cornflower- annual or perennial?

woodside(6 IN)August 12, 2009

My toddler daughter came home with a seedling from daycare and it has bloomed in to a beautiful plant that I have recently identified as a cornflower.

I'd like to plant it in the garden this fall, and would like it to come back next year.

The stalk is herbaceous and soft with a blue/grey tint to it and long thin leaves. It's also getting pretty leggy right now. Brilliant blue flowers though. Is there any way I can identify the plant as an annual or a perennial?

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coolplantsguy(z6 Ontario)

There's a few plants commonly referred to as "Cornflower":

Centaurea cyanus is an annual
Centaurea montana is a perennial

From what you describe, I believe you have the annual.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 11:43AM
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woodside(6 IN)

Well that makes me sad! I love the fact that perennials come back each year. Maybe if I plant it, it will reseed :(

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 12:15PM
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botanybob(Northern Idaho)

The flower on the perennial cornflower (C. montana) is very similar to the annual. It is a little larger and very blue, and the foliage is greener. If you want a perennial, you should look for this plant at your local nursery.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 2:35PM
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I've been collecting cornflower seed pods for weeks now (along with mini, maxi and HUGE marigolds) and I will keep them in a tray until they are totally dried, then keep them, husked, either in a tupperware container or, unhusked as pods, in a bag that potatoes come in (I wash it and turn it inside out and wash again so any potato boogies don't harm the pods).

I've found cornflowers to be astoundingly lovely, long lasting (well, I dead head on a regular basis all the plants I grow, in and outside) and the more I pluck off the pods, the more they produce.

Cool. No idea if I have perennials, but I've got enough seeds from pods that I don't have to go to the store for more seed! (Ditto with marigold- easiest flower I have EVER un-seeded! Make sure it's petals are dry dry dry, pinch off the seed head, just below the bulge where the petals were, twist off the dead petals, and pull out the seeds. They will be black; if they are not, toss 'em; they're not ripe and won't germinate.) Sorry! I veered off into marigold land from Cornflower Row!!
Whichever, good luck. (And, cornflowers look terrific framing marigolds.)

This post was edited by SilkySappho on Sat, Oct 5, 13 at 23:57

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 11:54PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

use google images on your common name.. and the two latin ones provided.. and tell us which we are talking about ...

for me in z5 MI ... cornflower seed.. falls to the soil and remains viable .. if vermin dont find it ...

some even germinate.. and stay alive all winter ... always wondered about that ...

all that said.. saving a few.. will be a fail safe ...

if it went from seed to flower all in one season.. that is kinda the definition of an annual ...

a perennial.. in its first season.. would have barely bloomed very late in the season ...

its an annual i have had since i was 10 ... so call that decades... it simply makes me happy.. being the blue freak i am ...


    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 11:03AM
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They're lovely, aren't they? I didn't get any that self sowed this year. I missed having them.They're about the prettiest blue flower going. And Ken is right -- sometimes plants survive all winter and bloom in spring. I could never figure that out.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 3:43PM
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MulchMama - Do you grow Stokekesia/Stokes Aster? They're perennial, quite hardy and totally maintenance free plus easily grown from seed via winter sowing. This is the fourth season I've enjoyed my own winter sown plants in my various perennial beds--I wouldn't be without their ruffly, blue blooms in July & August. Pollinators are totally enraptured of them.

A late-season blue-bloomer is Caryopteris/blue mist shrub which is another pollinator favorite you might enjoy.

if it went from seed to flower all in one season.. that is kinda the definition of an annual ...

Ken is absolutely right. The 'rule of thumb' as regards perennials is (a) first year they sleep; (b) second year they creep; (c) third year they leap. Trust me--you won't regret the wait.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 8:21PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

thx guys...

you are bringing back memories ...

we called them bachelor buttons ... and on that theme ....

the annuals flowers are about one inch.. i used to put one in the lapel of my suit coat ... very natty ...

the perennial is 2 or more inches...

i would have looked like a very well dressed clown ... lol ... it is also called a bachelor button .. because.. but for scale ... the flowers look almost the same ... also.. it blooms much later in the season ....

seedlings of the annual are rather easy to ID in spring... with their dusty grey color ... they also look fuzzy.. or hairy ....

i am now going to have a gentle cry about lost youth ... lol.. NOT .... i dont think i would call myself natty anymore ....


    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 7:56AM
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I've never grown Stoke's aster. thanks for the rec, gardenweed, I'll give them a try. I do have Love-in-a-Mist (nigellas) and they freely reseed. Next year's crop is already up and carpeting some ornamental beds. I need to go out and thin them.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 10:23AM
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Bachelor's Button seeds are so cheap, and once you plant them, they will reseed copiously. I would be hesitant if it's the perennial cornflower...not a lot of flowering for so much foliage and very tough to get rid of once it's entrenched in your garden.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 2:06AM
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