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Centaurea (Knapweed)
at Digging Dog

Including Centaurea atropurpurea, Centaurea hypoleuca, Centaurea macrocephala, Centaurea montana, and Centaurea ruthenica



Centaurea’s heritage extends all the way back to ancient Greek mythology when Achilles’s wise teacher, Chiron the Centaur was wounded by one of Hercules’ poisoned arrows and subsequently cured by this herb’s miraculous healing powers.

Equally at home in a present day border or a more naturalized setting, our hardy undemanding selections paint a bright picture inside as well. The long lasting boisterous blooms are celebrated cut flowers, bringing high-spirited accents to both fresh and dried arrangements.

Appreciative of well draining “sweet” soil, the ever amenable Knapweed withstands some drought, but not wet, wintertime feet.

View a slideshow of plant images from this genus

Centaurea atropurpurea  full sun

Milling about the mountainous meadows of Europe’s Carpathian Range, this garden rarity spotlights large ruby red thistle-styled blooms bolstered by impressively tall sturdy stems. Even before the marvelous flowers appear, intricately detailed buds with brown-tipped green scales and curvy white spines beg a closer glance. A delicate-looking rosette of long feathery leaves—silver-gray and narrowly cut—completes the picture, while yellow blooming Centaurea ruthenica makes an ideal companion.

Blooms June – August.

Size: 4' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 5.

Centaurea atropurpurea (P-1646)
Each $7.50
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Centaurea hypoleuca ‘John Coutts’  full sun
Centaurea hypoleuca John Coutts

Cradled by silvery, paper-thin bracts, a vivacious summertime showing of deep rose-pink thistlelike blooms with pale centers promises a fall encore when deadheaded regularly.

Long green leaves—deeply divided, lobed and powdery white beneath—line stiff-backed stems, bolstering the fragrant high energy performance.

A magnet for butterflies and gardeners alike, this carefree Centaurea exhibits a compact, not-so-tall profile that can be featured atop a wall or near the border’s front, obliges dry soils and keeps us coming back well after the flowers have faded to relish its long lasting, decorative seed heads.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 2' high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 4.

Centaurea hypoleuca ‘John Coutts’ (P-1392)
Each $8.00
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Centaurea macrocephala  full sun
Great Golden Knapweed
Centaurea macrocephala

An overgrown, sun-struck relative of the Bachelor Button, this “big-headed” native of the Caucasus Mountains has so many good qualities you’ll soon be inviting it into your garden. A medium green, rowdy mass of oversized, wavy-edged lanceolate leaves attached to stout stems gives way to intriguing, rust-colored buds as big as a chicken’s egg.

Scaled by papery bracts, the bud’s rotund profile opens to offer a large, bright yellow thistle, a cheerful mop of threadlike petals bursting with sunshine and color. Back this easy-to-grow cut flower with Cotinus ‘Grace’ and surround it with Nepeta ‘Pool Bank’.

Blooms late July–mid-September.

Size: 3'–4' high x 2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Centaurea macrocephala (P-0834)
Each $7.50
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Centaurea montana ‘Jordy’  full sun

Ringed with spidery ultra-fringed tubular florets, the dark-as-midnight blooms are presented singularly, strutting sumptuous reddish purple shades on tall staunch stems. Black embroidered buds, intriguing seed heads and silver felted new growth further enhance the tidy clump of broadly lanceolate green leaves that sport minute pearly hairs. A fan of lean chalky sites, this fanciful bloomer appreciates periodic pruning and works best as a filler in a Mediterranean planting, cottage garden or a naturalized setting, where it will bring on the bees, butterflies and other admirers.

Blooms May–June.

Size: 18" high x 18"–2' wide; hardy to zone 3.

Centaurea montana ‘Jordy’ (P-1797)
Each $7.50
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Centaurea ruthenica  full sun  new plant
Centaurea ruthenica

“A border flower of the highest merit,” is how British horticulturist, William Robinson once described this awe-inspiring Centaurea, and we couldn’t agree more! Crowning long straight green stems, the fluffy thistle-style heads in unique pale citron yellows and tissue-thin buff-colored bracts will attract more than a few admirers. These ample-sized, sublime-for-cutting blooms heighten a graceful ferny pedestal of rich green pointed leaves with gray undersides, narrow silhouettes and a refined countenance. Appreciative of adequately draining soil, the ever amenable Knapweed withstands some drought, but not wet winter feet.

Blooms July–September.

Size: 3'–4' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 5.


Centaurea ruthenica (P-1329)
Each $7.50
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Latest News

Give the Gift that keeps on Growing!


Digging Dog’s Holiday Collection

Stumped by what to gift those folks that already have enough "stuff"? How about going green and giving a living present?

This year’s seasonal, gift-quality offerings feature an eclectic array of horticultural treasures that promise a little something for everyone, sure to delight those gardeners on your gift list.

Our selection of grasses, perennials and shrubs can be showcased in diverse garden settings across the country. Most are easily cultivated, many oblige a wide variety of growing conditions and all of them are in some way outstanding. We wish you a happy holiday season!

Order a $50.00 minimum of plants to receive 10% off your purchase. Plus, we’ll wrap them in silver & tie them with a bow for FREE! 15% Discount on purchases of $100 or more for any plants listed on our website or available here at the nursery! 15% Discount on Gift Certificates of $100 or more. That’s $100 worth of plants for only $85! (Purchase one for yourself... cash it in on your Spring 2016 order!) For discounts, place code “Holiday 2015” in the Comment Box on the online order form; for gift-wrap, place code “Gift-wrap” in the Comment Box. Sale dates are November 20 thru December 20, with the last ship date being December 21st, 2015. If you wish to receive your order by Christmas: All orders must be received no later than Sunday, December 20 to be delivered by December 24!

Gift Certificates purchased at a discount are not redeemable towards discounted plants. Gift Certificates are non-refundable. In the event that a problem occurs with a discounted plant, please contact us immediately. If applicable, a credit memo or refund check will be issued.

Click here to view Digging Dog's Holiday 2015 Collection

Current Staff’s Favorite Plant

staff favorite plant

Our favorite plant this week: We love Cercidiphyllum japonicum for it's cozy array of fall colors, and it's divinely scented leaves. Perhaps Japan’s largest shade tree, normally multi- trunked Katsura manifests a gracious symmetry; trained to a single trunk it provides a narrower, almost columnar shape. Its dappled shade is a cordial host for Corylopsis. Grows moderately to rapidly.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum

More news, events, and favorite plants

Customer Comment:

“I held my breath and opened the box (after a long delay in opening the delivered plants, due to catastrophic flooding), dug down through the damp paper shreds and found all the plants alive!!!! I'm so relieved. I had to write and thank you for the hardiness of the plants, and for packing them so carefully.... Thank you, Digging Dog. I'll be back.”

~Jane in New Hampshire

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