How to Grow and Care for Mountain Cornflower (2023)

Mountain cornflower (Centaurea montana), is a popular perennial species closely related to the annual cornflower or bachelor's button Centaurea cyranus. Native to Europe, this clump-forming plant bears gray-green lance-shaped leaves and flower buds that resemble tiny pineapples. The charming solitary, fringed, blue flowers have reddish blue centers. Cultivars feature white flowers or a deep, almost black purple.

Mountain cornflower likes to be planted in the spring, though starts may take a full year or two to establish themselves. Once mature, this plant colonizes nicely and can live for 15 years or more. Do note, however, that mountain cornflower can be invasive when not cared for properly and kept in check.

Common NamesMountain cornflower, perennial cornflower, perennial bachelor's button, Mountain bluet
Botanical NameCentaurea montana
Plant TypePerennial
Mature Size1–2 ft. tall, 12–18 in. wide
Sun ExposureFull
Soil TypeWell-drained
Soil pHNeutral
Bloom TimeSpring, summer
Flower ColorBlue, white, purple
Hardiness Zones3a–8a (USDA)
Native AreaEurope

Mountain Cornflower Care

Mountain cornflower is an easy-to-care-for varietal that grows well when planted in a sunny location. This low-maintenance plant simply requires well-drained soil and the removal of volunteers every few years to prevent vigorous spread. The plant's flowers can be appreciated on their own or combined with other flowers to create a striking contrast. Deadhead the blooms after flowering to encourage a late summer rebloom. Some gardeners also like to aggressively prune the stems after a mid-summer bloom to rejuvenate the entire clump with new foliage.

Because of its drought tolerance, mountain cornflower makes a good addition to rock gardens. It's also a good choice for a butterfly or pollinator garden. If you live in a region where perennial cornflower has naturalized, combine it with various types of native plants to form a wildflower garden.

How to Grow and Care for Mountain Cornflower (1)

How to Grow and Care for Mountain Cornflower (2)

How to Grow and Care for Mountain Cornflower (3)

(Video) CornFlower / Bachelor's Button, How to Grow This Beautiful Winter Flowering Plants, centaurea flower

How to Grow and Care for Mountain Cornflower (4)


Plant your mountain cornflower in a spot that receives six to eight hours of full sun each day for optimal flowering. This plant can tolerate light shade, but locations that have too much shade can cause a reduction in blooms and make the plant grow spindly and floppy.


Mountain cornflower needs sandy, well-drained soil to thrive, and it can tolerate dry, nutritionally poor soil quite well. This plant does not thrive in especially rich soils. Mountain cornflower isn't that picky about soil pH either and can tolerate a range of levels, from 6.1 to 7.8.


Once established, mountain cornflower is drought-tolerant and requires only a weekly watering during dry spells. Take care not to overwater this plant, as its stems rely on dry, rigid ground to keep them upright. Young plants, however, will need adequate water (several times a week) until established. Increase your watering cadence slightly during especially hot temperatures. This plant is best served with drip irrigation, as sprinkling from above can damage its fragile stems.

Temperature and Humidity

Mountain cornflower, as its name suggests, is native to the high-altitude meadows and woodland areas of central and southern Europe. That said, it grows well in all climate variations within its hardiness range but is an especially vigorous grower in northern climates. This flower prefers temperatures ranging from 59 F to 78 F and can even survive a light frost. Mountain cornflower likes things dry and does not grow well in a hot and humid environment.


This easy-to-care-for plant dislikes rich soil. It needs virtually no feeding—not even an annual soil amendment with organic material. A single spring feeding is occasionally useful for plants growing in very poor soil conditions, but even then, fertilization is not necessary.

Types of Mountain Cornflower

Cultivars of mountain cornflower can be characterized by their colors, foliage, or growth pattern. Choose the type that best serves your gardening goals, keeping in mind that every variety is equally appealing.

Here are some gardeners' favorites:

  • 'Amethyst Dream' boasts lacy, deep purple petals with an even darker center. This type forms a low mound of grey-green leaves and makes a great border.
  • 'Amethyst in Snow' is a unique spreading varietal that makes a good ground cover. It features fringe-like white petals surrounding a purple center.
  • 'Alba' features snowflake-like white flower petals around a pink center. It grows up to 18 inches tall and spreads to 12 inches wide.
  • 'Black Sprite' bears star-burst-shaped flowers of dark purple and blooms early in the summer. The cut flowers and spent blooms of this type don't turn brown once dry.
  • 'Carnea' is especially popular since it is the only pink cultivar and flowers all season long. This type grows to a mature height and spread of 15 inches.


