Knautia macedonica

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Countries: Asia, Bulgaria, Europe, Greece, Iran, Middle East, Romania, Turkey, Yugoslavia

Knautia macedonica is a superb garden plant, with a long flowering season.  This herbaceous perennial is hardy and reliable, producing an abundance of stunning deep wine-red coloured flowers.  The blooms are circular; they resemble mini rosettes and are absolutely adored by bees and butterflies!  Knautia macedonica plants hold the majority of their leaves within the lower half of the plant; their tall and slender flowering stems have a branching habit, giving the plant an open appearance that allows you to easily view the plants growing behind and around it (in a similar manner as Verbena bonariensis).

Plants are happiest growing in a sunny area; somewhere as light and bright as possible is ideal.  Knautia macedonica plants flourish in the sunshine, but they will also tolerate partial shade.  I’ve grown Knautia macedonica successfully in very sandy and silty, light free-draining soils.  These plants will thrive in any well-drained soil, in a sunny position.  Avoid wet and waterlogged soils.  Knautia macedonica will grow happily in a container of peat-free compost, in the sunshine, on the patio.

Knautia macedonica is a strong growing plant.  Established plants are pretty drought tolerant and robust.  Some years, I’ve found that my plants have picked up touches of mildew towards the end of the season, but this hasn’t affected them too badly.  Thankfully, the mildew has not persisted, nor has it become an annual event.  Within a few weeks, my plants have shrugged off the affliction, so mildew has never been particularly detrimental to the plants in my garden or at my allotment.

Knautia macedonica growing alongside Alliums.

Knautia macedonica forms plants that grow to around 80cm (2.5ft) tall.  These are not especially vigorous growers, they’re not bullies.  Over time, Knautia macedonica plants will eventually spread out to cover an area of about 80cm (2.5ft) wide; although you could easily divide your plant every two or three years, to keep it in check and encourage your plant to happily occupy a smaller area.  Knautia macedonica plants can be divided in spring and summertime.  It’s not a prolific self-seeder, but I’ve received the occasional gift of a self-seeded plant.

Established Knautia macedonica plants bloom from May to November.  I’m sure that dead-heading the plants would encourage the production of many more new flowers, but even if you don’t have time for this, Knautia macedonica will keep going.  Knautia macedonica seed heads look great, they’re lovely in a vase, but they also provide food for birds and wildlife.

I’ve found Knautia macedonica to be a tough and resilient plant.  These plants are reportedly hardy enough to survive temperatures as low as -20C (-4F) but I’ve not tested this myself, as our winter temperatures have not been anywhere near this cold.

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