Bachelor’s button is a cool weather annual native to Europe where it was a common weed in corn fields and hence acquired the common name cornflower. The species is has gray-green stems and leaves, and intense bright blue flowers. Numerous cultivars are available with pink, white, red, burgundy, lavender or purple flowers and varying in height from 1 to 2.5 feet. Bachelor’s buttons like full sun, and fertile, moist but well-drained soil. They are cross-pollinated by insects and different varieties should be kept separate to protect pure strains if seed collection is a goal. If crosses occur blue is dominant, followed by pink, and then white. Hybrids and other cultivars do not breed true.
Bachelor’s buttons resent transplanting, are easy to start outdoors, but can be started indoors. Outdoor sowing can be done several weeks before the last frost in spring but in warm climates may be done in late summer or fall for winter or early-spring bloom. Indoor sowing can be done eight to ten weeks before transplanting in late spring. Successive sowings will ensure a continuous supply of flowers (that are good in the vase and are edible.)
Directions for Outdoor Sowing:
1. Cover seeds ¼” deep with fine soil and firm well. Seeds germinate in seven to ten days at temperatures of 60-70 F.
2. Thin seedlings of dwarf varieties to 6 inches apart and tall varieties to twelve inches apart. Although the plants will tolerate crowding they will produce bigger flowers when give plenty of room.
Directions for Indoor Sowing:
1. Sow seeds in flats covering ¼” with soil. Water well.
2. To speed germination, place flat in the refrigerator for about five days. (Optional)
3. When seedlings have two sets of true leaves, transplant to individual peat pots.
4. After the last frost place pots with seedlings into the garden spacing dwarf varieties six inches apart and tall varieties twelve inches apart. For the largest flowers do not crowd.