Plant FinderPlant Finder Graphic
Zones vary by species.
Full Sun
Regular Water


Asteraceae (Compositae)
Annuals, Perennials

Out of some 500 species, only a dozen or so are widely cultivated. Of these, annuals are grown mainly for cut flowers; perennial kinds are valued for soft, silvery foliage. All are relatively easy to grow. For best performance, add lime to acid soils. Sow seeds of annuals or set out plants of perennial kinds in spring or fall. (In desert regions, plant all in autumn for winter and spring bloom.)

Centaurea cineraria
Centaurea cineraria

Click to Enlarge

Centaurea cineraria

(This common name is used for many plants with whitish foliage; see Dusty Miller.) Native to Italy. Compact growth to 1 ft.wide, 1 ft. or taller. Velvety white, strapshaped leaves with broad, roundish lobes, mostly in basal clump. Solitary 1-in. flower heads (purple, occasionally yellow) in summer. Trim back after bloom. Blossoms attract bees.

Cornflower or bachelor's button (Centaurea cyanus)
Cornflower or bachelor's button (Centaurea cyanus)

Click to Enlarge

Centaurea cyanus

Bachelor's Button, or cornflower, is a pretty blue flower from northern temperate regions. A common but often welcome weed in some areas, such as the Pacific Northwest. Grows 1 to 1 1/2 ft. tall, less than a foot wide, branching if given enough space. Narrow gray-green leaves, 2–3 in. long. Spring to midsummer flowers are 1 1/2 in. across, in blue, pink, rose, wine red, or white; blue varieties are traditional favorites for boutonnieres.

Centaurea macrocephala

From the Caucasus. Attractive, coarse-foliaged, leafy plant 3–4 ft. tall, 2 ft.wide. Blooms in summer, bearing 2-in. clusters of yellow flowers tightly wrapped at the base with overlapping, shiny, papery brown bracts. Flower heads resemble thistles. Use in fresh or dried arrangements.

Centaurea montana

Native to mountains of central Europe. It forms a clump 1 1/2–2 ft. tall and wide; grayish green leaves reach 7 in. long. Flowers resembling ragged blue 3-in. cornflowers top the stems in late spring to midsummer. Protect from snails. Divide every other year.

You Might Also Like...

Metrosideros polymorphus

Native to Hawaii. Slow-growing, highly variable plant; may form a small, erect to prostrate shrub or g...

Festuca rubra commutata

Used in lawns, Chewings fescue forms denser turf than creeping red fescue, so takes lower mowing (1 in...

Pyrus calleryana 'Jack'

Oval shape to 15 ft.tall, 10 ft. wide, with white flowers and dark green leaves that turn yellow in fa...

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

View Maps Learn More