Centaurea nigra

Family: Asteraceae

Countries: England, Europe, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Wales

Centaurea nigra has many common names, including Hardheads, Common Knapweed, and Lesser Knapweed.  This hardy perennial can be found growing as a wildflower across Europe.  Plants don’t need any special care, making these herbaceous perennials great plants to grow in containers, or as part of low-maintenance gardens, wildflower gardens, meadows or pastures.

This is a great plant for wildlife.  In the UK, Centaurea nigra flowers from June until September.  Centaurea nigra‘s blooms are very handsome purple coloured flowers that are a rich source of pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies, flies, beetles, and other insects.  Goldfinches and other birds feed on Centaurea nigra seeds, during the autumn and winter months.  Centaurea nigra blooms are shaped a little like a thistle, but this herbaceous perennial doesn’t have any spines.  A number of species of moth lay their eggs on Centaurea nigra plants; so you might spot a caterpillar, if you’re lucky!

Plant in any moist but well-drained soil; avoid wet and water-logged soils.  Centaurea nigra is very drought tolerant plant.  These plants are happiest growing in a sheltered site, in areas that are sunny and bright; although they will also grow in partial shade.  Centaurea nigra thrives in meadows, grasslands, road verges, wasteland, along hedgerows and in woodland clearings.

Centaurea nigra plants grow from around 60cm (2ft) tall, up to 1m (3.3ft) tall, depending on the plant’s soil, situation, and growing conditions.  Sow seeds on open ground; seeds can be sown at any time of year.

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