Proper pruning influences the length of mountain cornflower's bloom time, as well as its spread. To encourage a bushier spread, pinch back the ends of new growth early in the spring. Then, if desired, pinch off one-third of the plant's buds to make the blooms larger. Once the first bloom period is over, snip off spent flowers to the first set of leaves to encourage another bloom. Annually, pull up volunteers to control spreading and divide the plant in the spring every two years.

Propagating Mountain Cornflower

Dividing mountain cornflower clumps helps maintain the plant's vigor and control its spread. Divisions can be planted elsewhere in your garden, gifted to friends, or transplanted into pots.

(Video) Deadheading Perennial Cornflower / Bachelor's Button / Mountain Cornflower / Centauria Montana

Here's how to propagate mountain cornflower through division:

  1. Gather gloves, a spade shovel, a garden trowel, and garden shears.
  2. In the spring after the first growth appears, dig up your cornflower clump and place it on its side on the ground.
  3. Carefully pull apart sections that contain both growth and root using your trowel.
  4. Dig new holes for the individual plants and snip away any dead growth.
  5. Plant each new plant in a hole, backfilling to cover the roots. Relocate the mother plant to its existing hole and backfill in the same manner.
  6. Water all the plants thoroughly and keep the soil moist until the plants mature.

How to Grow Mountain Cornflower from Seed

Mountain cornflowers will readily self-seed in your garden, but you can seed a garden bed yourself. Seeds can be purchased from a garden center or collected from last year's flowers. Sow the seeds indoors eight weeks before your average last frost date by broadcasting them over a seed tray filled with seed-starting mix. Make sure to fully cover your seeds with soil, as they need complete darkness to sprout. Water the tray and keep the soil moist until seedlings appear in three to four weeks. Pull weak seedlings, allowing the others to grow, and transplant the hardy ones outside when the soil temperature reaches 60 F.

Potting and Repotting

Mountain cornflower makes a statement when grown in pots and containers. Select a clay or terracotta pot with several drain holes. Fill the pot with well-drained potting soil containing vermiculite or soilless medium. Mix in other annuals or perennials that prefer the same conditions. Once planted, water thoroughly and allow the pot to drain completely. Place your cornflower in a sunny spot to encourage blooms and make sure not to overwater it.


Mountain cornflower has adapted well to high-altitude and northern climates, eliminating the need to protect it during the winter. All that is needed to winterize this plant is a good cutback to the ground in late fall. Come spring, new growth will emerge from the cultivated mound.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

There are few serious disease issues with mountain cornflower. Non-fatal fungal rust or mildew infections sometimes occur. To avoid these issues, make sure to give your cornflower clumps enough distance between plants and prune them around the center to aid in air circulation.

Aphids can move into a patch of mountain cornflower but can be easily controlled by reducing their population with several blasts from the garden hose. You can also use a soap and water spray to eliminate any lingerers. A stalk borer infection, while rare, can cause plant fatality, and your only indication may be a wilting plant that doesn't recover. While this condition is untreatable, you can prevent it by regularly weeding your garden and pruning last year's dead growth.

How to Get Mountain Cornflower to Bloom

Cornflowers bloom best when planted in full sun and deadheaded regularly. Removing old blooms will stimulate the plant to make new ones, and pruning encourages bigger blooms. If you have a particularly finicky patch that doesn't seem to bloom, try adding an organic fertilizer high in phosphate. While cornflower usually prefers no fertilization, this little boost may help a sluggish patch bloom.

Common Problems With Mountain Cornflower

Mountain cornflower can become invasive if not kept in check. Natively, it grows rampant in nutrient-poor soil throughout corn and grain fields in Europe and is considered a weed. In naturalized areas, this plant can take over in just a few seasons, making it necessary to pluck volunteers and divide root clumps on a bi-annual basis to avoid mass proliferation.


  • Why is Centaurea Montana called "cornflower?"

    (Video) Best Tips for Growing BACHELOR BUTTONS: Growing in the Garden

    This perennial flower was once considered an invasive weed that popped up in grain and corn fields throughout Europe.

  • How can you identify mountain cornflower?

