The Q&A Archives: Scabiosa Did Not Bloom

Question: I planted some scabiosa seeds last spring in about May. The seeds germinated well and I had five plants, three in flower beds and two in pots. They got water and fertilizer, but didn't bloom. The ones in the flower bed don't seem to be coming back from roots, either. What did I do wrong? The seeds were relatively fresh, and have been stored in original packages in fridge inside ziploc bags. Can I try them again this year?

Answer: Are you referring to Scabiosa caucasia (Pincushion Flower)? These plants prefer full sun except in very hot climates. They need moist, light, slightly alkaline soil with very good drainage. Do you have those conditions? If the seed germinated there probably isn't a problem with the seed. With what were you fertilizing and how much? Sometimes if a fertilizer is too high in nitrogen or is applied too often you get foliage and no/reduced flowering. Work on strengthening your root systems by applying lots of organic material such as compost or well rotted manure and when fertilizing focus on the second 2 numbers of the analysis (such as the two 10s in a 5-10-10 mix). These numbers represent phosphorous and potassium which are essential for good root development and flowering. When applying a commercial fertilizer be careful to follow application rates, I also tend to lean toward slow release fertilizers such as the brand "Once". You could work in a bit of bone meal (phosphorous) and woodash (potassium) to the soil. Also, keep in mind that many perennials need a season or two to establish good roots before they will have flowers.

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