Scabious Scabious, Scabiosa caucasica. Pincushion flower

Scabious flowers range from whites to soft pastel blues and pinks. They have a flattened, open shape that makes them attractive to hoverflies, bees and butterflies in search of nectar. They also make good cut flowers. Scabious are very hardy and can be sown in autumn so that they will start flowering in early summer. Thereafter, as long as you pick them and maybe cut plants back in mid and late summer, you should have scabious flowers to enjoy right through to the middle of winter. Plants grow to around knee height and are about as wide as they are high.  Scabious are perennial plants which means they flower season after season but for best results sow or plant new plants every spring.

Companions Scabious are a companion to many vegetable and fruit plants because they attract pollinating bees and beneficial insects into the garden.




  • Full sun
  • Free draining soil
  • Best sown in autumn
  • Open faced flowers
  • Attract bees and butterflies

Getting started


Sow or plant in spring countrywide. Scabious can also be sown in autumn which gives them a useful head start, helping them to establish as young plants through winter so they get off to a quick start in spring.


Scabious grow well in full sun.


Scabious grow well pretty average soil without added fertilliser or compost.



In autumn or early spring, sow seeds less than a finger-tip deep in trays or punnets filled with seed raising compost or directly into the garden or proposed container. Ideally seeds should be about a thumb’s width apart. Seeds germinate best in the dark so if you are sowing indoors or in a greenhouse put trays or punnets inside a black plastic bag in a warm spot and check them every day. As soon as shoots break the soil’s surface move them to a light, bright place away from hot, drying air – a windowsill, cold frame or greenhouse would all work. When seedlings get to about a thumb’s length tall, thin them so that plants end up about a hands’ length apart or transplant them to larger individual pots where they can grow till spring.


When your seedlings are about a finger’s length in height plant seedlings at an average spacing of two hands’ lengths apart. I usually dot them around the vegetable garden - planting them between plants and at the corner of beds.


Water young seedlings in dry periods. Once they are established and starting to grow you shouldn’t need to continue with watering unless weather is persistently dry and your soil dries out.


Keep cutting flowers to stimulate more.  In mid to late summer, if plants start to look a bit thin and lanky cut them back by about half their height. Just use a pair of garden shears – you can be pretty brutal. You should be rewarded by a whole new wave of flowers within a matter of weeks. At the end of summer allow flowers to form seed heads – these will help to feed the birds and plenty should self-seed around the garden. You can also pick the dried heads and save seed for re-sowing or simply scatter them around the garden on bare soil and wait to see what happens.