    Like others in the daisy family, the blooms of cornflower are made up of composite heads of smaller flowers. The outer florets are star-shaped, whereas the inner is filled with mini flowers.

  • Are mountain cornflowers edible?

    Mild in taste, mountain cornflowers blooms are edible. They pair nicely with both savory and sweet dishes and add a pop of color to salads and desserts.

    (Video) Centaurea gymnocarpa - grow & care

Article Sources

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Invasive Perennials. University of Vermont Extension Service

  2. Centaurea montana. Texas A&M University

(Video) Mountain Cornflower "Centaurea Montana" In bloom


How to Grow and Care for Mountain Cornflower? ›

Once established, mountain cornflower is drought-tolerant and requires only a weekly watering during dry spells. Take care not to overwater this plant, as its stems rely on dry, rigid ground to keep them upright. Young plants, however, will need adequate water (several times a week) until established.

Where is the best place to plant cornflowers? ›

Cornflowers like to grow in well drained soil in full sun.

Is mountain cornflower invasive? ›

It is self-seeding and col- onizes quickly and considered very invasive. Often purchased as an ornamental, it easily escapes flower beds and infests landscapes.

Should I cut back Centaurea Montana? ›

Centaurea blooms in late May to late June, at which point I cut it back to secondary stems for continued blooms. Once the plant starts to look ragged in mid-summer, I trim back the stalks to the basal leaves, and wait for a second flush of blooms in late summer.

How do you take care of a cornflower plant? ›

Watering: Cornflowers are generally tolerant of drought conditions, yet thrive when watered frequently. Fertilizing: In early spring, work fertilizer into the soil. Side dress in mid-summer with a well-balanced fertilizer, or one with higher phosphorous to boost flower production.

Do cornflowers spread? ›

Cornflowers spread in two ways. Both annual and perennial varieties form seeds after the flowers die, which can germinate in the garden bed. Removing the spent flowers before they go to seed prevents them from self-seeding in unwanted areas. Perennial varieties also spread through underground root stolons.

Do cornflowers do well in pots? ›

Transplant your seedlings before they reach 4” in height and do so about 12” apart. The cornflower does well in containers, too. If you have little space for a full garden, simply follow the procedure for growing indoors.

What problems do cornflower have? ›

Powdery mildew can occur in hot humid places and is best dealt with by destroying any plants that become badly infected to prevent its spreading. You want to avoid overcrowding and growing the flowers too closely together since this can result in stem rot or stem rust.

How long do cornflowers last? ›

Cornflower typically blooms for about 10 weeks (from May to mid-July), but you can increase the bloom time by deadheading spent flowers. Seeding the flower on a spaced-out schedule of every two weeks will also extend bloom time.

Are cornflowers hard to grow? ›

Cornflowers are drought-tolerant and easy to grow. It is a great flower to introduce children to gardening. Deadhead cornflowers to keep them flowering. Cornflowers are perfect for cutting and drying, and they make a great addition to any cottage garden, wildflower meadow, or border.

Should I deadhead my cornflower? ›

Do not remove the faded flowers on plants that produce seed loved by birds, including Rudbeckia, cornflower and sunflower. There is no need to deadhead rose cultivars that bear hips or other plants that bear berries in the autumn.

What do you do with cornflowers in the winter? ›

During the winter, cornflower should be watered once in every 1-2 weeks, as it is better to keep the soil slightly dry.

How do you prune mountain cornflowers? ›

Pruning. Proper pruning influences the length of mountain cornflower's bloom time, as well as its spread. To encourage a bushier spread, pinch back the ends of new growth early in the spring. Then, if desired, pinch off one-third of the plant's buds to make the blooms larger.

What fertilizer do cornflower need? ›

Start fertilizing cornflower seedlings in late winter or early spring when they are 6 inches tall. Continue with monthly fertilizer applications through the growing season. For a 10-square-foot garden bed, mix 1 tablespoon of balanced water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer with 2 1/2 gallons of water.

Why is my cornflower plant dying? ›

A small, weak or broken root system also points to a fungal problem. This disease is most likely to occur in damp conditions. If your area has received more rain than usual this year or it has been very humid, this fungal disease is most likely the problem.

Is cornflower annual or perennial? ›

Perennial cornflower is a hairy perennial plant that spreads by creeping rhizomes. Plant grow up to 2-2.5 feet tall (60-80 cm).

