Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Pincushion Flower
Scabiosa columbaria

Family: Caprifoliaceae (cap-ree-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info) (cap-ree-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Scabiosa (skab-ee-OH-suh) (Info)
Species: columbaria (kol-um-BAR-ee-uh) (Info)

14 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 18 photos.
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11 positives
6 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral Wildernessgirl On Jun 13, 2012, Wildernessgirl from Mountain Village, CO wrote:

The ones I planted two year ago grow a few leaves every summer but never grow much or bloom despite compost, fertilizer, etc. The new ones I put in this year one week seem to do very well and next seem to be dying and then seem well the following week. Not sure what is going on. The seem difficult compared to the harebells, lupine, columbine, sweet woodruff I grow. Those all do very well on own and are more beautiful in my opinion. Not sure these are worth the effort involved.

Positive shuttermommy On May 16, 2012, shuttermommy from Waterford, CA wrote:

I love this plant and the butterflies do too! The flowers are beautiful and It returns each spring. Zone 9 Cali

Positive wendymadre On May 17, 2011, wendymadre from Petersburg, VA wrote:

In my Zone 7A, Petersburg, Virginia garden, the Scabiosa columbaria have thrived in a sunny location. When I read the accounts by other gardeners here, I think that some of them are dealing with other varieties of Scabiosa, for instance, caucasica rather than columbaria. That could account for the difference in length of stem, and the failure to thrive. I have not succeeded with caucasica, which I consider to be even prettier than columbaria. I don't know if it's me or whether it requires cooler summer nights, or what.

Positive Rupeee On Jan 4, 2010, Rupeee from Riverside, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Have planted 3. 2 in full sun & 1 in part shade. The 2 in full sun bloom on and on and are beautiful year around. The 1 in part shade just wont catch on. We have hot-hot summers and mild winters. Plants seem to love the heat although they do well in our mild winters. Zone 9b

Positive canadaroots On Jun 27, 2009, canadaroots from Waxhaw, NC wrote:

I planted the in a bed under an oak tree, poor soil,though I did ammend it with compost. It has been blooming wonderfully, a little work horse. so today I planted 2 more!

Positive jenewton On Feb 24, 2008, jenewton from Peru, IN wrote:

I planted this on the north side of my home in a partly shady area this past summer. It did absolutely fantastic. I really enjoyed watching the butterflies which were attracted to the flower. The blooms were the last to stop this fall.

Negative knottthemama On Jan 28, 2008, knottthemama from Duncan, OK wrote:

I have planted them several times, pink, blue and white. I got leggy plants with very few blooms in spite of the fact that I followed the directions. Pink and blue were indistinguishable. The white came back as a weed, again with no blooms to speak of, on 3' stalks. The pictures are beautiful, but I don't know how they got that way.

Positive PhilsFlowers On May 14, 2007, PhilsFlowers from Ocean Park, Surrey, BC (Zone 6b) wrote:

I live in Surrey, B.C. Canada (Zone 4a) and also love this plant for its unusual flower and ease of growing. It is in a raised bed facing west so does not get anything but evening sun and yet it blooms its little heart out for me. There have been no problems with disease nor any sign that it has been bothered by insect pests. I noticed this afternoon that it will soon be blooming. As these plants will continue in bloom, providing I remember to fertilize them occasionally and deadhead them regularly, until late September or early October I think that few plants can beat this one.

Negative ninasteffens On May 3, 2007, ninasteffens from Hailey, ID wrote:

Although pretty early in the season, this plant has proven over the years to reseed freely and become invasive. It also develops powdery mildew in August in south central Idaho. Not recommended.

Neutral auntcon On Jun 19, 2005, auntcon from Warsaw, MO wrote:

I have the yellow/off white that is reseeded after 1 year (planted June 18, 2004) but very slow growing. It is just now starting to bloom. I got 2 lavender & 1 lt blue this spring & they look really bad. One died, the other two are short & slowly coming back after a good shearing. MO zone 5 1/2

Positive abbotto On Jan 21, 2005, abbotto from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

the plants in my garden have been there three years and they never seem to stop blooming! I'm a beginner gardener-my mother planted them for me when I moved into the house- so, i don't know all the terminology, but we've already had a couple of "freezes" (zone 8) and they're still flowering. I deadhead them and they give me more flowers.

