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Past Articles Library | How to Grow and Care for Bachelor Buttons

Bachelor buttons or cornflower is a beautiful plant that produces blooms that are not only blue but also purple, pink, red, and white.  The color of the foliage may surprise you.  While up close, it does look green but from a distance the foliage appears to be a grayish blue.  The reason for this is the little white hairs that cover the stem and leaves.

The plant itself looks best if used as a backdrop for other flowers or showcased in a mass planting.

Bachelor buttons are an annual plant that is easily planted directly into the garden space.  There is no need to start them indoors since the germination time is 7 to 14 days.  To begin the planting process, one needs to pick out a sunny location.  While this flower will grow in partial shade, it really cannot bloom its best unless it is in full sun. 

Once you have found this location, do not worry about the soil type.  Bachelor buttons are not picky about the soil type but they do require a well draining soil. 

After your location has been finalized, the next step is to prepare the garden space.  For this step, you will need to remove any unwanted plant material along with loosening the soil.  The next step is to smooth the soil surface over and wait.  What are you waiting for?  Well, if you have prepared the garden space prior to your local frost free date, you will need to wait for that date or a few days before.  Bachelor buttons will not survive a frost but this plant is one that you can plant the seeds a few days early without any problems. 

When the planting date arrives, simply open up the seed packet and sprinkle the seeds on the soil surface.  Top the seeds with ¼ inch of soil and mist with water.  Do not water the ground at this stage with a hard blast of water.  Doing this will bury the seed too deep and in doing so the seed will not germinate or the germination rate will be low.  Continue to monitor the soil moisture and water as needed.  In 7 to 14 days, you should begin to see signs of seed germination.

Once your seedlings have two sets of leaves, it is time to thin them out.  While thinning is actually a waste of plant material, it is very important for plant health.  It gives the remaining seedlings room to grow.  In the case of bachelor buttons, this annual plant requires one foot of space all the way around each seedling. 

Also, this is the point that you will need to back off the watering.  You need to make sure that your bachelor button seedlings and/or mature plants receive one inch of rain a week.  If this does not happen, supplement the plants. 

Another item that you will want to explore is fertilizer.  While bachelor buttons do not require anything fancy, they do need a once month feeding from an organic all purpose fertilizer.  If you do not want to go to the garden store for your fertilizer, consider adding seasoned manure or compost to the soil surface.  Another option is to make a fertilizer tea.  This is easily done by taking a plastic garbage can with a lid and a large square of burlap along with some rope.  Once you have these supplies, fill the burlap square with manure and tie off with the rope.  What you are creating is a fertilizer teabag.  Place the “teabag” in the plastic garbage can and fill with water.  Top with the lid and let it sit for at least a week. 

Once the “steeping” time has passed, you can simply dip a watering can into the fertilizer tea and water as usual.

While this plant pretty much takes care of itself, there are a few things that you will need to do to help keep the plant looking its best.  First, make sure to deadhead the flowers.  This will continue to encourage the plant material to flower until a killing frost hits.  Another thing that you may consider doing is providing support for the bachelor button, which will tumble and bend in the wind due to its 20 to 30 inch height.  There are a couple of choices when it comes to plant support.  One of the easiest is to plant the bachelor buttons in a sheltered area where they are protected from strong winds.  Another idea on the same lines is to let other plants help block the wind and support the plant.  Need some ideas?  Consider combining bachelor buttons with day lilies and/or poppies.

The last type of support is one that you create or buy.  To build a simple support for your bachelor buttons only requires two supplies, which includes bamboo stakes and twine.  The key to this approach is to set up the support before you need it.  The simplest support to create is a triangle shaped support that has twine winding around it.   As the plant grows in height, you can work it into the support.

If you would prefer to buy one, consider picking one that is in a circular shape verses a trellis type. 

Bachelor buttons are pretty much disease and pest free but there are times when a small problem will arise.  This happens when you have a lot of wet weather.  In this situation, you may find that you develop a powdery mildew and/or rust issue.  If you find that you have developed this problem, do not worry.  The season is short and before you know it the annual and its diseases with be killed by a frost.

If you really like bachelor buttons, consider collecting your own seed.  This is easily done by first letting some of the flowers remain on the plant until they are dry.  Once the flowers have dried, you may notice a swollen area on the base of the flower.  This is the seedpod. The seedpod will need to remain on the plant until it has turned brown.  Once that has happened, harvest the browned seedpods and set them out to dry for a few days.  After that time period has passed, take each seedpod between your fingers and swish.  As the pod is broken, the seeds will fall out.  The next step is to put your collection of seeds in a container for next year but do not just put them in anything.  The best way to store your seeds is to place them in something that breathes.  An example is a paper envelope.  When using this approach, just make sure you label the envelope before placing the seeds inside.  After you have collected all the seed you would like, store the seed in a cool area or in the fridge.


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When to Harvest Squash

Winter squash is ready for harvest after the rind hardens and surface color dulls.

The vines will have dried and the skins are hard and can't be scratched with a fingernail.

Make sure you get them in before the first hard frost.

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