What months do cornflowers bloom? ›

Sowing cornflowers

Sow seeds from March to May outdoors for flowers from June to September, or sow during August and September to flower slightly earlier the following year.

What animals do cornflowers attract? ›

Also known as cornflower aster. This plant blooms a bright purple flower in mid-summer to early fall attracting butterflies, bumblebees, and hummingbirds. It grows 1-2 feet tall and 1-1/2 feet wide.

Is cornflower native or invasive? ›

Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower) is listed in the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States. According to the U.S. Forest Service, Invasive species have contributed to the decline of 42% of U.S. endangered and threatened species, and 18% of U.S. endangered or threatened species.

Will coneflowers survive winter in pots? ›

Most coneflower species are winter-hardy in pots down to USDA Zone 5. IF you have planters with coneflowers in them and live in a USDA growing zone between 9 and 5, you should be able to take great care of your potted coneflowers over the winter.

Do cornflowers grow fast? ›

Perennial cornflower spreads very quickly by means of underground stolons to cover any good, unplanted soil. To control it in a garden bed, dig up and divide the plants every two years. It prefers cool climates and does not grow well in areas with hot, humid summers.

How do you keep cornflowers from falling over? ›

For example, you can always place a tomato cage or peony support frame in the center of a clump of flowers. Keep in mind that you might need to use several cages to keep a large bed of cornflowers upright. If you decide to go this route, you can pick up a pack of five peony frames at Home Depot.

What is special about cornflowers? ›

Highly prized for their brilliant blue flowers, the soft, frilly double blossoms with fringed petals and delicate gray-green feather foliage, cornflowers are ideal in a vase along with zinnias, calendula and other brightly colored cutting garden blossoms.

What are the benefits of cornflower plant? ›

The dried flowers are used to make medicine. People take cornflower tea to treat fever, constipation, water retention, and chest congestion. They also take it as a tonic, bitter, and liver and gallbladder stimulant. Women take it for menstrual disorders and vaginal yeast infections.

How tall do cornflowers get? ›

Cornflower is also known as Bachelor's Button. Flowers come in a mix of blue, purple, pink, red and white, and plants grow to 36 inches tall. Suitable for cutting, beds and borders, flower mixtures, and pollinator gardens. Flowers attract honey bees and wild bees.

Do cornflowers grow annually? ›

While cornflowers are annuals, this flower is self-seeding. When you establish a bed or field, cornflowers will self-sow year after year. If you allow some seed heads to dry on the plants at the end of the growing season, they'll self-sow for more cornflowers next year.

Does cornflower reseed? ›

In hot summer climates like the low desert of Arizona, planting in an area with afternoon shade will prolong the blooms. Because bachelor buttons reseed easily and often “naturalize” (self-sows for another crop of flowers the following season), they are considered invasive in some areas.

Will coneflowers spread? ›

Spacing: Coneflowers are clumping plants. One plant will tend to get larger, but it will not spread and overtake the garden via roots or rhizomes. The eventual size of the plant clump depends on the cultivar, so check the mature size listed in the plant description to help you decide on spacing.

How do you keep coneflowers blooming? ›

In the beginning of the bloom season, to encourage more flowering, deadhead coneflowers regularly by cutting off the faded blooms before they produce seeds. Always cut back to a leaf or part of the stem where you can see a new bud forming.

Do you cut back coneflowers in the fall? ›

If you like to have a tidy garden through the winter, then you can cut back your coneflowers after they go dormant in the late fall or early winter. Cutting back the dormant stalks and seed heads in the fall will also decrease the chance of the plant naturalizing, or spreading.

How long do coneflowers live? ›

In the wild, a single plant can live up to 40 years. In the garden, they are best when divided every 4 years. Like all plants in the Asteraceae family, Echinacea flowers are actually inflorescences; a collection of 200-300 small fertile florets bunched together on the cone, known as disk florets.

Why don t my coneflowers come back? ›

Echinacea need a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight, ideally in the afternoon, when the sun is strongest. The other key ingredient is proper soil drainage – coneflowers will melt away in heavy, wet soil.

Can you plant cornflowers in the fall? ›

Young cornflower seedlings can tolerate freezing temperatures, so seeds can be planted in early spring, or in the fall where winters are mild.

How do you divide perennial cornflowers? ›

Place two hand forks back-to-back near the middle of the plant. Gently push the handles back and forth so that the prongs gradually tease the plant apart. Repeat the process with each portion to divide the plant into more sections, making sure each section has a healthy bud.

