BLOOMS Purchase Centaureas when the buds are showing one-fourth inch of color. Open blossoms won’t last as long, and they may suffer damage during transportation.
STEMS AND FOLIAGE Watch for bruised or yellowing foliage or any evidence of rotted stems.
DESIGN TIPS Centaureas are versatile flowers that are excellent choices for vase arrangements, hand-tied bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages and hair flowers. Centaureas’ hollow stems sometimes need a little extra support, or they may collapse. To strengthen them, insert a fine wire up the hollow stems and into the flower base.
DRYING Some Centaurea blooms will dry nicely. To dry, select several stems, and band them together in small bunches. Hang them upside down in a well-ventilated, warm, dry space for about a week.
WHAT'S IN A NAME The genus name, “Centaurea,” is from the Greek word “kentaur,” for “centaur.” In Greek mythology, centaurs were a race of creatures that were half man and half horse. The epithet name “cyanus” means “blue.” The common name cornflower comes from the plants’ tendency to invade cornfields.
FAMILY Centaureas are members of the extensive Asteraceae, or Compositae, family. The family includes marigold (Tagetes), Gerbera (Transvaal daisy), sunflower (Helianthus) and chrysanthemum (Dendranthema) as well as many common weeds and wildflowers.
HOME SWEET HOME Centaureas are native to the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and the United Kingdom, where they once were considered a troublesome weed. Efforts to eradicate them from cultivated crop fields nearly led to their extinction in England. Efforts to restore them to their natural habitat have been successful.
HISTORY Centaureas are prominent in the Victorian “Language of Flowers,” symbolizing hope, love, blessedness and celibacy. Young single girls wore the blooms as a sign of availability. Centaureas originally were brought to America from France, where they were important in folk medicine as a treatment for eye problems. In addition, the flowers once were pulverized to make blue food coloring for use in pastry making and watercolor paints.
Some information provided by:
A. Repetto Nursery, Inc.; Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Chain of Life Network®, www.chainoflifenetwork.org
You may reach “Cut Flower of the Month” writer Steven W.
Brown, AIFD, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (415) 239-3140.
Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2008
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.