Last updated on October 21st, 2023 at 11:47 pm
Bachelor buttons, or centaurea cyanus, are hardy annuals that grow well in the garden. This year we decided to try growing bachelor buttons in containers, for a little punch of blue on the deck.
Bachelor buttons are very popular annual flowers for the garden. They are also known as cornflower plants.
There is also a perennial Bachelor button variety called Centaurea Montana, which is similar to appearance to the annual variety, however does not bloom as long in the garden.
Benefits Of Growing Bachelor Buttons In Containers
- The flowers of the annual cultivars come in multiple shades of pastels, ranging from pinks and purples, to bright blue flowers. There are even shades of rich burgundy. This wide variation allows you to bring all these colors into your containers for an extra special touch.
- These flowering plants bloom in succession all summer long, and are moderate producers.
- Bachelor button flowers are edible flowers, and growing them in containers offers easy access to the blooms for culinary purposes.
- The flowers bloom well if they are regularly pruned. Pruning helps to prevent the flowers from going to seed.
- Bachelor buttons are cold hardy annuals, and bloom well in the colder temperatures of the season. They tend lag a bit during the hot summer months, and then bloom again later in the season with another flush of flowers.
- The plants will continue to flower during the cooler season temperatures, and continue right up until frost.
- Growing the Bachelor button plants in a pot or container can bring the blooms closer to the house. This allows you to enjoy these cute flowers in other locations besides just in the garden.
- Grow them alone in the pot by themselves, or add them to other bedding plants in a large container for a colourful display.
- Bachelor buttons in containers offer a wildflower look in a contained environment.
Are Bachelor Buttons Easy To Grow?
I have grown bachelor buttons for years in the garden. They are very easy to grow.
In fact, these hardy plants often reseed themselves, and are found growing in other locations in early summer as volunteer plants, if they are happy with their environment.
Bachelor buttons are also easy to germinate in containers.
They will however, require a bit of extra care when grown in containers, as opposed to growing them in the garden.
As with many other container grown plants, these flowers grown in containers are more dependent on the gardener to provide for all their needs. This means extra mulching, watering, pruning, and even staking, which may not be required if they are grown in the garden.
Bachelor buttons in containers therefore do need a bit of extra attention during the growing season, as opposed to those in the garden. However if you are looking for the extra splash of blue, it may very well be worth the extra effort.
Do Bachelor Buttons Do Well In Containers?
Bachelor buttons can be a bit of a challenge to grow in a container. It is certainly not as easy as I expected.
This of course is a comparison to those same flowers growing in the garden, where they are mostly maintenance free.
Growing bachelor’s buttons in containers can be done however. With a bit of extra care you will be able to enjoy these sweet blooms in your pots.
There are several strategies to growing these flowers successfully in pots. If you implement some of these techniques you will have greater success with your blooms.
Growing Bachelor Buttons In Containers
First of all, let’s have a look at how to plant the seeds for growing in containers.
Make sure to choose a good growing medium, such as a soilless mix.
As well, make sure that your container has good drainage.
Planting The Seeds
Seeds for your container grown bachelor buttons can either be planted indoors in winter, or direct seeded outdoors right into the container.
Sowing The Seeds Indoors
- If starting the flower seeds indoors, sow seeds early, about six to eight weeks before the last frost. This will give the plants a head start on the growing season.
- Grow the seedlings under lights until they can be planted out in spring. When ready, the young plants can then be transplanted out into the container.
Direct Seed Outdoors
- If direct seeding into the container, sow bachelor’s button seeds on top of the soil, in late winter or early spring. Then cover the seeds with a layer of soil to provide darkness, which aides in germination.
- Bachelor buttons are hardy annuals, and can be directly seeded outside, even prior to the last frost in colder climates. A bit of cold exposure will help in stratification of the seeds, although the seeds generally are easy to germinate.
- Direct seeding is also a great advantage, as it will save on the costs of lighting and the efforts of watering inside, while you are waiting for the weather to warm up. The direct seeded seeds will germinate at just the right time for your climate, and begin to grow when the time is right.
- In early spring long before the last frost date, I planted the bachelor button seeds into a large container, in preparation for the container of blue blooms on my deck.