Positive luperry On Jan 19, 2005, luperry from Meriden, CT wrote:

I also love the black color and was crushed when I found the plant at a nursery last year, only to be told it was not for sale ,just for display! I was very happy to find the seeds available in the 2005 Burpee's catalog this month.

Positive alaskagardengir On Aug 9, 2004, alaskagardengir from Anchorage, AK (Zone 4a) wrote:

i live in anchorage ak and have 3 plants they have all done well here they like sun and compost. i am very happy to have them it got down below 0 farenhiet and we had a long winter this past one but very warm this summer

Positive luv2garden211 On Apr 30, 2004, luv2garden211 from Glenolden, PA wrote:

I first planted pincushion flowers 3 years ago - blue, pink yellow and white. Only the white survived, but it grows like a weed in my zone 6 garden. I have it planted everywhere in my garden now, including containers, and have given it away to several people. I have clay soil that is slightly acidic and amended with home grown compost to lighten its structure.

Neutral soilsandup On Apr 29, 2004, soilsandup from Sacramento, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I planted this plant with the hopes of using it as a cut flower. Unfortunately, the stems are quite short so it was not very useful for that purpose. I guess I don't have the same growing conditions as Debsey who reported that this is an excellent plant for floral arrangements. The plant does tend to spread, but can be controlled easily.

Neutral htop On Apr 22, 2004, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
The pibcushion plants I planted last year in the ground did not perform well for me. They became very floppy, developed a fungus and I had to remove them. My neighbor's are doing fine this year. I do not know what I did wrong.

Positive Magazinewriter On Apr 21, 2004, Magazinewriter from Bloomfield Hills, MI wrote:

I planted the scabiosa last spring and it performed very well; as soon as I pinched off old flowers, new ones appeared.
It bloomed steadily until hard frost.
Unfortuantely, only half the scabiosa I put in my garden came back this spring. But they performed so well I think I'll replace the ones that died.

Neutral Eaglewalker On Apr 15, 2003, Eaglewalker from Memphis, TN (Zone 7b) wrote:

I love these plants, but my soil is heavy clay. They tolerate it, but don't seem to like it much. I have gone to the trouble of digging out the clay in my scabiosa patch and replacing it with good compost in the hopes of cheering them up.

Bumblebees love the flowers.

Neutral Debsey On Mar 20, 2001, Debsey wrote:

Introduced into Britain in 1591, the centers resemble a pincushion before opening hence the name Pincushion Flower.

The Pincushion Flower blooms for a long period of time and the cut flower are excellent in floral arrangements.
Easy to grow and love well drained soil.
Propagate by root division in spring.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama
Moody, Alabama
Palmer, Alaska
Chandler, Arizona (2 reports)
Tucson, Arizona
Citrus Heights, California
Concord, California
Corning, California
Diamond Bar, California
Glen Avon, California
Merced, California
Ontario, California
Sacramento, California
Waterford, California
Meriden, Connecticut
Torrington, Connecticut
Milford, Delaware
Hailey, Idaho
Chicago, Illinois
Itasca, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Peru, Indiana
Barbourville, Kentucky
New Iberia, Louisiana
Derwood, Maryland
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Caro, Michigan
Isle, Minnesota
Kasota, Minnesota
Stockett, Montana
Munsonville, New Hampshire
Warren, New Jersey
Kirtland, New Mexico
Sand Lake, New York
Cary, North Carolina
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Waxhaw, North Carolina
Berea, Ohio
Lima, Ohio
Glenolden, Pennsylvania
Summerville, South Carolina
Arlington, Texas (2 reports)
Austin, Texas
Cleburne, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Katy, Texas
Los Fresnos, Texas
Port Lavaca, Texas
Rio Hondo, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Yantis, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah
East Barre, Vermont
Port Townsend, Washington
Casper, Wyoming

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