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Centaurea (Knapweed)
at Digging Dog

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

Centaurea

Knapweed

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 $7.00
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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 $7.00
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Centaurea montana ‘Jordy’  full sun  new plant

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.

AVAILABLE MID-SPRING 2014

Centaurea montana ‘Jordy’ (P-1797)
Each $7.00
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Centaurea ruthenica  full sun

“A border flower of the highest merit,” is how British horticultural author, 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 just 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 more refined countenance.

Blooms July–September.

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

Centaurea ruthenica (P-1329)
Each $7.00
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