How do you save cornflowers? ›

Saving cornflower seeds

Wait too long to harvest them and they will have already dropped and blown away, so we like to harvest them when there are still a few blooms left on the plant but it's still most dried off. They are small, but the dry seed can be stored in a paper envelope, paper bags or seed packet.

How do you prune mountain bluets? ›

Pinch back the growing tips of your mountain bluets by 1/2 to 2 inches with your fingernails to encourage bushier growth. Pinch back early in the spring in warmer climates and to maintain their natural bloom time in any climate. Pinch back to a node -- a swelling where new growth is set to emerge -- where possible.

Is Miracle Grow good for corn? ›

If you are looking for an all-around great option for corn then I recommend the Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food. This is one of the Best Corn Fertilizers EVER! This fertilizer instantly feeds providing bigger, better corn. You can apply it every two weeks with a garden feeder.

What growing zone is cornflower? ›

This hardy, cool season annual is suited to cultivation in USDA Hardiness Zones 2 to 11.

What plants use 20 20 20 fertilizer? ›

  • For Flowers, Roses, Vegetables, Shrubs, Trees, Lawns and Houseplants. ...
  • Do not apply near water, storm drains or drainage ditches.

Why does my corn plant keep turning yellow? ›

Yellowish leaves or interveinal leaf striping early in the season is generally caused by reduced nutrient uptake due to restricted root growth. Restricted root growth can result from cool air and soil temperatures, saturated or compacted soils, and root damage.

Why are the leaves on my coneflower plant turning brown? ›

Powdery Mildew

Ah, good old powdery mildew. This disease is one of the most common garden issues you'll likely ever encounter. It's rarely a death sentence for echinacea, but it isn't very pretty. If it progresses far enough, it will cause the foliage to turn brown and die.

What is killing my coneflowers? ›

Stem rot, powdery mildew, and aster yellows are the most common coneflower diseases. Stem rot – Stem rot normally results from overwatering, as these plants are quite tolerant of drought-like conditions and require less watering than many other plants.

What does cornflower look like when growing? ›

They grow to around 60cm tall and have many well branched stems with a beautiful blue flower at the top of each. Each grey/green cotton stems looks delicate but is quite sturdy. Each flower has one ring of blue ray flowers.

How tall do coneflowers grow? ›

Echinacea purpurea, commonly called purple coneflower, is a coarse, rough-hairy, herbaceous perennial that is native to moist prairies, meadows and open woods of the central to southeastern United States (Ohio to Michigan to Iowa south to Louisiana and Georgia). It typically grows to 2-4' tall.

Can cornflower be an indoor plant? ›

Grow beautiful Cornflower in your indoor herb garden!

More or less the Lord of the Rings of the plant world, cornflower boasts a rich and interesting history.

Is cornflower a perennial or annual? ›

The cornflower is an annual flower that's ideal for a summer flower garden, growing from one to three feet tall, depending on the variety. As an annual, it is suitable for all USDA zones.

Will cornflower reseed itself? ›

If you leave some flowers on the plant to make seeds, they will readily reseed itself. Harvesting: Cornflowers make great cut flowers, and have a vase life of 4-5 days. When dried, these flowers still retain their beautiful color, and look great in dried arrangements too.

How do you take care of a perennial cornflower? ›

This low-maintenance plant simply requires well-drained soil and the removal of volunteers every few years to prevent vigorous spread. The plant's flowers can be appreciated on their own or combined with other flowers to create a striking contrast. Deadhead the blooms after flowering to encourage a late summer rebloom.

Should you cut back cornflowers in the fall? ›

If you like to have a tidy garden through the winter, then you can cut back your coneflowers after they go dormant in the late fall or early winter. Cutting back the dormant stalks and seed heads in the fall will also decrease the chance of the plant naturalizing, or spreading.


1. Cornflower Centaurea cyanus Asteraceae How To Grow & Uses
(Rooftop Botanicals)
2. Perennial Cornflower - Centauria Montana
(Wendy Westwood)
3. Cornflower timelapse: Click & Grow Indoor Garden
(Click and Grow)
4. 10 Amazing Benefits of Cornflowers You Didn't Know About
(Eccentric Nature)
5. Grow-A-long Cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus)
(Zoe Woodward Gardening )
6. How To Grow Colourful Cornflowers From Seed
(Horticulture Magazine)
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