- I sprinkled the seeds on top of a soilless mix, then covered them with a thin layer of the same mix.
- I also covered the container with a layer of waxed paper with perforations. The paper placement was to allow moisture in from the rain. It was also an effort to help to keep the moisture in the soil during germination.
- The setup worked well, with successful germination.
- When the weather warmed up, the seeds began to germinate and fill the container with tiny seedlings.
Do Bachelor Buttons Need Light To Germinate?
- Bachelors buttons need complete darkness to germinate, so make sure that the seeds are covered after planting.
- Just a small layer of soilless mix is all you will need. Cover the seeds completely with the mix.
How Deep To Plant Bachelor Button Seeds
- Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep for best results.
Keep The Soil Moist During Germination
- As with any seeds planted, it is important the keep the soil moist during the germination process. If the soil dries out, this can damage the germinating seeds.
- When growing the seedlings indoors, water as needed. If growing the seedlings outdoors, allow the natural elements to provide the moisture, and water if needed if there is a dry period without rain or snow.
Bachelor Button Container Care
- If starting the seedlings indoors, make sure that they are hardened off prior to planting them in the container. This will allow them to become acclimatized to the outdoor environment, and help to prevent transplant shock.
- Plant the seedlings out after the last frost date in your area, and after the danger of frost has passed.
- Plant into a good soilless mix in the container, about six inches apart, allowing space for growth of each plant.
- If the seedlings were direct seeded, they are already naturally hardened off. Thin the plants to allow room for growth within the container.
Should I Pinch Bachelor Buttons?
Pinching is a process by which the central growing tip of a flower is pinched to stimulate side branching. The side branches form on the plant after pinching, providing for a bushier specimen.
Bachelor buttons will form many stems on their own, without any pinching. The plant is considered to be a medium producer, and will produce a moderate number of stems per plant.
The deadheading process to remove spent blooms, although not considered pinching, will help to enhance the blooming of the plant.
- Place the container in full sun, as a sunny location is best for bloom production.
- Although bachelor buttons can tolerate dry periods in the garden, in a container the moisture requirements are increased.
- The plants will need regular watering.
- I found the plants to be very thirsty, even in a large container.
- Water when the soil is dry to the touch.
- Make sure that there is good drainage in the bottom of the pot.
- I found that the container grown bachelor buttons dried out very quickly.
- Mulching the surface of the soil helped to keep the moisture in the soil for a longer period.
- Deadheading is an important gardening task to extend the bloom time of the plant. Removing the spent blooms and seed heads will will extend the life of this annual plant.
- Pruning the spent blooms enables the plant to conserve energy that would normally go into seed making. This energy which is no longer needed for seed production, can then be diverted back into making more blooms in the display.
- Deadheading will stop seed production, and direct the plant’s energy back to the plant for further growth.
- Just cut each spent bloom off with a pair of sharp clean scissors or clippers, after the flower has finished blooming.
- Bachelor buttons can grow quite tall, and if not placed in direct sunlight, will actually reach for the light. Since they are already somewhat unruly in appearance to begin with, this can make them even more so.
- In the case of my container grown plants, they began to flop over, and required staking to keep the plants upright.
- The best way I found to stake the plant was to insert a bamboo stake directly into the pot, and wrap the plant with some twine adhered to the stake to hold it up. Due to the carefree nature of the stems, the twine was barely noticeable.
Bachelor’s button plants look like they are straight out of the wildflower garden. Growing bachelor buttons in containers, will bring a wildflower look to your pots.
The sweet flower heads will offer uncommon bright blues and burgundy to your container gardens.
Keep in mind that the plants are not maintenance free. They will require watering and pruning to keep them blooming, tidy and healthy in appearance, throughout the summer months.
This season my container grown florist blue boy bachelor buttons seemed to have gotten away from me, as I did not keep up with the deadheading.
They required a severe pruning, and I am hoping they will bounce back in several weeks with a flush of new growth at the end of the season.
Growing Bachelor buttons in containers is a great way to bring these sweet blooms closer to your living space. Give them a try for a creative container planting.
Have you tried growing Bachelor buttons in containers? Be sure to leave a comment below to share your experience!