Scabiosa (Scabious) – Scabiosa is one of the best, easy-to-grow garden flowers that you can add to your garden. It does not produce an abundance of blooms at any one time, and yet it remains a favorite herbaceous border perennial. There are two basic reasons for its popularity – flowering begins in late June and continues until the first frosts arrive, and the large flowers are excellent for arranging indoors. The frilly-edged ‘pincushions’, blue or white and up to 4 in. across, last a longtime in water and can also be dried for winter decoration.

Plant in the spring and add compost, peat or leaf mould to the planting mixture. Dead-head faded blooms and cut down the stems once the floral display is over. Keep watch for slugs in the spring. It is a favorite nectar plant of key pollinators such as bees, and interestingly it is also deer-resistant. Scabiosa plants also make good companion plants for pinks, bellflower, dianthus,  geranium, black-eyed susans and petunias.

Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Tall Double Mix’

Varieties of Scabiosa

The basic species is Scabiosa caucasica – height 2-8 ft, spacing 1½  ft, flowering period June – October. Scabiosa bears large lavender-colored flowers but it has now largely been replaced by its named varieties.

The one you are most likely to be offered is ‘Clive Greaves’ – mid-blue, large-flowered and long-stemmed. There are a few white varieties, such as ‘Miss Willmott’ and ‘Bressingham White’ and there are several deep violet types to choose from – pick ‘Moerheim Blue’ or ‘Imperial Purple‘.

Site and soil

Any well-drained, non-acid soil will do – thrives best in full sun. Mix a standard application of a balanced organic fertilizer into the soil prior to planting.

Time to sow

Sow scabiosa seeds indoors in early spring and set seedlings out two weeks before your last spring frost is expected. Transplant carefully, without disturbing the roots.


Divide clumps in spring.

Scabiosa ‘Royal Ruby’

Scabiosa ‘Blue Diamonds’